We all like to visit restaurants for a good dining experience. We might be sitting at a restaurant for a meal or visit a take-away joint for food-to-go. In each of these case, particularly in the latter we have containers and utensils used that are essentially made of plastic due to their lower cost. But as a person transforming into a plastic-free life, options might seem to get limited as far a seating out is concerned. Don't worry, there are options that you can exercise, some might go against the grain of that particular outlet, but no one can deny you service if you insist on a being served a particular way. Here are some examples of living plastic-free at the restaurant.
1. Carry your own containers for take-out food and leftovers
Often we are not able to finish all the food that we ordered and we request a doggy bag be given to us with all the leftover food. While you are requesting the waiter to pack the leftover food, hand him or her the containers in which to pack them. Same with take-out food. It could be from a regular restaurant or even from the drive-through outlets of fast food joints like McDonalds, KFC, etc.
2. Carry reusable utensils and glass drinking straws
Most restaurants will serve in non plastic crockery and cutlery. It is the street food and fast food joints or coffee shops that are notorious for serving in plastic. It is a good idea to keep a set of crockery and cutlery in your hand bag, or at least in your car. Any time you are hungry and are passing by a fast food joint, order the food and ask them to serve it in the utensils you provide. Make sure to tell them, "No straws please."
3. Do not accept single serve ketchup sachets
If you sitting at a fast food joint, do not accept the single serve ketchup or mustard sachets ... ask for the large bottle from which you can take as much ketchup or mustard as you want. Ask for loose sugar or sugar cubes instead of tearing up those sugar sachets.
4. When ordering pizza, say no to the little plastic “table”
Do we even know why that little table is placed in the middle of a pizza. The first thing we do when we open the pizza box is to remove that table and throw it in the bin. When ordering pizza, tell them NOT to include the table with the order. While you are at it, tell them not to add mustard and ketchup sachets.
5. Choose wine with natural cork stoppers
Many wine bottles are "corked" not with natural cork but with plastic cork. Be careful when you order wine. Make sure it has a natural cork stopper and not a plastic one.
6. Ask for wooden chopsticks
Eating with chopsticks is something many people enjoy. Ask for wooden chopsticks, or carry your own.
7. Drinking water
This should not even be a question when eating at a restaurant. But, often is. As we are seated, the waiter comes and asks whether we want bottled water or regular water. By bottled water s/he means bottle in a plastic bottle that is filled with water filtered through the reverse osmosis process. And regular water is water that is filtered by a large reverse osmosis machine sitting somewhere in a back room. IT IS THE VERY SAME BOTTLE. We have to pay for bottled water, while "regular" water comes for free. And bottled water comes in a toxic plastic bottle. Just ask for regular water, you will not fall sick with waterborne diseases.
8. Waxed, kraft, butter paper wraps
Particularly for take-away food, often it is wrapped up in plastic shrink-wrap. Request the restaurant to wrap it not in plastic but in some kind of paper.
9. Educate other customers
You might be getting strange looks from people sitting at a table next to you because of your demands, that to them seem crazy. "It is just one straw, why is s/he making such a big deal about it?" you almost hear them say. You might wish to politely introduce yourself, make some small talk and slide in a conversation about you trying to live plastic-free ... and how. Maybe they will shrug and cut short the conversation, or they might end up feeling just a little bit guilty about all the plastic on their table. Educate them nicely. Maybe even give them a link to this website.