It is extremely possible and affordable to eat out for every single meal in Beijing, where food isn’t just about nutrition, it’s a way of life. And it was in a local café that I met up with Carrie Yu (Zero Waste Beijing and the Bulk House) who has offered to mentor our family through our transition to producing less waste.
As we sat down and Carrie’s drool worthy iced coffee topped with ice-cream turned up, she pulled out her stainless steel straw, and then gave me some very simple and easily achievable action steps on how families can dine out while reducing consumption of single-use items.
- Go strawless! Stainless steel straws in China are totally affordable, the Bulk House sells them for RMB 10, and last a lifetime. Say no to plastic straws. 500 million of these little suckers are used in the U.S. every day (that’s enough to go 2.5 times around the planet EVERY DAY) so keep your own in your bag and whip it out whenever you have a smoothie or mojito craving. When you place your order, remember to say: “wo buyao suliao xiguan”(I don’t want a plastic straw), “wo you xiguan” (I have a straw). My kids love their new straws – they are indestructible, noisy, and make great swords.
- If you go to Starbucks, ask to have your coffee served in a mug – yes that’s right, Starbucks actually have ceramic mugs, but in my experience you have to ask for it. Take a reusable cup for your to-go coffee. Don’t contribute to the 4 billion paper cups Starbucks use every year. “Wo buyao suliao beizi” (I don’t want a plastic cup), “Qing gei wo putong de beizi” (Please give me a normal cup).
- Stop using sugar. It’s better for your health and there will be one less paper sachet and plastic stirrer in the garbage heap.
- Choose restaurants that don’t use single use plastic cutlery, or take your own. “Wo buyao canju” (I don’t want cutlery) or “wo zhiji you canju” (I have my own cutlery).
- If you know you are eating out and usually end up bringing food home, take your own reusable container.
All the items you need for your dining kit can be found at The Bulkhouse, Taobao, or in your own kitchen. Let’s embrace these easily achievable steps and create a BYO culture instead of a throw-away one.