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6 Ways to Reduce Your Use of Single-Use Plastics When Dining Out

Consumers often buy and use plastic because it’s convenient and affordable. Sometimes you may not even notice how much plastic you use each day. However, before you even head out the door, you use at least fifteen plastic products such as toothbrushes, shampoo bottles or plastic toilet seats.

Fortunately, there are several ways to cut back on plastic use in your daily life. Here are six ways to reduce your use of single-use plastics when dining out. 

Why Single-Use Platic is Harmful

Single-use plastics in restaurants are harmful simply because they are used once. However, after their initial use, they can remain on the earth forever and harm ecosystems. Plastics may wash out to sea from beaches and streets or fly away from landfills. The materials break down into tiny pieces, called microplastics, which can be more toxic, especially for wildlife. 

Large plastic items such as straws, bags and silverware can harm animals and the environment. If enough people stop using plastics, we can have a significant enough impact that restaurants replace them or stop using them together. 

Businesses are implementing eco-friendly ways to reduce costs and plastic. For example, keeping waste under control in dental practices is essential. They reduce or eliminate waste by decreasing single-use plastic items, recycling old dental items and switching to paperless.

How Can We Reduce Single-Use Plastic in the Food Industry?

When you go out to eat or grab something to go, there are sure to be many plastic items that come along with it. Your carry-out bag may be plastic with plastic straws, silverware and cups. Minor adjustments can have an impact on the environment. Here are six things you can do to reduce single-use plastic. 

1. Don’t Take Their Plastic Bag

If you go out and have leftovers or grab carry-out, they may put your food in a plastic bag to make things easier. Instead, ask if they have paper bags you can use. You can also bring your own bag to use if you go out or know you’re picking up food that typically comes in a plastic bag. Reusable grocery bags can be used for grabbing carry-out and transporting your food home safely. 

2. Leave Plastic Utensils 

Restaurants will typically give you plastic utensils for carry-out. If you pick up your food and notice they’re in your bag, you can return them before leaving with your food and use your own silverware from home. 

If you come home with plastic silverware without knowing, you don’t have to dispose of it. If you hand wash them, you can keep reusing the utensils — they’re perfect for packing with lunches. 

3. Bring Your Own Take-Out Containers

Restaurants usually have large portions that are difficult to finish in one sitting. If you notice you bring food home every time you go out, start to carry your own take-out containers with you. If you order take-out, ask if you can bring in your own containers for them to fill when you pickup the food. 

Similar to utensils, you can always reuse plastic containers if you end up with a few. The quality is sturdy enough to be washed and reused many times. Sometimes there are paper options for take-out containers too.

4. Invest in Reusable Straws

When heading through the drive-thru or grabbing our morning coffee, plastic straws will often be in the bag or handed to you. In these moments, request no straws and carry reusable ones with you. They are small enough to fit into your glove compartment or purse, so you won’t need to use the plastic ones at a restaurant.

If you’re worried about keeping reusable straws clean, you can purchase specialized cleaning instruments. Small, pipe cleaner-like brushes are inexpensive and work the best. Some reusable straws are even dishwasher-safe. 

5. Bring Reusable Cups

You can bring reusable cups if you can’t go the day without heading to your local coffee shop. Most coffee cups that are given to you can’t be recycled. Your reusable cup doesn’t have to be fancy. It can be a mansion jar from home or anything that can handle the heat with a lid if you are traveling with it. 

6. Speak Up

When you go out, be proud of your environmental friendliness. Let the servers or take-out workers know that you are working to be more sustainable and would prefer no plastic utensils or supplies with your experience. The people working at the restaurant will respect your request and you might even get them thinking about their habits.

The Bottom Line

Plastic has become so common in everyone’s daily lives you might not even realize how much is around you. Do your part to make a change when going to eat by following these ways to reduce single-use plastic. 

Writer Bio

6 Ways to Reduce Your Use of Single-Use Plastics When Dining Out | Cook & Hook

Beth is the Managing Editor and content manager at Body+Mind. She shares knowledge on a variety of topics related to nutrition, healthy living, and anything food-related. In her spare time, Beth enjoys trying out new fitness trends and recipes.

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