It takes approximately 20 seconds to put our food into take out containers. Convenient? No, actually extremely inconvenient. The packaging can remain in our landfills forever, causing continued damage to us and our world. The American population tosses out enough paper bags and plastic cups, forks and spoons every year to circle the equator 300 times. Wouldn’t it be better to fill our stomachs and not our landfills?
Since restaurants add so much to our waste-line (read as waist-line too!), and we frequent them regularly, help your restaurant help you reduce your waste (and it will be great for all of us too!).
Here are 10 easy things for restaurants to do that will, in the end, be great for our health, wallet and the world!
10 Easy Ways to Reduce Takeout Waste
- Join TakeOutWithOut the campaign to reduce restaurant waste. It’s free, helpful and will fill you up with some great ideas and free downloads
- Use reusables instead of disposables for everything possible. That’s your job – yes, people might stare, but remember, you are a trendsetter and it’ll soon catch on – just like reusable water bottles have over the past years.
- Encourage restaurants to use compostable, safe options for their required disposables. We get that restaurants don’t want to give takeout patrons a cloth napkin, but no need for them to use virgin paper all bleached and processed.
- Reduce the amount of packaging to what is only absolutely necessary. No double bagging please. If you aren’t going to use them, don’t take a handful of ketchup packets, soy sauces, straws or cutlery. Supply and demand. If you are taking your takeout meal home, we’re hoping you have cutlery there.
- Suggest they sell smart & safe solutions (reusables) such as bottles, containers, straws, bags, etc. Imagine seeing an amazing container or a reusable bag, it might inspire you. You may buy one or more. The restaurant will make money while encouraging new habits and creating awareness. If they offer an incentive to keep bringing the container back, you’ll be a more loyal customer. The restaurant will have less of a need for disposables, saving them money, and saving our precious resources. Win, win win!
- Encourage them to incent their customers to bring/use reusables by offering a discount or something for free (they should be able to afford it – see #5 above). Who doesn’t love getting supersized? Wouldn’t you bring your own mug if you were getting more? Or bring your own bag if you were able to get something for free because of it?
- Recycle and compost on site. This is an easy one. In Toronto, we are already sorting everything at home into compost, recycling and garbage. It should be happening everywhere else in the city also.
- Suggest donating surplus food to a community meal service or directly to those in need. Random acts of kindness rock our world!
- Applaud them! Change comes from without. Tell them how great they are and send customers their way because of all the good they are doing.
- Let them know to pass this on to others and encourage them to be TOWO champions. They will want to inspire others just like you’ve inspired them!
Together we can change the outrageous amount of unnecessary waste we create everyday as well as drastically reduce it. Don’t’ forget, we are the customers, and aren’t we always right? Your power lies in your wallet and your voice matters. That’s got to be worth trying for!
About the Author
Lisa Borden is an eco-advocate and mother of three, whose business is a direct reflection of her commitment to better, more responsible living. She is a dedicated workaholic, admitting that it takes a lot of time and effort to change the world, especially in her non-preachy, fun, engaging and inspiring ways. Lisa consults, writes, engages the media, runs private workshops, and enjoys speaking to large and small groups. Her full-service marketing firm, Borden Communications + Design Inc. is based in Toronto, Canada and takes great pride in being an ethical business providing exceptional ideas.