Once you develop a routine, sustainable living can be a straightforward process. By making better decisions in your everyday life, you can make a significant impact on the world around you. Other times, however, sustainable living can be a bit more challenging — like during holidays and special events. This Valentine’s Day, make an effort to spread a little extra love to the environment by making these sustainable dining choices.
Research Local Options
Before you head out on the town for your Valentine’s Day dinner date, research the local restaurants in your area. Find out which ones use sustainable business practices, including:
- Offering plenty of vegetarian and vegan entrées
- Using fresh, local, in-season produce
- Reducing food waste and unnecessary packaging
- Providing transparency regarding meal ingredients and preparation
By researching your options ahead of time, you set yourself up for a successful, worry-free experience when you get to the restaurant.
Choose Food Wisely
Just because a restaurant uses sustainable business practices and farm-to-table produce doesn’t mean every dish on the menu is a sustainable choice. This Valentine’s Day, choose your food wisely with these tips:
- Choose fairtrade ingredients: Ingredients labeled as fairtrade means they were produced in an environmentally friendly way that empowers workers and follows sustainable business habits. Two of the most recognizable fairtrade ingredients are coffee beans and chocolate, both of which are very popular on Valentine’s Day menus.
- In-season produce: Producing and shipping out-of-season foods to restaurants and grocery stores take a high toll on the environment. Limit this strain by opting for in-season dishes. In most parts of the country, in-season produce in February includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, winter squash, sweet potatoes, parsnips, spinach and kale. If you afraid of missing out on the nutritional benefits of your favorite out-of-season produce, consider supplementing your diet with nutraceuticals.
- Meatless options: If you’re on the fence about adopting a vegetarian or vegan diet, use Valentine’s Day as a time to experiment with sustainable foods. Research shows that the farming and production of livestock can harm the environment, due to factors like unnecessary emission of greenhouse gasses and excessive pesticide usage. By choosing a meatless entrée, you lessen your environmental impact.
Take Leftovers Home
In 2017, more food made it to landfills than any other waste product. Excess food waste puts a strain on the environment and does little to combat the number of U.S. families experiencing food insecurity. As you dine out this Valentine’s Day, make sure no food goes unused.
Take any leftovers home with you to warm up the next day or to add to a compost pile. To avoid unnecessary packaging, bring your own reusable to-go container and tote bag to the restaurant. Say “no” to extras like to-go cutlery and napkins.
Encourage Others to Join You
Valentine’s day is not just for intimate couples in cozy candlelit restaurants. Gather your favorite coupled — or single — friends and make Valentine’s Day a group outing to your favorite sustainable restaurant.
While 77% of people want to learn how to live a more sustainable lifestyle, most are unsure how or are afraid to make the first step. Lead by example by encouraging your friends to follow your sustainable practices. Let them see for themselves that sustainable dining can still be a fun experience. No matter whether they continue to choose these practices, you will have had an enjoyable night with friends and kept them from one night of less-than sustainable dining.
Whichever way you choose to promote sustainability this Valentine’s Day, remember every small action makes a difference. Enjoy your evening, knowing that you are playing your part in caring for the world around you.
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