There are many reasons to be up in arms over food waste in America. It’s not just an environmental issue—it’s a moral and humanitarian one as well. In addition to the excess methane that trashed food produces in landfills, consider global hunger and childhood obesity. A wave of guilt should come over anyone that wastes an eatable portion of any meal. The problem is especially applicable to the country’s popular restaurant chains and All-You-Can-Eat Buffets.

A recent consumer survey conducted by Triple Pundit/Environmental News Network gives some insight into how diners feel about the issue. Many customers said that a greener restaurant option would change the way they chose where to eat. Assuming they were being honest, and not just succumbing to the social pressure of being asked questions with environmental implications, here are a few ways restaurants could improve their waste management:

• Adjust the portion sizes
• Offer a range of portion sizes for a variety of diners
• Cut out the AYCE programs
• Allow for more than one diner to share meals
• Offer to pack up leftovers
• Allow diners to bring their own doggie bag containers

According to Jacquelyn Ottman’s article on Environmental News Network, “Another often overlooked opportunity is to find superior doggie "to-go" bag designs that can accommodate the dual challenges of serving on-the-go lifestyles (not everyone heads straight home after dining), and such environmental and health concerns such as plastic migration and compostability.”

In other words, restaurants should nix the Styrofoam to-go containers immediately. But, this train of thought is hardly limited to dining out. Family cooking could also stand to cut down on food waste. So, crack down on portion control at home, and package the leftovers for lunch at work the following day.


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