You don't have to hug a farmer to eat green. Here are five easy ways to help the planet while patronizing restaurants, bars and coffee shops:
1. BYO reusable cup. What's the price of drinking shade-grown coffee from a cup that used to be a shade-giving tree? Avoid negative caffeine karma (and save 10 cents on all coffee drinks at places like Forza, Tully's and Starbucks) by brining your own reusble coffee cup. As one barista noted, "It's not much, but it adds up."
2. BYO growler. Why buy microbrews at the store when you can fill up reusable half-gallon glass growler jugs at pubs, microbreweries and beer bars? Growlers cost between $5-$10; refill prices are about $5-$10 depending on the beer and the venue (Parkway Tavern and The Red Hot in Tacoma are but two beer bars that fill growlers; Tacoma's Harmon, Olympia's Fish and The Ram (throughout the South Sound) are but a few pubs where you can get your growlers filled.
3. BYO utensils. What color are your chopsticks? Black? White? Red? Plastic chopsticks may not be entirely green, but those wooden ones can't be reused. Consider buying your own chopsticks. Many Japanese restaurants sell reusable chopsticks. They come in individual boxes, with your name on the box. The restaurants wash, sanitize and store customers' chopsticks.
4. BYO doggie bag. How many leftovers in take-out containers (made of either foam or 100 percent recyclable paper material) are in your fridge? Why not take home leftovers in your own reusable containers? "There's nothing wrong with that," said Mike Davis, a food saftey supervisor for the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department. "I know a Chinese restaurant (House of Kee in Puyallup) where the owner puts up a sign telling people to bring their own containers if they want soup to go. It's the customer who's taking the risk of their own containers being clean."
5. Clean your plate. What you don't eat must be disposed of somehow, whether it's trucked off to the compost heap or trucked off to the rendering plant.