Before I left the house yesterday I chucked a banana in my purse thinking it would tide me over while I was out running errands. One errand led to another, the banana was long gone and all of a sudden I was starving!! So I ended up with a salad and a drink from a deli at the mall. I also ended up with a bunch of garbage: a plastic deli container, a drink cup, lid and straw and a couple of paper napkins. I'm sad to say that it all went into the trash.
Getting better at reducing this kind of waste has been on my mind for awhile. I always feel guilty about it but I haven't come up with a solid plan for how to avoid it. Truth be told...I'm a bit embarrassed to be seen as an eco-geek. I'm cool with bring all sorts of containers to the co-op, but out there in the 'real' world, I'm less comfortable rocking the boat. Let's say I bring a reusable container to the deli and ask them to fill it up instead of using a new plastic container. What if the salesperson gets confused or thinks I'm a nutcase? What if people look at me weird for bringing out my own utensils? What I've realized during my many years on the planet is that I don't like to draw attention to myself.
But this is a hurdle that I'd like to try to get over. Why should I care if someone thinks I'm a nut? What do I really have to lose? Taking the time to educate people about a greener lifestyle is obviously something I enjoy doing, why not do it with complete strangers every once in awhile?
Part of what's got me motivated is this awesome new campaign called TakeOut WithOut. It encourages both consumers (that's us!) and restaurants to reduce restaurant waste by forgoing unnecessary food packaging. I'm psyched that they are working to get restaurants on board with the program because, just like bringing plastic bags to the grocery, once you get the store in on it, customers will feel much more comfortable participating. The campaign website also offers downloadable wallet cards that you can hand out to your favorite restaurants to help explain the concept.
The other thing that got me motivated was that Beth from Fake Plastic Fish asked us GreenMoms about how we handle this kind of stuff and I was kind of embarrassed to admit that I'm not very good at it. So I came up with a plan for reducing waste from takeout. Take it or leave it...
Think Ahead - Anticipate when you will need to eat out. Don't be unrealistic like me - thinking that a banana will tide you over for hours on end.
Make a TakeOut Kit - You can keep it in your purse or your car - whatever works for you. For awhile there I was keeping my glass straw and my nifty utensil wrap in my purse but it was getting too cluttered so I took them out. Now I am going to keep those things plus some previously used takeout containers in an old lunchbag - in my car. My plan is to pull out what I think I will need before I go into the store.
Choose Wisely - Support restaurants that are cool with people bringing their own containers...or at the very least, provide compostable ones. Skip stuff you don't need like straws, lids, plastic bags or extra napkins.
Next time I need to eat while running errands, I've got no excuse. I'm viewing it as social experiment....and a test of my own courage. :) Wish me luck....
How do you handle takeout? Do you bring your own containers? How about a reusable straw? Does being viewed as an eco-geek worry you or are you a brazen eco-warrier without concern?