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.