As a local who appreciates many of Santa Barbara’s restaurants, I am often disturbed by the excessive harm caused when eating out. It’s gotten so bad that going out to dinner doesn’t sound nearly as appealing as it used to. One can’t help but feel genuine wonder, for example, to think that the Styrofoam and plastic products used to store our food for often no more than a few hours will take thousands of years to break down (and that we’ve plundered the body of our planet to make these things in the first place). Hoping to inspire a little sanity in the way we dine, I offer a few humble suggestions to our local restaurants:
1. Encourage the reduction of wasteful packaging by offering a 5% discount on a patron’s bill when she brings her own take-away containers.
2. Avoid all single-use items (i.e., plastic containers and utensils and Styrofoam to-go boxes).
3. Buy local produce and meat. (I notice many restaurants buy produce from the farmers’ markets, which is good, but there’s a glaring lack of humanely raised meat and sustainable fish on our menus, meat and fish that’s very available locally.)
4. Recycle and contact the city about joining the Foodscraps Collection Program.
5. Get certified as a “green” business.
6. And support the Isla Vista Co-Op, Plow to Porch, and other local businesses that are already doing the good (and urgent) work.