As restrictions have eased on dining out with family, we have found ourselves in a new world when entering patios or dining rooms at local restaurants. Tables have become more spread out, partitions are present at tables, and now there has become a noticeable change in disposable cutlery and menus at restaurants.
Typically, the cutlery at restaurants is #5 plastic. Menus have become single use. In Miami County, only #1 and #2 plastic bottles and jugs are marketable for recycling. With most restaurants having recycling programs limited to cardboard and or food waste, it is important to use what you need.
Understandably, restaurants are in challenging times. Many eateries were initially limited to take out only. When dishes are not being used to serve meals, the amount of waste at home increases. Many take out containers are Styrofoam or #5 plastic. With these plastics not able to be recycled, this pushes reuse. My family has kept many of these plastic containers for organization or to use for food storage at home. These containers have proved valuable in sharing baked goods or excess meals with friends and neighbors.
It is important to note that not every place to eat uses every one of these practices. Most are able to maintain the traditional dining room etiquette with plates and silverware. Moving forward, it is important to be recycling aware. Use what you need, take what you will use. Repurpose what materials you can. If you are able to take the paper menus home and recycle them, please do. If you are given more napkins than you will use, take them with you for future use. These are small steps that can be taken as a community that adds up to big results. As we each continue to support our local businesses, let’s take a community approach to continue to reduce waste!