Living a fast-paced life in the city can often leave us feeling exhausted and unorganised. When coming home after a late night at work, or it gets to 3 pm and you realise you still haven’t had lunch, preparing a meal can be the last thing you feel like doing, or sometimes you are just craving that yummy Indian or Thai from the takeaway shop down the road.
This quite often is us, a naughty habit we have developed over the years and one we find hard to shake. As I have mentioned a number of times we are not perfect, there are still many things we are working on and in all honesty, sometimes I just want a dirty burger and fries. Can we still enjoy the naughty pleasures of our old life while still being environmentally conscious? I think we can.
The best options are of course to slow down and take the time to eat in or take your own containers to the restaurant for takeaways to avoid getting any packaging. I think I do this well in some respects, but I know there is still room to improve. Sushi was the first thing I started using my own container for. I had the perfect shaped container and my own set of chopsticks, with a refillable glass bottle of soy sauce at the office. Simon has a container at work he takes to the kebab shop, where they know his order. He has even noticed a few other people starting to bring their own containers as well!
My first package free lunch reusables.
But what about that day where we are unorganised and caught without our reusables, low on energy with not enough time or with others that don’t live the same lifestyle? We can still make a conscious decision to reduce our impact. Let’s use the dirty burger and fries as an example. These are normally sold as a combo with a drink, which is typically more cost-effective for us. Ever thought about ditching the drink? We have! A disposable paper cup is not recyclable, they are the same as a disposable coffee cup, lined with plastic with no way of separating the plastic from the paper. They generally also come with a plastic lid and the horrible straw, we have all grown to hate.
What about the burger and fries packaging!? This is where it gets a bit grey - most come in paper or cardboard packaging. While this is far better than plastic, as per last week’s blog post on Deforestation, we still need to think about the impact paper products have on our environment. I also think it is hard to tell if the paper products are lined with plastic or wax, so there is still a lingering question as to whether they are truly recyclable!? This is when you can do some research and work out what takeaway stores around you have good packaging. I know that Burger Fuel has developed packaging using recycled material and is either recyclable and/or compostable. They even use printing ink made from a vegetable oil base and sourced from renewable resources. Better Burger’s packaging is now also made from compostable materials, even the plastic – you just need to ensure that you dispose of it correctly, as it’s only compostable in a commercial compost, such as those run by “We Compost”.
Goodlife Juice Company Zero waste Lunch
There are also companies like Zambrero where, with every meal you buy, they donate another meal to those in need. Zambrero partners with international hunger relief agency Rise against Hunger, helping provide millions of nutritious meals to disadvantaged communities across Africa, Asia and the Americas. So far, they have donated 22,996,887 meals. Pretty cool right? As your burrito comes wrapped in aluminium foil, you can also avoid excess packaging at places like this by refusing a bag or napkin. And this can apply to most places – there is generally some form of packaging that you can refuse as you likely just don’t need, such as plastic cutlery, a bag (either plastic or paper), excess napkins and straws etc. The key is to be proactive in making sure the server knows that you don’t want these things.
A great example of an eatery really trying to make a difference, and one of my personal favourites is Goodlife Juice Company. Not only is the food delicious and healthy, but all the pre-made salads are in mason jars. All you need to do is pay an extra few dollars to keep the jar, which you can then either return and swap it for another jar filled with salad or get a refund. You can also return their glass juice bottles which get reused. So amazing!
Simon's kebab in his own container and my homemade lunch.
While the best option is to always make the extra effort to take our own containers with us wherever we go, for the times that we forget or get caught out, we don’t have to completely ditch our values. When you have the time, you can do some research and create a mental list of go to places – ones where you can avoid plastic, that uses compostable or fully recyclable packaging, make it easy to ditch items you don’t really need, or businesses that are really thinking about the environment and/or social issues.
As I always say, no matter how big or small your change, it can make a big difference. So next time you’re out getting takeaways, think about what you can do to reduce your impact on the environment.