The Takeout Conundrum
When I order takeout from my local Thai restaurant, the amount of nonrecyclable plastic that is used to carry all that delicious food to me is absolutely out of hand. There are the thick, round plastic containers (which are no doubt a huge improvement in quality over their aluminum predecessors) as well as plasticware I simply don't need, plastic soup and rice containers, and, of course, the plastic bag that the whole thing was delivered in. And then when I think about the fact that all this plastic gets used only once, the real guilt begins to set in.
To be sure you can reuse these containers, and the latest ones are particularly (and ironically) durable, as well as microwave and freezer safe. However, how many of these can I really expect to hang on to? Because every time I order takeout, a whole new set of them comes into my life!
One option is never to order takeout, but I've never been a big fan of abstinence. Is it really an option never to order takeout? As much as I love to cook, takeout day is one of my favorite days of the week. It's really nice to be able to pick up the phone and have great food come to your door. There must be other ways to cut down on the packaging.
There's a restaurant near me, The Farm on Adderley, that uses only biodegradable containers, forks, spoons, knives, and bags for its takeout. Made of sugarcane fiber, corn starch, potato starch, or some combination thereof, these items are surprisingly durable even though they can be composted just after use. But since their biodegradability only works if you compost them, if you live in a city apartment like me, these things go into the trash as well.
Another idea I've had is for restaurants to offer a sort of "French Service" via delivery. They would bring the food to your home in their nondisposable pans, and you would greet them at the door with bowls, plates, casserole dishes, etc. The delivery person would then transfer the food into your dishes and bring his reusable dishes back to the restaurant. Granted this whole ordeal would probably cost customers more, but I might be willing to part with a couple of extra dollars if it means saving all that plastic. And on the takeout side, customers could just bring some Tupperware with them to the restaurant when they go to pick up their food.
Realistically, I don't see any restaurants offering something like this anytime soon, but I think it's time we begin to think about alternatives. We're not going to be able to waste this much plastic, without any immediate consequences, for a whole lot longer.