Going out to eat is something millions of people around the world enjoy, and has become a way to celebrate a birthday, a way to relax after a long day at work, or a way to socialize with friends. The side to going out that many don’t think about is how it affects the environment. Most people think that it cannot have a bigger impact than eating anywhere, and everyone has to eat at some point, but is that true? Research has found that going out to eat leaves a bigger carbon footprint than cooking at home. In a study done by Chris Ying, he and his colleagues examined two restaurants and compared them to a home cooked meal to see who would have the biggest carbon footprint. In the study, they found that the biggest carbon footprint in every scenario was created from the ingredients, but the restaurants had higher statistics when it came to electricity and gas use. Overall, it found that restaurant #1 produced 13% more greenhouses gasses than a home cooked meal, and restaurant #2 produced three times the greenhouses gasses that a home cooked meal did. Cooking at home is found to be more sustainable because you can decide what ingredients you choose, meaning you can choose to buy the more sustainable options. In restaurants, you cannot choose, or even know, where the ingredients came from. Cooking at home also allows you to control what and how much you’re making, which limits the likelihood of food waste. Because you are making something you enjoy and you are making an amount that is right for you, you are less likely to throw out leftovers. Of course food waste can, and most likely, will be created at home, with some planning, it can be minimized greatly. Lastly, home cooked meals require less energy than restaurant kitchens, meaning you are decreasing the carbon footprint of the meals. At home, you are most likely cooking a meal only for yourself or your family using one of two appliances. In restaurants, meals are being prepared for dozens of people at a time using many machines, which use huge amounts of energy. Overall, eating at home is more sustainable than eating out, but restaurants should still be enjoyed and supported, especially as we all work to be more sustainable!
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