How to Support Local Restaurants and the Environment

When ordering take out and delivery meals it is important to keep the environment in mind. Many restaurants and delivery services supply single-use utensils, napkins, and containers – all of which negatively impact our land and oceans. Here are some simple ways to reduce your single-use footprint when you eat take-out. Beginning January 1, 2021, The City and County of Honolulu Departement of Environmental Services will begin enforcing the new Disposable Food Ware Ordinance on Oahu. To learn more, visit their site here: Disposable Food Ware Ordinance.

Ask for your food without utensils or straws
One of the easiest and most obvious ways to decrease single-use plastics is to refuse them. Many takeout services give customers the options to decline napkins, utensils and plastic straws. If you are dining at home, your reusable silverware can easily be used, as well as a reusable straw.

Plan for toppings
Many kitchens are cluttered with individual topping packets, such as cheese, ketchup, chili flakes, etc. but what most people do not think about is the amount of waste these produce. Instead, decline individual packets when ordering take-out and buy those same toppings in bulk. Not only does this save the environment but will also save you money. Many restaurants charge an extra fee for condiments such as salad dressing, sour cream, and ketchup, but using what you have at home can make a noticeable difference on your final bill.

Reuse your To-Go Containers
When ordering take-out, it’s possible that you will end up with Polystyrene foam containers or plastic packaging when receiving to-go items. Some ways to prevent further environmental impact are:

  • Research your restaurants beforehand and support businesses that commit to sustainable products.
  • Rinse and reuse plastic containers for other to-go opportunities. Plastic shell containers are perfect for packing future lunches for camping or beach trips.
  • Plastic or cardboard containers can be recycled if they are properly cleaned and sanitized of all food remnants.

Compost Your Leftovers
Limiting food waste is just as important as limiting container waste. Starting a compost pile is a simple way to reuse uneaten food. Compost can be used in gardens to help fertilize soil. There are many waste items from your takeout meals that can go into compost piles. Non-greasy vegetables, noodles, fruit peelings, and even brown paper bags or napkins can be composted.

Business Owners – a few simple ways restaurants can help are:

Refrain from Surplus
Restaurants can make a positive impact by limiting the number of napkins, utensils and bags they use in each order. Asking your customers if they will actually be needing utensils is another way to reduce unnecessary single-use plastic waste.

Consider sending food home with the staff
If you have extra food at the end of the day, it doesn’t hurt to share some with your hard-working employees. This is a great way to prevent food waste, while also supporting your workers.

Consider donating food
Instead of throwing away any excess food at the end of the day, find an organization to support by donating to those in need. Even if you are unable to make a sale, that does not mean you cannot make a positive impact for a shelter or food rescue service.