Think you have to eat hippy food (whatever that is) to get takeout waste free? Think again! You can get virtually any kind of food waste free while you’re out and about, all it takes is a little planning.
I’ve been experimenting with getting food waste free, and have picked up some tips on it over the course of the last few months. Before you get waste free take out, you should know:
- Smaller businesses and restaurants are more likely to let you bring your own container than chain restaurants. Many of them are just not about to turn away business.
- If you’re going out with a friend, say into a city, anticipate what you’re going to eat. There’s a pretty nice city right next to me, and whenever my friends and I go out to eat, I know I’m likely to get something like a salad, so I bring a container that acts as a bowl. I also bring a lid, so once I’m done with my food, I can seal it and put it away in my bag mess-free. I’ll also usually bring a fork, spoon, and reusable napkin. I also love frozen yogurt, so I’ll bring a small cup or container for that.
- If you’re planning on bringing your food home, call ahead to make sure they’ll let you use your own container. If they say yes, once again, plan what you’ll need to bring.
- Be prepared to look for another restaurant if the one you’re at won’t let you use a container. By resorting to trash production when faced with an obstacle, you are creating less of a demand for a zero waste meal, defeating the purpose. And who knows? Maybe they’ll change their mind and you’ll get a trash-free dinner.
- It helps to be polite, patient, and grateful when restaurants cooperate.
- It may take a place a few tries before they give you your food absolutely waste free. For instance, during the school year, sometimes I would go out to lunch at this Chinese food place and ask them to put my vegetable fried rice in my own container. They were more than happy to do this, but still wrapped my container in a plastic bag, along with soy sauce packets, a plastic fork, fortune cookies, napkins, and a receipt. By communicating with them, eventually we were able to avoid all the extra stuff, and now I just get my container, without the extra trash, back.
- Anticipate condiments. Is the food place you’re going to going to give you salt and pepper in tiny little packets? If so, bring your own small jar of salt and pepper (I just mix them together in one jar) to sprinkle over your food. If you’re going to get coffee, will the coffee shop only offer those little packets of sugar? If so, bring your own small jar of sugar.
- These things will take some time to perfect, but once you get into the habit of it, it becomes easy! I pretty much never leave the house without a reusable bag, water bottle, container, and fork anymore, and it’s really not a lot of work.
So tonight, my dad and I wanted to go to this AMAZING fast food joint in my town and see if we could get a burger and fries waste-free.
Bellow is everything I brought with me. I actually brought a few containers too many(because my dad decided he didn’t want a burger). I brought two circular containers, one square one, one smaller one for ketchup, and it was all carried in a lovely tote bag my boyfriend got for me:
For practice, I had my dad order the food for me(he has less experience ordering food waste free). The people at the fast food place were a little confused, but more than happy to put my food in a container. So…SUCCESS! And it was delicious!