I’ve mentioned bringing breakfast and lunch to work so far, as well as bringing tupperware out to dinner for leftovers. And, of course, we’ve briefly touched on bringing along containers when buying in bulk (I promised I’d get back to this in the future and I still intend to keep that promise). But there’s one more container-related item we need to discuss, because food and how we contain it are so central to the modern waste stream: when you know you’ll be ordering something to-go, BYOJ – bring your own jar – or reusable container of your choice. Pictured here is a delicious smoothie I ordered while volunteering at an event recently – I didn’t have time to pack a breakfast before heading out at the crack of dawn, but there’s always time to grab an empty jar and I made sure to bring this one (simply a reused jar of some sort from a prior grocery purchase – made before this project began) because I knew there would be vendors at the event.
I didn’t want to lapse in my project or make excuses for “just one” to-go container, because it becomes so much easier to break this commitment the second (or third) time, and before you know it you’ve slid right back into your old, more wasteful, habits. So, my trusty jar and I stopped at a vendor on our way to the volunteer booth and picked up this delicious treat, packaging-free. I got one funny look when I first asked for my drink to be poured right from the blender into my own container, but the server quickly adjusted, and ultimately thanked me for bringing the jar!
To-go containers are such an ingrained habit in many cities that it can feel daunting to shuck the status quo and ask for something different – and to be sure, there are some places, depending on where you live, that will not be cooperative. But overwhelmingly I have found that it does not hurt to ask. If you can’t bring your own food in your own containers, politely asking for a restaurant to serve you in them is the next best thing. And for those of you living in Seattle, be aware: this is NOT against the health code! I have occasionally had restaurants tell me they can’t serve me in my own container because it’s “against code,” but if you read the health code (as I have done), and/or ask them (nicely) to show you where in the health code it actually says this, you will quickly find that this is not the case. I’m not advocating for a fight with a restaurant that doesn’t want to serve you in your own container, but a polite inquiry shouldn’t hurt. Over time you will learn which restaurants in your neighborhood, near your office, etc., are willing (and often happy!) to serve you in a container you bring in.
P.S. The straw in this picture is my own reusable straw – I have shown it once before and I’ll likely show it again – soon it will be featured in its own official post!