Eating out: Convenient meals without the waste

When life gets hectic, grabbing a quick meal or snack while on the go can be a major time-saver. Unfortunately, despite the convenience, takeout can have a big environmental footprint. When you’re in the drive-thru to get your morning coffee, or ordering a pizza for late-night studying, how often do you think about the waste you throw out afterward? According to one CBC News article, nearly half of all the garbage collected from public trash receptacles in the city of Vancouver is comprised of disposable beverage cups and takeout containers. While some people might think to recycle them instead, many recycling programs don’t accept containers and cups that have a plastic lining (like many coffee cups). So how can we have our favourite fast foods, without the environmental impact? The tips below can help you minimize waste that comes with takeout meals.

  • Bring a travel mug for your tea or coffee. Not only does this avoid the waste of a disposable cup, but travel mugs will keep your drink hot longer, and good ones will prevent messy spills should you knock it over or drop it. Canadian Geographic estimates that between 1.6 and 2 billion disposable coffee cups are thrown away by Canadians per year!

  • Opt for a reusable water bottle instead of plastic ones.

  • Bring reusable containers for fast food or leftovers. A lot of restaurants are happy to fill clean containers if you ask. Keeping containers in your car or backpack will mean you almost always have one handy.

  • Invest in a spork! Plastic cutlery is not recyclable.

  • Say no to the straw. Straws can’t be recycled, and are often unnecessary for you to enjoy your drinks.

  • Get things “for here” instead of “to go” whenever you can.

  • If you’re a student at McMaster, you can join the Eco-Takeout Container Program by purchasing a green card for $5 from certain campus locations. This allows you to get your meals in a reusable plastic container. Considering you pay 25 cents for each paper takeout container you use, this will actually save you money if you eat on campus often!

Check out McMaster’s Eco-Takeout Container Program
Read the CBC article, “6 ways to do takeout – without the waste for more information and ideas:
https://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/zero-waste-takeout-1.4867042