Takeout food is an easy, cheap and delicious option, but it isn't sustainable. Most of our food comes wrapped in unnecessary packaging, which results in more than 570 million pounds of food packaging thrown away in America each year. This situation is a waste of resources, and it's taking a toll in our environment.
What can you do to have a more sustainable lifestyle? First of all, encourage food services, delivery companies and restaurants to use compostable or recyclable food containers. Then, apply that advice to yourself. Stay with us at oneHOWTO to learn how to have sustainable eating habits by using the best eco-friendly takeout containers.
What can you do to have more sustainable eating habits?
Cooking your own food or eating it at a restaurant or diner will always be more sustainable than taking it away, since you save in containers and energy to store and reheat the food. However, you can eat takeout food and still have sustainable eating habits by tweaking some aspects of your lifestyle:
1. Reconsider your grocery shopping
Take a moment to think about what you can cut away and what you can carry with you to make your daily eating habits more sustainable and eco-friendly. For instance, when you go grocery shopping you should bring your own reusable bag and buy food in bulk to avoid using excessive packaging.
Nowadays there are zero-waste and local-grown grocery stores that take care not to waste environmental resources. Some stores will let you bring your own containers for food in bulk or sell compostable ones.
Spend some time doing research to learn what brands use recycled, biodegradable or compostable materials. Commit to brands and companies who use as little packaging as possible and you'll be pushing the entire industry in the right direction. Here you can learn how new eco-friendly product packaging can save the world - take a look!
2. Refuse unnecessary packaging and kitchenware
If you're getting takeout to eat at home, you probably don't need all those paper napkins and plastic forks, knives or straws. You already have those at home, so you can tell the restaurant or café to keep them for someone else.
3. Bring your own containers
This is the most important habit you can develop to help the environment. When you go for takeout, bringing your own bag and cutlery is not enough; try bringing your own reusable containers.
One of the food containers that harm the environment the most by sheer quantity wasted are coffee cups from chains like Starbucks or Costa. Read our article on how to have a more sustainable coffee habit and learn all about it!
Using your own takeout containers is also a great way to know how much food you actually need. Since you know exactly how much food you're carrying, you'll prevent adding to the tonnes of food that are wasted every year.
4. Reconsider your eating habits at home
It doesn't make much sense to carry your own containers around and have sustainable eating habits if you have polluting habits at home. For instance, you should consider switching to eco-friendly cleaning products, both for home hygiene and your own. Those products should come in recycled or compostable containers.
Take a look at your coffee filters, for instance. You can use biodegradable ones instead. The same goes for coasters, skewers, and other eating utensils you may be throwing away without a second thought.
What are sustainable takeout containers?
Luckily, our awareness of the need to care for the planet is growing and many companies have created different kinds of sustainable takeout containers.
Some companies are choosing recyclable food containers; this means that the container is thrown away, but the materials can be reused or composted for organic matter. Other companies focus on making reusable food containers, which require cleaning but do not add to waste.
In order to choose the best takeout containers with more sustainable eating habits in mind you need to pay attention to the product label. Check the materials and whether it has certified seals - like EcoLogo or Green Seal - in order to be sure the facturing process has also been environmentally conscious. For instance, does it adhere to fair trade and eco forestry policies?
An eco-friendly container should be biodegradable, with no plastic linings, or even compostable. Remember that compostable containers need to be brought to composting facilities, so you should check whether there is one near you. We recommend:
- Biobased plastic, poly-propylene or polythylene food containers: These takeout containers can be heated and washed, and they are very durable. Good sustainable brands include Get-Melanine or the Bio-Plus Earth model from Fold-Pak.Choose locked clam shell models so that no food leaks out, or collapsible bowls that can be folded into comfortable sizes.
- Vegetable fiber food containers: Bamboo containers are increasingly popular, as they are biodegradable and they can be dyed in bright, pretty colors. Take a look at BambooServe from Get-Melanin, which is made from bamboo fiber and peach gum. Different kinds of wood are also useful for sustainable eating habits.
- Traditional food containers: Lunch boxes, like South Asian tiffin carriers or dabbas, are a sustainable option as far as they can be washed, are durable and some parts can be used as plates. Some Tupperware reusable containers have sections to divide the food, which is useful. The classic mason jar has become popular for lunches recently, and although it is reusable it can be a bit impractical.
If you can't use a reusable food container for your takeout, you can still choose to use untreated, unwaxed and unlined brown paper bags. The same goes for cup sleeves, boxes, bottle bags and even straws and cutlery; nowadays there are biodegradable corn starch resin alternatives that will make your eating habits much more sustainable.
This is how to have sustainable eating habits by using the best eco-friendly takeout containers. What are your tips? What habits have you changed to help the environment? Tell us all in the comments section!
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