Eating out and taking a break from the kitchen is needed every so often. Sometimes you know you can’t make your favourite dish as good as your favourite restaurant and you just have to satisfy a craving. Dining in does present you with some options to make your meal more sustainable, however ordering take-out often leaves you with more waste than you thought. First there’s the packaging that it comes in, then there’s the emissions of a potentially inefficient route driven by the delivery driver and finally the leftovers you have to deal with.
When a global pandemic hits, and forces restaurants to offer only take-out options it can leave those of us who enjoy eating out and caring for the environment scratching our heads. During difficult times it is very important to help out your local businesses however, ordering take-out regularly to support them also greatly increases your waste footprint. We have put together a few tips to help continue to support your favourite local restaurants while also helping to lower your waste footprint.
Say no to delivery. The convenience that delivery services have provided us is quite surprising. You can get everything from your groceries, to a bottle of wine, to a slurpee from 7-Eleven delivered to you. And while convenience is nice sometimes, it doesn’t always prove nice for all involved. Some of the major delivery services take quite a large portion of the profits from local businesses when people order through them. Also I don’t know if you have ever watched the tracking maps on the apps but sometimes the delivery drivers seem to take very strange paths to get to their destination. Order your food for pick-up so that you can take an efficient route and reduce your emissions. Or if you live close enough, try walking or biking to get your food. You’ll burn calories before your delicious meal and you’ll save on emissions.
Say no to plastic bags. When ordering your food specify that you would like it to not be bagged in plastic. That way you can bring along your own reusable bag and skip out on another plastic bag being added to your growing collection. If your plastic bag collection is getting out of hand, you can recycle the bags at the recycling depots on the North, South and West sides of the city. Due to the nature of the machines doing the sorting of the blue bin recycling at the Waste & Recycling Centre, plastic bags cannot be put in your blue bin. They would end up getting blown around and caught up in the machinery causing some major problems.
Say not to plastic cutlery packs. I don’t know about you but I have a growing stash of plastic cutlery packages that have come with my take-out orders. Most of the time I do ask for no cutlery however, I do forget sometimes, which is okay. Remembering to do some of these things is the first step towards better take-out. The pre-made packages are one of my worst nightmares, single use plastic cutlery, wrapped in single use plastic film or bags, GROSS! Instead use your regular cutlery when you get home, it may create more dishes for you to wash but that’s less waste going into our landfills. If you’re headed out for a picnic try and remember to bring some cutlery from home also.
Reuse. Reuse. Reuse. The biggest problem with ordering take-out is the amount of packaging that is required to get it from the restaurant to your house. And most of the packaging is single use only or can’t be recycled due to contamination. When you do get take-out from a restaurant that has packaging that is reusable, save it! Wash it out and keep reusing it and finding new purposes for it. I love getting things in foil containers that you can wash out and use to make even more delicious meals in. Maybe in our near future we will be able to BYOC (bring your own container) again, but for now, save & reuse what you can at home.
Don’t be a leftover loser. If you’re like me and like to order a little extra so you can keep all the deliciousness for the next day, then proper storage is key. As convenient as it is to just put the whole pizza box in the fridge, chances are the next day your pizza will be stale and your fridge will smell like day old pizza. Storing food in airtight, sealed containers will keep your food fresh for longer and keep the flavour in. Most leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days which gives you plenty of time to enjoy all the gooey goodness of that pizza!
Right now there are a lot of things that we cannot control when it comes to the world. But you can control to some degree the amount and type of waste you are creating. Supporting your local restaurants and supporting the environment can both be done so both are benefited. Lower your take-out waste by adopting some of our tips and continue to use them even when the pandemic is over.