July 14th, 2014
07:00 AM ET
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Kate Krader (@kkrader on Twitter) is Food & Wine's restaurant editor. When she tells us where to find our culinary heart's desire, we listen up.

In July, we get to celebrate many things. It’s our nation’s birthday. It’s also National Ice Cream Month. On July 21, you can revel in National Junk Food Day, which I have several ideas for.

And now, I’m excited to celebrate Plastic Free July. The three-year-old project aims to eliminate single-use plastic for the entire month. I love this idea—beaches get so littered with plastic bags, straws, bottles and more, so it’s the perfect time to use reusable totes, those adorable paper straws and biodegradable plates and cutlery.

As usual, several chefs and restaurants are way ahead of me, including my hero Mario Batali. Let’s salute some of the especially environmentally friendly spots as we celebrate Plastic Free July with biodegradable cups and no plastic straws!

Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group - New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles (@mariobatali)
Superstar chef Mario Batali and his restaurant group made headlines when they instituted a “straws upon request policy” in all of the Batali & Bastianich Group’s restaurants (including Del Posto and Babbo in New York, and Chi Spacca and Pizzeria Mozza in L.A.). They also replaced plastic straws with compostable paper ones, and plastic stirrers with ones made from bamboo.

B&B’s sustainability director, Elizabeth Meltz, estimates that before making these changes last summer, they went through more than 250,000 straws and stirrers per year. 

The Grey Plume - Omaha, Nebraska (@thegreyplume)
This new American restaurant is on another level, eco-wise. It’s built almost entirely from reclaimed materials, including recycled steel framing and stairs, recycled drywall and reclaimed barn wood in the dining room and bar. They have an extensive recycling and composting program, even converting their kitchen grease to biodiesel, and they use entirely compostable or biodegradable to-go boxes and silverware, toilet paper, napkins and straws. In fact, they’re one of the country’s few 4-star certified green restaurants.
Uncommon Ground - Chicago, Illinois (@uncommongrd)
Some restaurants like to say that their food comes from within 100 miles of their location, which is pretty cool. Uncommon Ground likes to say that many of their ingredients come from within 300 feet, from their rooftop farm, the first certified organic one in the country. No surprise, Uncommon Ground focuses on sustainable, seasonal dishes like the Uncommon Chopped Salad (romaine, local bacon, Gorgonzola, cucumbers, avocado, scallions and smoked-tomato ranch dressing). The restaurant also uses solar power to heat their water.

Next up, Uncommon Ground is adding a brewery to one of their two locations, featuring organic hops and possible beer collaborations with local chefs. 

Slapfish - Los Angeles, California (@slapfishseafood)
This sustainable seafood shack sources their products from eco-friendly fisheries and even has a partnership with the Aquarium of the Pacific, in Long Beach, to ensure that their seafood is ethically sourced and sustainable. Specialties include the Banh Mi Burrito with BBQ white fish, a classic lobster roll, and the Clobster Cake, a mix of lobster and crab. Of course, their takeout containers and napkins are biodegradable.

Rouge Tomate - New York City (@rougetomatenyc)
One of NYC’s best (and most sustainable) restaurants also has an incredible history of eco-friendly practices. In addition to featuring local and organic products, Rouge Tomate also recycles almost everything they can and has an excellent composting program. The tables, flooring and doors were all created from reclaimed materials and their to-go cutlery is biodegradable.

Ruggles Green - Houston, Texas (@rugglesgreen)
As the first certified green restaurant in Texas, this mini chain focuses on organic, healthy food with specialties that range from Hi-Protein Hempanadas (made with hemp flour, and stuffed with hormone-free beef) to Spicy Southwest Smoked Chicken Pasta. They use water-saving appliances and wind-powered electricity and have a full-scale recycling program. They even offer organic and biodynamic wines. 

Chipotle - Worldwide (@chipotletweets)
Chipotle’s environmental cred is well documented but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t shout it out here. For a chain with more than 1,600 locations, they do a super good job, avoiding factory-farmed food and featuring organic and sustainably produced ingredients that are locally sourced as much as possible. Their containers are environmentally friendly, made from products like recycled newsprint. Even employee uniforms are made from organic cotton. Way to go, Chipotle.

More from Food & Wine:
Delicious Ice Cream Recipes
Best Ice Cream Spots in the U.S.
Ultimate Candy Guide
Candy Remix Recipes
Frozen Drinks Perfect for Summer

U.N. report: Our oceans are trashed with plastic
How to stop wasting food in 2014
4 ways to combat food waste at home (and save a little cash while you're at it)

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Filed under: Content Partner • Environment • Food and Wine • Ocean • T1 • Waste

soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. timelord7202

    What, there's no economic value in picking up after themselves?

    July 14, 2014 at 5:17 pm |
    • Doctor

      Dig deeper. The issue isn't simply individuals not discarding items properly. It's the flotsam that flies off the boats that transport garbage from one place to another combined with tides that wash items ashore.

      July 16, 2014 at 6:10 am |
  2. Chico Escuela

    I use both sides of my toilet paper–a trick my Dear Mother taught me back in Guatemala . I must now go to work at Taco Bell…Viva free toilet paper.

    July 14, 2014 at 1:05 pm |
  3. Damselinsos

    Why would you use plastic cutlery? It breaks so easy. Pick-up a spare silverware set at an estate sale/garage sale. This can be your camping/outdoors set so you don't mess up your own place settings. Re-useable grocery bags are not new. Re-use the plastic grocery bags that you acquire when you accidentally forget your re-useable bags by lining bathroom trash cans or to transport wet swimsuits.
    The biggest envirnomental concern of summer that I would like to do away with – the Chinese laterns. The float somewhere else, and the paper, wire meshing stays ont the ground. Animals can get tangled. Even the ones that are biodegradable take months to degrade.

    July 14, 2014 at 12:53 pm |
  4. Reese Sykolible

    " ... it’s the perfect time to use reusable totes, those adorable paper straws and biodegradable plates and cutlery." Biodegradable cutlery, when added to soil, still takes months to break down IF and only IF someone opts to recycle it properly. If they don't, then hello ocean floatie and you've solved nothing. Paper straws?! Ever used one? Collapses halfway thru your drink and is unusable. So use two? Now I'm killing more trees.

    'Scuse me. I have to go fill up my Hummer.

    July 14, 2014 at 7:54 am |
  5. Grammar Patrol

    "On July 21, you can revel in National Junk Food Day, which I have several ideas for."
    Professional writers with any cred will not end a sentence with a preposition. Try harder.

    July 14, 2014 at 7:44 am |
    • Kat Kinsman

      Not true anymore:


      July 14, 2014 at 1:43 pm |
      • Grammar Patrol

        English being a live and spoken language is prone to change. However, at what point do we concede that one should write the same way one speaks – as inferred by the first article?

        July 14, 2014 at 2:01 pm |
        • Egon the Great

          Q: How do you comfort a grammar nazi?
          A: there, their, they're.

          July 14, 2014 at 2:08 pm |
      • RichardHead

        I got prepositioned by a Nun once in Hunt's Point,NY…I tried NOT to make a habit of it.

        July 14, 2014 at 2:02 pm |
    • Egon the Great

      A Texan was visiting Harvard University, and was lost. He stopped a student and asked, "Do you know where the library is at?" "I sure do," replied the student, "But, you know, you're not supposed to end sentences with prepositions." "What?" "Prepositions. You ended your sentence with an 'at', which you aren't supposed to do." "Oh, ok," said the Texan, "Do you know where the library is at, a–hole?"

      July 14, 2014 at 2:05 pm |
      • Grammar Patrol

        HA! That's right.

        July 14, 2014 at 2:14 pm |
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