Updated: Apr 13
Being plastic free/ waste free in your own life is easy nowadays. You have (almost) total control over what you use, what you buy, how you avoid certain plastics and reduce your own waste.. But being plastic free doesn't pay the bills. And no matter how regimented you are with your own lifestyle there is probably a big chance that you won't be able to re-inact those beliefs into your work place. This article is advice for waiters/ waitresses but you can take the general ideas into any work place, especially if you're struggling with your growing ethical concerns that might not be matched by a work place.
I was a waitress for more than 4 years during my studies. In this time I worked in a few different restaurants around the world! Some were incredibly proactive with reducing waste, some weren’t. Here is some advice and support if you’re a waitress stressed about plastic and waste at work!
1) What your workplace does, does not impact your own beliefs, lower your efforts or reduce your own ethical beliefs. It PAINED me when I see how much food is wasted, lack of recycling and every straw in every drink is torture. I also know that unfortunately right now I am in a world system that requires us to work. I have my bills to pay, even for this website I pay yearly (a lot actually) and so I have to earn money. I am extremely passionate about changing this system and to help people work less and consume less. But, putting your own job on the line for the sake of changing this micro- system probably isn’t worth it. If you want to generate greater change, contact your MP, government or Donate some of those tips to an environmental NGO.
2) Business waste vs personal waste is VASTLY different, especially in restaurants. Food waste is an unfortunate part of restaurants. I worked in an INSANELY eco friendly "waste free" restaurant from using every part of the vegetable, to composting and sending precisely the right amount of food- they even didn't allow us to upsell food!! But even there, we got waste. It's just inevitable, because no body can predict how much a guest will eat!
3) Making eco-changes in a business can take a long time. Give your work place credit. Making changes ourselves is much easier than the many facets that go into a business design. Give them credit if trying!
4) Believe in your boss. I understand that sometimes it's not possible to choose where you work. But, I find it really helps to believe in where you work. If you know that they are a good honest company, family business or willing to try within their abilities, that goes a LONG way. If you know that your workplace doesn't give a sh*t, if there are other options for work, consider finding somewhere that will at least try...
5) Find the professional balance between being just that- a professional, leaving your personal issues at home and also finding ways to help. Your workplace might be really interested in doing more. Go carefully. Eco within businesses can take time and sometimes is just NOT possible. For example heavy duty cleaners are often a legal health and safety requirement. Some changes might be really simple, such as asking guests if they want a straw instead of assuming they do- but ask your boss first. They might want to trial it first.
So, if you’re worried and stressed by waste at your work place, you may have a few options. But remember, solving the worlds issues is not on your shoulders alone. Finding positive solutions doesn’t always mean conflict- you might find your work place extremely excited to work towards waste free whilst some may not have resources themselves to make change.
Dont forget the power of contacting your MP!