Green Scene

Dining downtown sustainably 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Dining out may not seem like a green way to spend an afternoon, but it can be. There’s no reason to forgo chowing down for the environment’s sake. As an eco-conscious, food-loving Bellinghamster, I want to share my go-to green tips for enjoying Bellingham’s bustling food scene. 

Eat Local. The term “food miles” refers to the distance comestibles must travel to reach our plate. Higher food miles mean a bigger carbon footprint due to the CO2-emitting trucks carrying the stuff. Aiming for low food miles is optimal.

Many restaurants in the downtown area get this concept. Thanks to Sustainable Connections’ handy Wholesale Producer Guide, Bellingham chefs can easily find delicious local ingredients for their dishes—think EAT’s Penne Provencal with local Cascadia mushrooms.

Ditch Disposable Cups. It’s easy to find a top-notch cup of joe downtown. Notable new café, Camber, and the classic Avellino are my current favorite haunts.

The city is lucky to have a thorough recycling program, but I still avoid single-use items, like coffee cups, as a general rule. Recycling, after all, requires lots of energy.

Using a reusable cup is a much greener option. Stainless steel mugs are great—you can find them locally in stores like the Greenhouse or Yeager’s.

When I’m not on the go, I always ask for my latte “for here.” Nearly every café, even chains like Woods, will serve your drink in a ceramic mug rather than a paper cup. This is a great way to cut down on unnecessary waste.

Just Say “No” To Plastic Straws. The unnatural size and shape of drinking straws make them a pesky environmental hazard once thrown away. Plastic straws only account for a fraction of the eight million ons of waste American’s send to the landfill each year, but they’re an ecological nightmare.

They’ve even been known to lodge themselves into the noses of sea turtles. That’s surely enough to convince me to go straw-free. You can buy your own reusable glass straw at downtown Bellingham’s Community Food Co-op.

Go Meatless. A staggering amount of food, water, land and energy (mostly fossil fuels) goes into raising animals for food. According to a report published by Worldwatch Institute, more than 51 percent of global greenhouse-gas emissions stem from animal agriculture.

It’s safe to say reducing your meat consumption will significantly shrink your carbon footprint. Adopting a vegan diet actually does more to lower emissions than driving a hybrid car.

I like to keep this in mind when I’m dining out. Vegetarian options are plentiful in downtown Bellingham. I wholeheartedly recommend the Hippie Bowl from Brotha Dudes, Brandywine Kitchen’s flavorful Tofu Bahn Mi, and basically everything on the menu at Leaf & Ladle (hint: bring your own reusable to-go containers).

With so many delicious vegetarian options at downtown restaurants, it’s easy to do your part in planet-saving.

Green Your Transportation. The Pacific Northwest is infamous for its blustery weather. We Bellinghamsters often use it as a reason to use our weatherproof cars as our sole form of transportation. But that’s what that practical rain gear from Backcountry Essentials is for, right?

I encourage everyone to face the elements, rain or shine, for Earth’s sake. Downtown Bellingham has an impressive walkability score, reliable public transportation, and bike lanes galore. There really is no reason not to choose an eco-friendly mode of transport.

Looking to show off your new commitment to green transit? Enjoy a progressive meal downtown. Now that you’re ready to walk, bike, and bus your way around, you can put your own green spin on the idea.

From my State Street apartment, I can bike to Rock and Rye for a happy hour cocktail and a delicious appetizer of Drayton Harbor oysters. From there, trudging over to Cosmos Bistro for a vegan burger is a breeze, but I almost always need an after-dinner jaunt to digest. More often than I’d like to admit, that jaunt leads me to Pure Bliss for locally-sourced dessert and a nightcap, finishing in time to catch the Route 1 bus home.

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