I have always loved watching good bartenders make me a drink. First they muddle citrus and other fruit (I like sweet-tart cocktails), then they fill the shaker with ice and mix it up. After tasting the drink with a straw to make sure it’s well-balanced, they strain it into an ice-filled glass and hand it over. Now I know I’m watching a small-scale eco nightmare. Discarded barely used citrus, ice shaken for 30 seconds then thrown down the drain, plastic straws tossed out—all for one little drink. And that doesn’t even take into account any unrecycled liquor and mixer bottles.
In the world of waste at restaurants and bars, the discards from one cocktail are equivalent to a raindrop in a storm. I go out to eat five times a week (it’s part of my job as restaurant editor at F&W), and I see an outrageous amount of waste in dining rooms, from the unfinished platters at family-style Italian restaurants to the uneaten remains of a monumental Korean barbecue dinner. I don’t order a lot of meat; I take home as much food as my little refrigerator can hold. Still, once I became sensitive to the problem, I wanted everyone to help solve it, even if just by composting a couple of muddled limes from a mojito.
- Eco-Friendly Picnicware
- Michael Solomonov Shares No-Waste Lessons from His Frugal, Immigrant Parents
- 7 Ways to Cook with Scraps and Help Stop Food Waste
Luckily, a lot of smart chefs don’t need me to harangue them: Across the country, they’ve developed methods for tackling waste that are varied and amazing. I found two different cities particularly interesting: San Francisco and—surprise—Miami, a place I don’t consider very environmentally friendly. (When local-hero chef Michael Schwartz was raising money to open his first restaurant, Michael’s Genuine, and tried to sell his Prius, no one would buy it.) From a machine that turns food scraps into water to an ingeniously designed grill that makes the most of every part of the fire, Miami restaurants are doing a lot of great things.