“Kumain ka na ba?”
It cannot be denied that we Filipinos LOVE to eat. From bunso’s perfect quiz score to daddy’s work promotion, every milestone in our lives has always been traditionally celebrated with food. This also adds to the fact that we Filipinos are very social creatures, celebratory food is almost always accompanied by the laughter and warmth our country is known for all over the world. This is why it’s not a wonder that dining out in restaurants has almost become a daily habit for us. With our fast-paced lifestyles, higher disposable incomes, an emerging presence of global gastronomic trends, and the rise of unique dining concepts such as food streets and food parks, dining out has become the most convenient means of expressing this innate love for food.
But as with anything done in excess, there will always be negative points. According to the International Rice Research Institute, Filipinos waste up to approximately 308,000 tons of rice every year. And according to the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, around 2,175 tons of food scraps end up in trash bins daily in Metro Manila alone. Yet, according to the latest 2017 SWS survey, that 3.6 million Filipino families experience involuntary hunger at least once in 3 months. Which makes you think, why are so many people going hungry when there is so much food being wasted? As diners and genuine lovers of food, we have to accept that a part of this problem lies on the traditional consumption and production mechanisms currently present in the local food service industry.
Sustainability has been a buzzword in any industry where climate change adaptation is concerned. Though the dining industry isn’t usually top-of-mind when it comes to environmental protection, the fact that humans need food in order to survive would always have an implication on our natural resources. Wasting food can actually contribute to the greater climate problem because whenever food is wasted, we also unknowingly waste the number of resources used just to produce that food. The different ways in which this food is eventually served to us in restaurants also affect the total amount of greenhouse gases emitted.
Can we, as Filipino diners, do something about this? The answer is a resounding YES! We have the power to positively impact our local dining industry, and it all starts with the dining choices that we make everyday. Here’s an easy 9-Step Restaurant Guide for all those who want to become #TheSustainableDiner!
9. DINE IN SUSTAINABLE RESTAURANTS OFTEN.
A lot of local restaurants are now integrating sustainable practices into their operations. By choosing to dine with them, not only are you rewarding them for choosing to promote sustainability, but you are also encouraging others to join the movement.
8. CHOOSE DISHES MADE OF INGREDIENTS IN SEASON.
Most restaurants offer special dishes to capitalize on ingredients that are in season. Try out these dishes! That way, you are able to help our local farmers and fisherfolk while enjoying the freshest produce our country has to offer.
7. BE ADVENTUROUS! TRY PLANT-BASED DISHES!
Meat is a good source of protein. But meat production, especially beef, uses a huge amount of natural resources. There are a lot of delicious vegetable dishes out there, so why not explore? Your taste buds will definitely thank you!
6. ORDER ONLY WHAT YOU CAN FINISH.
Filipinos love food, pero ‘wag takaw tingin! By ordering only what we can consume, we help lessen food wastage. But if leftovers can’t be helped, do take them out and eat at home.
5. ASK ABOUT THE DISH AND ITS INGREDIENTS.
Sustainability entails sourcing fresh produce locally. By asking questions, you are letting restaurants know that dishes made from ingredients sourced from our local farmers and fisherfolk are very much appreciated.
4. DON’T BE AFRAID TO REQUEST FOR MODIFICATIONS.
Half rice lang po! There’s no harm in trying to ask for order modifications. If possible, your servers would be more than happy to comply.
3. BRING YOUR OWN REUSABLE UTENSILS.
Ayaw natin sa plastic! Avoid using plastic utensils, straws, and containers, which restaurants would most likely provide. Not only will you help save the environment, you are also helping restaurants achieve their own sustainability goals.
2. SEGREGATE YOUR WASTE PROPERLY.
Some restaurants and fastfood chains would require diners to practice CLAYGO, or Clean As You Go. When required, make sure you segregate your trash properly. It’s a great help for restaurants, who are conscious about how they manage waste.
1. EDUCATE YOUR FRIENDS ABOUT SUSTAINABLE DINING.
We Filipinos love to dine out. YOU have the power to influence and educate your friends and family through words and actions. Encourage them to follow your lead for a more sustainable Filipino dining scene!
If we gradually change how we think about food, our actions will really go a long way in saving the environment! Contribute to a more environment-friendly Philippines through your dining choices. Become #TheSustainableDiner in your circles today and together, it is possible to #SustainOurAbility to grow food, produce food, and ensure food security for us and future generations of Filipinos.
The Sustainable Diner project, under World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Philippine’s Sustainable Consumption and Production, is part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI). The Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) supports this initiative on the basis of a decision adopted by the German Bundestag.