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2 ELIMINATE TO-GO FOOD PACKAGING WASTE

This action focuses on eliminating the waste created by take-out food and beverage containers by using reusable containers, silverware and smart buying choices.

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why?

eliminate-to-go-food-packaging-waste Pie ChartTo-go food containers, including coffee cups, water bottles and take-out food containers contribute to a large portion of every day waste. The American population tosses out enough paper bags and plastic cups, forks and spoons every year to circle the equator 300 times (www.cleanair.org).

The waste stream of take-out food waste is typically plastic, but could be recyclable or non-recyclable. While some of this waste is likely recyclable plastic, the transportation and processing of recyclables is an energy use that could be eliminated entirely by not creating this waste in the first place.


how to do this action:

This action focuses on both bringing food from home (meals and snacks), as well as eliminating the waste from take-out food and beverages from coffee shops, fast food venues and restaurants.

PACKING MEALS/SNACKS FROM HOME

When packing meals or snacks, choose reusable options for packaging such as cloth sandwich and snack bags and reusable tins and tupperware instead of plastic/paper bags, foil, and plastic wrap.

BEVERAGES

Keep a coffee mug and water bottle in the car, at the office, or by the front door. When you get a drink, you can opt for your reusable bottles and avoid adding to the 2.5 million plastic bottles thrown away each hour. Some stores offer a discount for those who bring their own cups.

TAKE OUT FOOD

When ordering takeout or bringing home leftovers, ask that they not include napkins, utensils, coupons, or condiments. Carry these items with you or eat at home. Wherever allowable, ask the restaurant to use your own reusable containers for take-out food instead of plastic or polystyrene containers. This action may require you to avoid ordering to-go food from restaurants which don't allow you to bring your own containers. Let the restaurant know that this is the reason you are not a patron of their establishment. Many restaurants and even grocery stores do not allow customers to use their own food containers due to sanitary/health security reasons. While this is a valid concern, they have the option to provide recyclable or compostable take-out options instead.


what will be measured?

KEY QUESTIONS

QUANTITATIVE QUESTION: How many instances of getting to-go food were you able to eliminate the packaging waste compared to your normal habits?

QUALITATIVE QUESTION: How does the experience of eliminating to-go food packaging waste from your life affect your happiness, convenience, health and costs?

BASELINE WEEK TRACKING

QUANTITATIVE
During the baseline tracking week before the project begins, participants will analyze their typical to-go food consumption, keeping a log of how food is typically packaged either by themselves (taking food to work, etc), or by restaurants filling to-go food orders. Use the corresponding spreadsheet (WST2_BASELINE) to track how many times during the week you typically throw away some kind of to-go food packaging.

QUALITATIVE


Qualitative Scale

Using the above scale as a visual, rate each of the following criteria on the spreadsheet (WST2_BASELINE) as it relates to your current to-go food habits:

  • 1. SATISFACTION/HAPPINESS
    (Overall, how much enjoyment or dissatisfaction do you get out of doing and completing this behavior?)

  • 2. CONVENIENCE
    (How easy/difficult and accessible/inaccessible is this behavior for you to do and complete?)

  • 3. HEALTH
    (How healthy/unhealthy and safe/unsafe does this behavior make you feel?)

  • 4. COST
    (How much does this behavior cost? Use positive numbers for being above average and negative numbers for being below average and zero for being average.)

IMPLEMENTATION PHASE TRACKING

QUANTITATIVE
During the two month project, you will be committed to eliminating all to-go food waste, finding alternatives for beverage containers and identifying restaurants that allow you to use your own containers for take-out food. Use the corresponding spreadsheet (WST2_QUANTITATIVE) to track of the number of times that you prevented to-go waste from being created, either by beverage or meal container.

QUALITATIVE
Part 1 - Ranking


Qualitative Scale

Using the above scale as a visual, rate each of the following criteria individually each IMPLEMENTATION day on the spreadsheet (WST2_QUALITATIVE). Your answers should not be rated in comparison to your baseline week, but in general as a reflection of how you are feeling.

  • 1. SATISFACTION/HAPPINESS
    (Overall, how much enjoyment or dissatisfaction do you get out of doing and completing this behavior?)

  • 2. CONVENIENCE
    (How easy/difficult and accessible/inaccessible is this behavior for you to do and complete?)

  • 3. HEALTH
    (How healthy/unhealthy and safe/unsafe does this behavior make you feel?)

  • 4. COST
    (How much does this behavior cost? Use positive numbers for being above average and negative numbers for being below average and zero for being average.)

Part 2 - Blogging
Keep a narrative log of your experiences as you implement this action and how it has affected your life. Some of the following questions might be helpful as you reflect upon your experiences.

What is most encouraging or discouraging about this lifestyle change? How did the opinions and behavior of other people (restaurant employees, family members, co-workers) influence how you went about fulfilling this action? What tools made this action easier for you? Where there other small habits that you tried to change to help influence your ability to complete this action successfully?


resources

Take Out Without (TOWO) is an online initiative to reduce restaurant take-out waste.

ACTION SPREADSHEETS

The spreadsheets referred to above can be found in the Excel file at the following link:

WST2_Eliminate To-Go Food Packaging Waste Spreadsheet

If you prefer to enter your responses by hand, printable PDFs of each spreadsheet can be found at the following links (at the end of the project, all data will have to be entered into the Excel spreadsheet):

WST2_BASELINE
WST2_QUANTITATIVE
WST2_QUALITATIVE