More tips for dining out and the 5 R’s

dining zero waste tip ottawa

I posted this a while ago on my Instagram about how I try not to eat out a lot but that I feel like I’m becoming way better at dining out zero waste. A previous post covered it but here’s an update.

5 more tips I have are:

1) Bring your own take away container for leftovers and if you didn’t bring it think about whether or not you can use a napkin to package it up or see if the place offers a cardboard take away option.

2) Bring the food scraps and napkins you have to use, home to compost or put in your green bin. If they give you a stack of napkins, chances are they will throw this out (being a server in a past life, I know) so you may as well take home the stack and find another place to use them. For me I use them when my son gets the incredible urge to take a shit and we are far from a bathroom. 

3) Always assume they will put straws in your drinks and say ‘no straws’ – especially if you have a child – ALWAYS assume they will give you straws and plastic cups. 

4) Always assume that if it’s not an “artisan” restaurant or higher end eatery/cafe, that almost everything will involve plastic cups for sauces, dressings, coleslaws etc. Unfortunately, that has been the research up until this point so do a check in when you get to the restaurant. Look at other people’s dishes or ask the server how things come prepared for the dish you want to order. 

5) If you’re a coffee drinker and you didn’t bring your own creamers and you really, really want a coffee, order a small kids milk to go with it. If the sugar isn’t in a dispenser, you could use the sugar packets that are paper – but just remember to take that paper home with you to compost or turn into your own paper like I do. HERE.

Someone asked me the other day do I buy things that I can recycle, even if it’s in plastic because I can still recycle it?

I told them the process of recycling produces a lot of waste and resources so if I must, I’ll buy things in glass. It is rare that I will even buy anything in a can. It is rare that I ever have to go out to the recycle bin other than for paper items which is maybe once every 2-3 weeks. As a rule to myself, I avoid plastic or anything with any type of plastic packaging. Of course there are still things in my home that will be replaced once they fizzle out, like my toilet brush, but I am generally trying to be plastic free everything. 

I’ve just been getting a little tired of having people tell me that I CAN buy things because it’s recyclable. They say it to me as if I don’t realize it and that I’m limiting myself to options.

“Well, you know you can recycle that right?”

Well 2 truths for me are:

1) I WANT to limit myself. It makes my life actually a lot easier.

2) I don’t WANT to rely on recycling and as the general rule of zero waste goes, the first action is to:

REFUSE: Avoid taking things simply because they are free. Refuse the things you don’t want to keep. Just say no.

This is the very first action you can take in order to be zero waste or more earth friendly and conscious.

THEN after it’s:

REDUCE: Eliminate the amount of things you have by not buying a lot of things and choosing only to buy the things you need and finding what is sustainable and long-lasting rather than disposable.

REUSE/REPURPOSE: Think, before you throw something away can it be reused again or can it have another purpose? Can you find a use for it over and over and over again?

RECYCLE: Try to find a place that can recycle items rather than sending them to the landfill. As mentioned before yes, some plastics can be recycled but there isn’t a high percentage that actually does. Which is why recycling is 4th on the list. I personally don’t like justifying what I purchase JUST because it can be recycled. There are places that allow you to bring in metal scraps and wires etc and they pay you (click HERE) and there are places like Staples business depot that take back batteries and old markers and pens that don’t work.

ROT: Things that can go back into the earth, let it. Use the green bins the city gives you. We’re lucky to be able to have this option.

Here is a great resource on what the city of Ottawa has to offer in terms of what goes in your blue box, black box and where things can go to be recycled if it isn’t a traditional item (like batteries, paints etc.)
Click HERE.

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4 thoughts on “More tips for dining out and the 5 R’s

    1. Thank you for this inspiration Lesley. The support really helps. Good luck with you on your path too and be kind to yourself along the way.

  1. Good point about assuming re: straws, plastic lids, cups, etc. I don’t eat out a lot anymore, but once in a while, and I still must improve. Good tips here!

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