A fascinating campaign aimed at reducing unnecessary restaurant packaging is urging supporters to bring their own resusables (BYOR) and to refuse disposable containers, cups, bags, even straws. Take Out Without asks its members not only to bring their own containers but also to upload photos of their actions to the TOWO Flickr Group and to hand out TOWO informational wallet cards explaining how restaurants can reduce their food packaging waste. The campaign’s creed:
1) ReFuse Unnecessary Stuff. Think about the spoons, forks, straws, and napkins that you get served (why do they give you enough for a family of 20 when eating alone?). Ask yourself before accepting all these items, “Do I really need all of this?”
2) Re TakeYour Own Reusables. You can bring your own containers, straws, cutlery, mugs, bottles, and even your own bag – It’s so easy to find and use!
3) ReConsiderYour Habits. It’s easy to fall into a routine, so why not choose to create a new one?
Lisa Borden of Borden Communications & Design, the force behind Take Out Without, explains how she came up with the idea for the campaign. Lisa explained that the idea originated with one of her clients, a manufacturer of bamboo products, who wanted to take action against Styrofoam. But Lisa wasn’t interested in stopping at Styrofoam. Why not target all restaurant packaging waste?
…in a day and age where too many of us spend more time eating and drinking from restaurants and cafes over our own kitchens, it’s an issue that is broad enough to be able engage so many into taking action.
Lisa herself would rather stay home and cook her own meals. But when out, she prefers sit-down restaurants over carry out and chooses those that practice waste reduction as much as possible. Her favorite restaurant creates compost from leftover food, which is then used to grow the organic produce they serve. But she recognizes that unfortunately not everyone has the time to cook at home or sit down for a meal. In those cases, bringing our own containers for take out or leftovers can make a difference.
What if a restaurant won’t do it?
From my experience, there are businesses that have no problem filling up my containers (the Chinese restaurant down the street, the butcher shop, Whole Foods, my local cafe, the sandwich guy on the corner) and there are those that do. And there are those that ostensibly do but actually don’t get it. Take this example from Lisa:
Some businesses get it, some just don’t….
[Once] I went proudly into a great cafe and handed my Insulated Klean Kanteen over to them and then realized that they made my drink in a disposable, poured it into my mug, and threw out the cup! Moral of the story: always check the process, not just the end result!
I choose to frequent spots that do get it, or want to…. but it’s amazing what businesses will do for your business. Remember to explain WHY you are bringing your own containers. Then you’ll be the brilliant one starting a trend.
My attitude? First, ask. You won’t know if you don’t ask. Then, patronize the businesses that will comply with the request and steer clear of those that won’t. I always try to explain why reducing waste is important to me and why I won’t be coming back until they either start letting folks bring their own containers or at least switch to sustainable, compostable packaging.