We haven’t been kind to the Earth. Oceans are drowning in plastic. Fires are raging in forests from California to Greece. And, according to the latest UN climate report, global warming has reached a “code red for humanity.” Unfortunately, these disastrous events coincide with a year where many restaurants have had to close their doors for dine-in guests and pivot to delivery and takeout orders, generating mountains of additional plastic waste as a result.
But there are actions you can take to make your food delivery habit a little more green, from ditching single-use cutlery to storing leftovers with sustainable alternatives to plastic wrap. Below, we share our top tips to minimize your eco-footprint when ordering takeout food. Because knowing that you’re doing something good for the planet makes that slice of pizza taste so much better.
Keep it close to home
While that pizza place on the opposite side of the city might be a few dollars cheaper, or that Indian take-out joint in that faraway district a notch more delicious, the longer your food has to travel from the restaurant kitchen to your front door, the more taxing on the environment it becomes. By ordering from restaurants closer to home, you help reduce carbon emissions from the trip your delivery driver has to make.
Better yet, order from restaurants within walking distance of your home. Not only will that help completely avoid carbon emissions from your would-be delivery drivers’ motorcycle trip, but you can also ask the restaurant to pack your order in your own Tupperware box or container, saving heaps of single-use plastic bowls, bags, and boxes.
Skip the napkins, forks, and ketchup packets
We all have that one kitchen drawer: filled to the brim with plastic-wrapped napkins, unopened condiment packets, and plastic spoons and forks in an assortment of shapes and sizes. This junk collection grows with every delivery order until Spring Clean season comes around and you throw the whole bunch away.
In most cases, these items are unnecessary additions to your order. After all, you already have cutlery at home or in your communal office lounge. Greasy fingers can be cleaned with some water and soap, and unless you don’t already have it in your cupboard, do you really need that small plastic packet of ketchup or hot sauce?
Many food delivery apps and websites give you the choice to opt-out of (some of) these unnecessary extras. If they don’t, make it a point to ask, either in the ‘additional comments’ box on the app’s check-out screen or over the phone.
Keep leftovers fresh (plastic-free!)
When ordering takeout, you have little control over the portion size. So ending up with some leftover food is bound to happen. It’s easy to reach straight for the garbage bin, but with a little creativity, you can turn the remnants of last night’s takeaway into an easy lunch or dinner. Stir-fry leftover rice with egg and veggies for a quick fried rice, or use up leftover vegetables and grilled meat as taco filling or a topping for salads. And let’s face it—reheated pizza can be incredibly satisfying.
Don’t grab the plastic wrap to store your leftovers, though. With SuperBee’s Beeswax Food Wraps, you can snugly cover plates and takeout bowls to keep your leftovers as fresh as when they arrived at your doorstep. As a sustainable alternative to plastic wrap, these all-natural beeswax wraps can be reused for up to two years. And because beeswax is naturally antibacterial, they will keep your food fresh for longer than plastic wrap and foil.
Reuse and recycle
Some restaurants have already adopted a deposit-and-return system where diners can order their deliveries in reusable containers. At most restaurants, however, single-use containers are still difficult to avoid. But these containers don’t have to become garbage after you finish your meal (and if they do, make sure you toss them in the correct recycling bin).
Lidded takeout containers made from sturdy plastic still have plenty of mileage if you reuse them as boxes to store snacks, fruit, or leftover dinners. They’re freezer-safe and often designed to be easily stackable, making them perfect vessels to keep curries and soups in your freezer.
And they’re not limited to holding food, either. Use them to organize nuts and bolts in messy drawers; keep them in your office as a catch-all for rubber bands, staplers and pens; give them to your kids to store LEGO blocks in; or use them for craft projects. With a little out-of-the-box thinking (pun intended), the possibilities are endless.