GreenYour Dining out
Avoid take-out and fast food packaging
Whether you’re on the go and in need of a quick lunch or craving some Chinese take-out from the restaurant around the corner, you may be able to lessen the packaging trash load with a few simple habit-changes.
How to avoid take-out and fast food packaging
- Brown bag it: Here's a simple solution: prepare ahead and pack your own food in reusable containers.
- Drink sustainably: Take your own coffee mug or water bottle. Some beverage bars even let you bring your own cup for slushie drinks, including Starbucks, Booster Juice, and 7-eleven.
- Carry home your recyclables: Many restaurants don't recycle. If they dont, bring the containers home to recycle. And if you’re left with extra packets of ketchup or wads of napkins, take those home too to use later. Need help finding out what you can recycle in your local area? Check out Earth 911 for a comprehensive listing of recycling facilities in your community.
- Provide your own eating accessories: Although most restaurants won’t pack their take-out food in your containers, you can always bring your own eco-friendly cloth napkins, recycled, chlorine-free paper napkins, and biodegradable cutlery to the fast food table. You’ll be following in the EcoAgents’ footsteps—a group that’s spearheading an ECO TO GO™ campaign to reduce excess take-out waste.
- Bring your own container for leftovers : If you think you might be "doggie bagging" it, why not pack your own reusable containers with you to take home any leftovers. Some are ultra-compact and better than the cardboard, plastic, or Styrofoam thing they’ll give you.
Find it! Fast food container alternatives
There's a container here for every need! And if you plan to re-heat food in them, opt for glass over plastic.
These glass containers come in three different sizes and are made with microwave-safe glass that can also go in the freezer and the dishwasher. Seal your food for a later day with a plastic food-safe lid. Three-piece set.
These clear, biodegradable PLA plastic food containers come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Intended for use with cold food, these canisters come with a yellow screw-on lid. One-use options are also available.
Perfect for all kinds of meal items and snacks, these modular-designed food containers are microwave safe and lead-free. They come with a stainless steel fork and spoon as well as a helpful user guide.
Seal-up your leftovers in these nonporous glass containers that won’t stain, warp, or absorb odors. They can go from oven to freezer to microwave to dishwasher, have a 2-year warranty, and are made in the USA.
Using Certified Organic hemp or linen, these Euro-made table fashions come in 12 sizes and five colors. Rawganique offers cloths to fit rectangular, round, and square tables. Can be purchased with coordinating napkins.
Don’t have room to be packing heavy glass containers for those restaurant leftovers? Slip one of these collapsible containers in your purse or briefcase for your next dining out experience. They flatten to 1” tall (including the lid!) and then expand to hold your food when needed.
Made from 80 percent post-consumer recycled content, these napkins are soft and absorbent. Choose between white (processed without chlorine bleach) and brown (unbleached) for your next get-together. Seventh Generation carries a large variety of household products, including other paper products, cleaning agents, and laundry detergent. Most of their products are available in local groceries and health food stores.
These utensils are made from 80 percent non-GMO corn starch, and 20 percent biodegradable filler material and can handle temperatures up to 190 degrees Fahrenheit. Each set is wrapped in compostable packaging as well.
Package meal items with care with these reusable, food-safe cloth wraps made with vegetable-based dyes. Sized 13" x 13" when open, they easily wipe clean and come in blue, green, red check, or eco-print.
Avoiding fast food and take-out packaging waste helps you go green because...
- Fewer resources are used to create your one-use packaging.
- Less waste is sent to landfills, including plastics that can take up to 1,000 years to decompose.
Eating on the go generates mountains of garbage. Sixty-four percent of the waste created by fast food restaurants is paper and plastic from the packaging. But on-the-ground fast food joints aren’t the only source of take-out waste. Cruise ship passengers each generate 7.7 pounds of garbage daily—compared with the 1.7 pounds produced by each local person on shore. In addition, cruise ships often does significant damage to coral reefs when they dock. And US airports generate approximately 425,000 tons of garbage.
Currently there are no federal regulations that force US companies to reduce their fast food waste, although a few local governments are encouraging such action. When Wilmington, North Carolina began requiring restaurants and bars to recycle garbage, the amount of recycling increased by 75 percent—from 1,500 to 2,000 pounds per day to 2,500 to 3,000 pounds per day—within the first month. And some chains have voluntarily switched from non-recyclables like Styrofoam packaging to more eco-friendly options, although these moves are small in relation to the size of the problem.
Recycling paper and plastic from restaurants can have a large environmental impact. The recycling process produces less pollution and uses fewer resources than manufacturing products from virgin materials. The Green Restaurant Association recommends that restaurants not only recycle their garbage, but also carry recycled paper goods, tree-free paper products, and biodegradable dishes and flatware for take-out.
- What I Found In Las Vegas Hotel and Restaurant Waste
- ResponsibleTravel.com - Are cruise liners a viable alternative to flying?
- Natural Resources Defense Council - Trash Landings: How Airlines and Airports can Clean Up Their Recycling Programs
- WWAY News Channel - Bar and restaurant recycling creates jobs
- Full Circle Resources - Restaurant Waste Reduction Manual: A Step-by-Step Approach Page 8