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New California Law Could Allow Diners to Bring Own Containers

By Fredrica Syren:

A new law passed in California provides guidelines for restaurants regarding how to safely fill consumers’ own reusable containers. This is a huge step for anyone trying to avoid single use plastic and wanting to bring their own reusable containers. 

I know the most sustainable choice is to eat at home and not order take-out. However, take-out is sometimes a necessity and sometimes simply a guilty pleasure. The guilt part is all that waste. There are Styrofoam or plastic containers (even cardboard containers are unrecyclable due to the interior’s thin plastic moisture lining), plastic lids, tinfoil or paper wrappers, brown paper bags, and a plastic bag to carry it all in. It’s depressing and difficult or impossible to recycle.

Worldwide, take-out food packaging generates tons of non-recyclable and non-compostable waste every day, much of which finds its way into the natural environment. In nature, plastic packaging breaks down into impossible-to-clean-up pieces, and harms fish and other marine life. 

This is when bringing your own containers to restaurants could make the difference. The new bill No. 619says that filling consumers’ own containers is optional, so it does not force restaurants to actually accept reusable containers. The bill does say that restaurants have to treat reusable containers as it would a hazmat spill by keeping it away from other surfaces in the kitchen; and, if it comes into contact any way, surfaces must be disinfected. 

Since restaurants have an option to accept or refuse customers’ containers, my suggestion is to choose a restaurant you regularly go to or order from. I also suggest, first, to call the restaurant ahead to make sure it’ll be okay to get your order filled using your own containers. If the waitstaff says no, you can ask for a manager; but be polite, no matter what the answer is. You can always try again later. Remember, being a good tipper never hurts. Here are suggestions for different ways to do zero waste take-out food.

About Green Mom

Fredrica Syren, the author and founder of Green-Mom.com, was born in Sweden. Her mother was a classically trained chef who introduced her to many eclectic flavors and skills at a young age. Her mom’s passion for the outdoors and gardening planted the seed for her own love of nature and healthy eating. She received a degree in journalism and has worked as a print, Internet and broadcasting journalist for many years with big businesses within Europe and the United States. After her mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer and she with pre-cancer, Fredrica changed her career to become a full time yoga teacher and activist. A longtime world traveler, foodie and career woman, she was exposed to many facets of life, but nothing inspired her more than becoming a mom. After her first-born, Fredrica began a food blog focusing on local, seasonal, organic & vegetarian dishes. Years of food blogging developed into the cookbook Yummy in My Tummy, Healthy Cooking for the Whole Family. Upon the arrival of her second child, Fredrica founded Green-Mom.com. Her vision was to establish a site providing insight about gardening, home and personal care, baby & child, and of course food & nutrition. Green-Mom.com hosts many talented writers shedding light on ways to incorporate eco-friendly and nutritious practices for busy families. She is an advocate for organic, local and sustainable businesses. Fredrica hopes to inspire social change through her lifestyle, passion and business. Fredrica lives with her husband James Harker-Syren and their three children in San Diego, CA.

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