Avoiding the takeaway waste trap

takeaway food

Rethinking the rubbish we generate when we choose to order takeaway food is a great way to reduce the waste associated with the food we consume. This month people right across the country are taking part in the Plastic Free July campaign to shift away from wasteful food packaging habits.  

As the old saying goes ‘A moment on the lips, a lifetime in the tip’. Ok, so we’ve changed that saying but it does nicely capture the reality that short-term convenience often leads to material waste piling up in landfill.

Next time your tummy is grumbling for a quick food fix, keep the following tips in mind to reduce your impact on the environment.

1. Handback all unrequired single-use waste items

In the interest of customer service, many takeaway food outlets will fill your bag with anything they guess you might need. Unfortunately, this can lead to you being given plastic cutlery when your kitchen drawers at home are full of utensils. Almost every kitchen has a soy sauce bottle in the pantry too, so the mini soy sauce fish you often find swimming in your carry bag are not necessary.

A great habit to get into is to smile and return these unnecessary items before you leave with your takeaway. When done in a friendly way, restaurants will be thankful that they can save those items for someone who needs them. Plastic Free July is the perfect time to make this simple change to your takeaway habits.

2. Don’t forget your Love Food Hate Waste lessons

Ordering takeaway food doesn’t mean we should forget the valuable Love Food Hate Waste lessons of planning wisely, smart storage and loving our leftovers.

Overbuying can also be a problem when it comes to takeaway food. Order what your need or ensure any excess food will be used as leftovers or divided among your group if enjoying takeaway with your friends.

Smart storage of takeaway means assessing how long something will last before expiring. Seasoned and saucy foods are usually higher in salt, so they will last longer as salt is a preservative. Salads are more likely to go bad more quickly. Consider placing any leftover takeaway you have on the ‘eat me first’ spot in your fridge.  

3. Food delivery apps can be a trap

Depending on the app and the restaurant providing the food, using a food delivery app can often burden you with a lot of single-use waste.

If choosing to use these apps, look for ways to ensure all avoidable waste is left out of the delivery by leaving a comment in the ‘Additional instructions’ section of your order. Otherwise, use our next tip to ensure your food choices support better waste outcomes.

4. Not all cuisines create waste equally

When deciding what to eat on a lazy night in, keep in mind that different cuisines will naturally produce different levels of waste. For example, pizza night generates virtually no plastic waste and the cardboard boxes are welcome in Council’s recycling bins (even with a bit of cheese on them). Similarly, a single piece of paper could be the only waste from fish and chips, sub sandwiches, panini, hamburger or kebabs.

Unfortunately, meals which have separate components, condiments and sauces generate the most waste. So try to prioritise these cuisines for when you have time to enjoy the meal in the restaurant.

5. Use Trashless Takeaway and support Brisbane’s waste-conscious businesses community

Each week, more and more Brisbane restaurants are appearing on the national Trashless Takeaway. Trashless Takeaway provides hungry residents with a directory of restaurants that are happy to accept clean, reusable containers so disposable takeaway containers aren’t necessary. Any café or restaurant can nominate to be listed in the directory. Also, customers who have identified a restaurant that accepts reusables can also submit the restaurant as a listing. 

Just like the unstoppable rise of the reusable coffee cup, many Brisbane restaurants are playing a key role in ensuring they can accommodate the requests of customers to tackle waste. Remember to ensure your reusable containers are clean, have lids and are appropriately sized. Choosing this option may mean a 10 to 15-minute wait while your meals are pac kaged in your containers.

6. Keep a zero-waste kit handy for those unexpected eat-outs

One of the most powerful ways to reduce food waste and single-use item waste is to be prepared. The items you choose to keep handy are your personalised zero-waste kit.

Take a look at your habits and lifestyle. If you love getting smoothies or juices on the go, pack a sustainable straw in your kit. If you love eating saucy dishes, keep a cloth napkin in there too.

One item that should be in every kit is a set of cutlery or a multi-purpose eating utensil such as a ‘spork’. A spork is the classic ‘all-in-one’ including a fork at one end, a spoon at the other and an optional knife edge for cutting.

Build your zero-waste kit to suit your needs and consider items such as a reusable cup, sealable lunchbox, spork, sustainable straw, reusable bag and a cloth napkin. 

Remember the best zero-waste kit is the one you have on you so ensure your kit fits nicely in your briefcase, handbag or in your car.

More Love Food Hate Waste tips

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Date posted: Tuesday, 10th July, 2018
Last updated:8 May 2019
Topics: blog green