Our amazing local restaurants have weathered the COVID-19 storm. After getting vaccinated my first thought was, “Now I can go out to eat with friends and things will start to feel a bit more normal.” So that’s what I did, and it felt great, except for the fact that so many restaurants are still serving food and beverages with single-use disposables.
Back at the start of the pandemic, before health experts really knew what to do, the Centers for Disease Control put out some precautionary guidelines for businesses, including the suggestion that restaurants might want to serve on disposables. However, it’s been a year since worldwide health experts affirmed that reusable food service wares are actually just as COVID-safe. In the bigger picture, reusables are actually safer for our health because they are not made of or coated with toxic chemicals like plastics and PFAS (polyfluoroalkyl substances). Reusables also do not add to the waste stream, which for Montclair ends as air pollution from the garbage incinerator in Newark.
Our local restaurants that have struggled to stay afloat over the past year and a half are going to do whatever they need to for customers to feel safe dining with them. They may or may not even know about this conclusion that reusable plates, glasses, and refillable coffee cups are perfectly safe. As customers who value our local restaurants, we need to let them know that we feel safe dining with them and that we’d like to see them return to reusables.
Single-use disposables like plastic cups, plates, utensils and straws can actually cost restaurants between $3,000 and $21,000 a year. Over the course of the pandemic, restaurants have had to spend even more on these products because many have relied solely on packaging-heavy take-out orders. Now that we can dine-in again and have better information about the virus, let’s give our local restaurants a break and do what’s right for the planet. I encourage our community to support our restaurants in reopening with reuse.
Community organizer for Clean Water Action
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