This is restaurant season.  When I’ve got the air conditioner cranked, the last thing I want to do is heat the house back up again by turning on the oven.  Add the fact that I’m outside more, taking more weekend trips, and the reality of eating at restaurants is omnipresent in summer.

We’ve covered before that quite a few restaurants can be absolutely terrible in terms of the eco-impact of their menu items.  But we’re all going to go out to eat every now and then.  How can we go green when we’re out?

If you’re staying relatively local – say, still in the state of California, plenty of restaurants have already accommodated for our green leanings.  What if you’re travelling outside California, though?

Several restaurant chains have already committed to making sustainable choices regardless of geography.  Familiar favorites like In-N-Out, Starbucks, Souplantation, and Chipotle will provide you with tasty food while keeping their footprint as small as possible.

If chains aren’t your thing and you’re looking to expand your horizons when you go out, check for LEED certification on the building.   Another international organization that can serve as a guide both in the USA and abroad is the Sustainable Restaurant Group, which includes a list of member restaurants on their website.

Other signs that your favorite restaurant is eco-conscious?  They won’t serve water until you request it, they’ll use cloth napkins, and the bathrooms have hands-free dryers. 

Like most sustainable practices, you can make the best choices if you’re willing to do a bit of research in advance.  Whether it means keeping a list of go-to places or planning your stops during a trip, the Internet is full of guides to help you identify restaurants that are serving green food while conserving.

And if that seems like too much work for you, just memorize this list of seven green fast-food items.

If you are what you eat, then be water-wise with your restaurant choices.