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Dining Out with Sustainability In Mind

Jensen Ott  Follow

At my first Prosek All-Hands call, I introduced myself as someone who loves restaurants, and love might be an understatement. Nothing makes me happier than exploring the never-ending list of restaurants around the city and trying new dishes. My friends and family come to me for recommendations, and I always plan an itinerary around meals when friends come to visit.

While my love for restaurants is never-ending, I am also conscious of how wasteful restaurants can be when cooking at such a large scale. Food waste, plastic use and sustainable food sources are all concerns surrounding dining out and environmental sustainability. Although the pandemic has shifted our dining habits, there are several sustainable practices you can adopt now to ensure your meal doesn’t come at great cost to your conscience.

  • Say no to the plastic utensils. During the pandemic, I have used delivery apps more than I would like to admit. While the bags and containers are mostly unavoidable, you do have the option to opt out of plastic utensils when ordering take out. Making this small change can have a big impact on reducing single-use plastic.
  • Select Amazon Day delivery. Living in New York City, the convenience and cost of ordering pantry staples or household products on Amazon can make it difficult to always shop local. Amazon has a service that lets Prime customers get all of their packages delivered on one day a week, reducing the number of boxes used and environmental effects of delivery miles driven.
  • Choose sustainable restaurants the next time you (safely) dine out. Choose restaurants who have committed to sustainability the next time you dine out (or even if you order in!). To practice better sustainability, restaurants can elect to become Certified USDA Organic, participate in Zero FoodPrint or even curate seasonable menus. Here are three sustainable restaurants in New York City that you should check out:
  1. ABC Kitchen – Flatiron: “The cuisine at Chef Jean-Georges’ ABC Kitchen reflects a passionate commitment to the freshest organic and local ingredients possible. The restaurant’s changing menu focuses on local, sustainable, seasonal produce that does not use pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, insecticides, or GMOs. Meat, fish, and dairy are locally sourced where possible, from humanely treated, pasture-fed animals free of antibiotics and hormones. A rooftop garden provides herbs and microgreens. Teas, coffees, spices, wines, juices, and elixirs are organically cultivated on fair-trade cooperatives. The dining room includes found, salvaged, reclaimed, and recycled building materials.”
  2. Lighthouse – Williamsburg: “Lighthouse makes you feel at home. It embodies community, honesty, and warmth. Our menu is seasonal, the food is ingredient driven, clean, fresh and delicious. Produce is locally sourced from farmers and growers we love. We recycle, compost, and collaborate with other green-minded organizations to grow, improve, and educate ourselves, our staff, and our guests.”
  3. Candle Café and Candle 79 – Upper West Side and Upper East Side: “Our passion is compassion and sustainability. We share that ethos with our guests through our vegan, and seasonal cuisine, and our "green" philosophy. We strive each day to minimize our carbon footprint, thus making our planet and our community a cleaner, healthier environment in which to not just live, but to live in good health and thrive.”

Environmental sustainability is more important than ever. While businesses begin to re-open and we prepare to safely dine with friends and clients again, my hope is that we continue to practice and share our environmentally friendly habits. I know I cannot wait to enjoy my morning coffee at the café on my block, meet colleagues for lunch and hang out at my favorite French bistro again. Here’s to a safe and sustainable return to a beloved hobby, dining out!

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