HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >

Discussion

Restaurants Please think Green! Use Less Packaging for Take Out Orders.

Think about how much garbage comes with one take out order!

It is really important that we all communicate with our favorite restaurants and take out places that we want less packaging with our orders. With all the problems in the world today this may not be a number one priority but without much effort you can help the environment and reduce garbage in our landfills at every meal.

If you would like to share your comments or innovative solutions for the food industry please post.

Some Simple Basic Ideas!

Simply ask your favorite restaurant to use LESS packaging for your take out order!

Ask For One Bag! We don't need paper and plastic for our chinese take out!

Ask your pizzeria to line the bottom of the box so it is free of food then it can be recycled

Take plastic utensils, napkins, paper plates, straws, paper cups, extra menus, salt and pepper, ketchup, duck sauce, mustard, and soy sauce only if you are going to use them.

Wrap items in foil then you can reuse when reheating.

Use Eco friendly products

Please recycle and throw away trash. Do not throw trash out your car window.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. Make your own food and pack your own lunch in reusable containers!

    1. Some packaging is not really that bad. I go to one Indian place that used to give reusable plastic containers with its orders and now it's switched to these paper ones that cannot be reused.

      1 Reply
      1. re: queencru

        my favorite sushi joint uses recylcable plastic containers, which is great now that my trash service switched to single stream recycling and takes plastics up to #7!

      2. It's too bad restaurants don't allow you to bring your own containers. Not sure why but I think it has to do with liability, in case you get sick and the blame game. In asia, a lot of places will allow you to bring your own containers, partly because it's less cost to the restaurant or stand.

        2 Replies
        1. re: gourmet wife

          yeah - I always see articles suggestion that you take your own containers, but I've never been a place that would actually let you use them.

          1. re: jujuthomas

            Our family has been re-using resturaunt takeout containers for our fridge storage containers for ages. In fact by now I would say that around 80% of the containers we use to keep our food in the fride orignally came in filled with takeout. The re-sealable thing are not only free (when compared to buying storage containers) they tend to have a better seal, plus they are dishwasher safe and (as is discovered the time it needed to get rid of some boling fat, able to hand much higher temperatures without melting. When there are extras (and given the amount of takeout we tend to eat, there usally are) I've discovered they're also great for garden prep (the while or black kinds make great incbators fro giving seeds in peat pots a head start, and the clear cotainers soup comes in are just perfect for allowing tomatoes to ferment (for the seeds) without causing the whole house to smell.

        2. This isn't a well thought out list. You want extra packaging (lining) so another part of the packaging can be recycled? Why use foil, when most people reheat food in the microwave? I don't follow the 'One Bag' bit. Several of the points apply to patrons, not the restaurants.

          Some restaurants, especially chains, design takeout packaging specifically for their products. Others just buy the most convenient options at Sams Club or Cash-n-carry. Packaging is a cost that they would like to control, but they also have to satisfy customers, and make efficient use of their staff.

          4 Replies
          1. re: paulj

            Any attempt to discuss curbing or streamlining the amount of trash generated every day by take-out foods is to be applauded. I makes me crazy sometimes to think of how much plastic trash is made everyday by delivery food. I ask for the minimum packaging and extras I can get - but still, it's a lot of crap every single minute of every single day ........How would you suggest we go about it Paul? (seriously).....

            1. re: EmoryJ

              At a restaurant store, I saw a 'caterer's plate' - a thin plastic plate, rough square, with a knife and fork molded in to the rim. The diner can break those off (much as I used to break parts of the molding tree for model airplanes). One corner had a notch, designed to hold a plastic wine glass. Looked like it would be convenient to hold and eat while standing, or sitting without a table.

              Is this an example of over packaging, or of cleaver design?

              1. re: paulj

                I like it, would use it for casual, larger dinners at home.

            2. re: paulj

              Agreed, Paulj. Many of those rules are "you can't please everybody" type suggestions.
              We never re-heat anything in foil and that's just wasteful. Some recycling still won't take foil with food waste on it. Don't most people put it on cookie sheets, plates, or into the MW?
              If they use one plastic bag and the food leaks, there's no paper liner to absorb the mess, so you end up with a puddle that invariably gets all over your car.

              I was talking to one restaurant owner this morning who pays customers $1 off their next order when they return their carryout containers. They do. He says that he probably loses money on it but the customers like it so he continues the program.

            3. I'll go along with most of this but I hate it when my food item is wrapped in foil.
              When I see them doing it I ask them to stop.

              1. Took a tour of a NJ Landfill yesterday for education.

                Truth is everyone has their opinions and packaging and how our food will but whatever we can do helps. It is eye opening to see how much garbage we create!! Thank you for reading and listening!

                1. How about eating-in or preparing you own meal, instead of take out? I suspect take out inherently generates more waste than other dining options.

                  1. How about bringing your own storage container? Doing take away - order at the place and give them your containers. NO waste. Leftovers and you do not want to be bothered with packing a takeaway box - be very mindful of what you order so you do not have to bring it home. I split meals and order appetizers so I will not be piled down with leftovers.

                    Someone posted here that restaurants do not allow your own containers. Mine does (WA). It may be a state issue. Nobody ever asked me in FL, but I would have.

                    You should not recycle items that have food on them. Even stains of food.

                    1. I got soup at a thai place in a food court not too long ago that charged a $1 "bowl deposit" which would be refunded if the bowl was returned. It was a hard plastic container (which i'm sure carries it's own problems), but I thought the idea was good. I personally had no trouble returning the bowl, and left the $1 to put onto the tip. Funny thing is, i went to another thai take out place this evening that had "green" take out bags for $2, but yet all of their take out orders were in plastic and packed in plastic bags with plastic cutlery.

                      I do agree with the extra menu thing though, almost every place i've been to just automatically staples it onto the bag.

                      1. I think that before we automatically take our leftovers home it would be great if we thought for just one minute.... will I really reuse the leftovers next day? If I know I am going out for dinner the next night and don't need the food for lunch, or if that salad won't keep because of the dressing, or the amount is too small to bother with then I decline.

                        Also at take out places, I say no plastic cutlery because if I am going home I don't need it, and if going back to work we have plenty already. Same for napkins and straws.

                        1. To reduce your carbon footprint when combing through neighbourhoods for undiscovered deliciousness, walk. It also has the immediate advantage of allow you to pause to read the menu, scope out the place, see what people are eating, and sample the smells.