Skip to content

Zero-Waste Tips When Dining Out

Hero-Image-2-e1673472524371 (1)

Going out for a meal is an experience we all enjoy. In this blog, we have compiled 6 easy tips to ditch waste and reduce our environmental impact when dining out. Start by applying just one of the tips below during your next food journey and, over time, the more you repeat the tip the more it will become a habit. You got this and Bon Appetit! 

1. Bring your reusable food containers from home for your leftovers.

Did you know that you are allowed to bring your home containers to restaurants? 
The CA Retail Food Code, section 114121 (b) states that consumers are allowed to take a personal container as long as an employee fills it and there is no cross-contamination with the utensil that is being used to serve the food. The law states that “consumer-owned containers returned to the food facility for refilling may be refilled and returned to the same consumer if the container is refilled by an employee of the food facility or the owner of the container if the dispensing system includes a contamination-free transfer process that cannot be bypassed by the container owner. © Consumer-owned containers that are not food-specific may be filled at a water vending machine or system.”

We recommend storing containers in your car so you can be ready next time you need to pack up some leftovers. Check out these affordable 3 piece stainless steel tupperware!
Bonus Tip: Repurpose jam or yogurt containers and bring them along to hold sauces like salsa and ketchup!

2. Ask for no straws or bring your own reusable straw from home.

Straws are a single-use plastic with little to no utility. Based on the Association of Zoos & Aquariums “Five hundred million straws are used each day by people in the United States alone.” Most plastic straws are not biodegradable and end up in our waterways which ultimately pollute animals, plants, people, and the environment.

If you or any of your family members have to use a straw for medical reasons, or if you just prefer to use one in your daily use, we recommend buying a reusable or biodegradable straw. Check out these silicon and stainless-steel foldable straws by FinalStraw that are easy to clean and keep around! 

3. Following our previous tip, we encourage you to bring your own set of silverware or chopsticks instead of single-use plastic utensils to avoid creating unnecessary waste!

Set the example with reusable utensils to avoid creating waste. Check out this all-in-one bamboo silverware set from Brut Essentials!

4. Don’t ask for a water cup unless you really need it!

Zero-waste tries to eliminate single-use items. Restaurants are now only giving out water cups on request to help minimize water and plastic cup waste. Ideally, bringing a reusable water bottle would be a great strategy to contribute to the change. You are bound to drink some water after a big meal. Pack your water bottle and bring it to your next meal out to avoid using single-use water bottles or cups. Every habit makes a difference. 

5. Order only as much as you will eat

According to a report by the National Restaurant Association, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, and the Food Marketing Institute, half a pound of food waste is generated on average for each meal ordered in restaurants, either from what’s leftover on the plate or when cooking in the kitchen. If we consciously order meals based on our capacity to consume, we can avoid unnecessary waste to be created from our meals.

6. Give the restaurant feedback!

Most restaurant managers would love to hear your positive comments or feedback on their recycling and composting practices! With the new Organics Law SB1838 becoming active in the state of California, citizens can play a leading role in educating more public restaurants about the changes needed to be implemented to take better care of our environment and properly recycle organic waste. 

If you want to learn more about eco-friendly restaurants, guidelines, and utensils check-out these resources below:

  • Green Restaurant Association – Earn a Green Employee Accreditation

Do you work in the restaurant industry? Help our planet today by educating yourself on restaurant sustainability facts in six environmental categories. After you go through the Green Restaurant Association Education Section, you can take a test to become a Green Restaurant Accredited Employee (GRAE 

  • Surfrider Foundation – Ocean Friendly Restaurants

We’re building an inclusive community of eco-conscious restaurants, activists, and patrons that support a healthy lifestyle for ourselves and our planet to find more joy and peace in our everyday lives.