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Being Green while Dining Out

When you eat at a restaurant, think about sustainability and reducing waste. Many people who are environmentally conscious at home leave their green living habits behind when they go out to eat — when they use polystyrene take-away containers, straws, and paper napkins that many restaurants offer.

Don't take your leftovers from a restaurant away in a polystyrene container: this is a virtually unrecyclable plastic vessel that archaeologists will puzzle over in future millennia when they dig it up intact. Instead, bring home your leftovers in recyclable aluminum foil or the kind of to-go carton you'll see in most Chinese restaurants. You can buy these to-go cartons in bulk at many box stores, supermarkets, and restaurant supply stores. Get them, then if you think you'll have leftovers, take your own container to the restaurant. If enough people reject polystyrene, more restaurants will switch over to the more sustainable option. Also, some restaurants that typically use plastic will wrap your dinner remains in foil if you ask.

You should also skip the straws in drinks, and ask for a ceramic mug instead of a paper cup. When you order your morning cup of coffee, bring your own travel mug.

Whether at home or at a restaurant, cloth napkins are the environmentally friendly choice. You should also avoid paper plates and toss-away cups, even for your children’s or grandchildren's birthday parties.

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