There’s been a lot of discussion recently about whether restaurants, cafés and other places that serve food should be doing more to reduce their carbon footprint.
The plastic waste crisis is very much real, and restaurants are starting to feel the pressure to switch to eco-friendly packaging. Single-use plastics such as disposable straws, grocery bags, take-out cups or containers, and water bottles are already banned in many cites and countries. And there are many more set to follow this ban in the next few years.
According to the National Geographic, a whopping 91% of plastic isn’t recycled. Most of it ends up polluting our oceans instead.
While I agree 100% that drastic measures need to be made in order to protect our planet, I don’t agree 100% with completely banning single-use plastics .
Why? Because people living with disabilities need them. And, unfortunately, the eco-friendly alternates don’t always work.
Nevertheless, there is a lot that both businesses and individuals can do to better protect our environment.
One easy way to do so is to support eco-friendly restaurants. Here’s why.
They Care About More Than Just Money
We all want to do our bit for the environment, but there’s only so much consumers can do. One of the main reasons to support an eco-friendly café or restaurant is because being eco-friendly shows they care about more than just making a profit.
Businesses need to be responsible for the impact they’re having on the environment. So, when an establishment shows they are taking steps to sustain the environment and protect it, it shows the company is responsible and, in my opinion, it makes them more trustworthy too.
Can you really trust a business that doesn’t care about its impact on the environment?
“Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.” – Anna Lappe
Enhancing Your Own Eco-Friendliness
As a consumer, it’s your responsibility to make conscious choices. Like the above quote states – every dollar you spend is like casting a vote. When you choose to support eco-friendly restaurants, you are “voting” for them to continue to use more eco-friendly products.
In other words, you are also enhancing your own eco-friendliness by choosing a company that gives back to the environment and helps to protect it. You are effectively helping to do more for the environment than you would if you went to a non-eco-friendly establishment.
With your support, these businesses will grow and therefore eco-friendly products will become more available.
Building a Better Future
When restaurants focus on eco-friendly operations, it’s helping to build a better future. By supporting them, you are helping to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills and harms our environment, amongst other things.
There’s no denying we’re harming this planet. Unless we act now, our future generations are going to be under threat. Most consumers realize this, which is why more people than ever before are choosing to support greener businesses.
Supporting Your Local Economy
A lot of businesses, especially those related to food, are using more and more local products and produce these days.
So when you support eco-friendly restaurants that use local goods, you are also supporting your local economy. You are helping to keep jobs (or maybe even create new ones) within your community.
Buying locally helps to reduce the transportation needed to ship food, which helps to cut down on the amount of pollution these ships or trucks emit.
It also helps to reduce waste, as more of the food’s shelf-life is spent in the restaurant itself, and not in the back of a truck or in a shipping container.
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Eating Better Food
If the restaurant does use local goods, the food you receive will be a lot fresher. And probably a lot better tasting. Especially if the produce is also in season.
Locally grown food is typically a lot healthier for you, too.
Certain fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, broccoli, and kale lose nutrients when being shipped over long distances. They are also more susceptible to spoilage.
Eating Safer Food
Local produce is also often safer, as there are less chemicals used at all stages of growth and distribution.
While local farms may not be certified organic, in many cases the produce is grown organically. There are less pesticides and chemicals used in smaller farms than there are in the larger, industrial farms.
Out of season imported fruits and vegetables are usually picked before they are ripe. They are later artificially ripened with ripening agents, such as ethylene glycol (which contains ethylene gas and hydrogen peroxide) or calcium carbide (which may contain traces of arsenic and phosphorus).
That doesn’t sound very appealing, does it?
Because local produce doesn’t spend days (or in some cases weeks) in transit, less preservatives are needed when shipping, and ripening agents typically aren’t needed at all.
It may seem like small changes like choosing to support eco-friendly restaurants doesn’t matter when there is an environmental crisis going on. But they do.
If everyone plays their part, even in small ways, we can cut down on the waste and pollution and hopefully save the planet before it’s too late.
Do you support eco-friendly restaurants and cafes? What other little things do you do to protect our environment? Share your thoughts below!
Amanda Kay, an Employment Specialist and founder of My Life, I Guess, strives to keep the "person" in personal finance by writing about money, mistakes, and making a living. She focuses on what it’s like being in debt, living paycheck to paycheck, and surviving unemployment while also offering advice and support for others in similar situations - including a FREE library of career & job search resources.