The Take Out Green Dilemma

Who *doesn't* enjoy bringing home leftovers from your favorite restaurant?
My favorite take-home food is leftover Bandito's nachos (which you can never possibly consume at one sitting!). There is nothing like waking up the next day, padding into the kitchen, and sinking yer fork into layers of cold, marinated, nacho yumminess for breakfast.

Now that I've made some of you hungry and some of you ill (depending on your view of leftover nachos for breakfast), let's stop for a moment and consider...
(from Iconocast)
"Styrofoam - Alarming Statistics

Did you know that over 25,000,000 styrofoam cups go into landfills every year? Styrofoam makes up 25% of our landfill space and is not recyclable, so any cup you use today will still be around 500 years from now. Incinerating styrofoam is not an acceptable alternative to burying the impervious material, as it gives off over 90 different hazardous chemicals, including styrene vapors and dioxin."
A *lot* of my friends are restaurant owners.
(And yes, please support and eat in your local community restaurants!)
But the biodegradable, environmentally restaurant packaging is not able to compete in price with existing conventional styrofoam / plastic takeout products.

It is something Jocelyn Tice, owner of Green Duck, an environmentally-friendly packaging and materials company, acknowledges and laments. But restaurants also want to do the right thing and are aware their customers expect them to reduce waste.

How to resolve this dilemma?
Well, my little brain might have come up with a challenge for restaurants considering and pondering this:

Restaurant Owners: Here's my challenge:
  • Invest $100 in biodegradable takeout containers.
  • Train your staff.
  • When a table is finished and would like to box up their meal, with a friendly smile offer:
    • "Sure! You may choose one of two options: You many have our existing containers for free, OR for 20 cents, you can take home your leftovers in an environmentally-friendly, biodegradable, corn or sugar-cane based container. What will it be?"
    • You allow your customers to choose and vote with their dollar power (I bet I can tell ya how they'll respond! : ) ), allowing them to pay for their contribution to greening their favorite restaurant.
  • You, as a restaurant, might consider signage proclaiming that depending on this trial period, if the restaurant utilizes all the biodegradeable products within the week, you will continue to order. Make it a friendly challenge to your customers! Encourage them to send their friends to your restaurant to eat and prove to you their appreciation for using earth-friendly take out ware!
  • Currently Green Duck is offering 10% off if, when placing your order, you say, "Copeland is cool." (hee hee)
...See what other local restaurants and organizations have to say about using earth-friendly products!


We ate at a lovely place on the way home from DC, and at several places in DC that resulted in at least 6 styrafoam takeout boxes going in the trash. I would have happily paid 20 cents extra to box my leftovers (and even my friends leftovers!) in environmentally friendly boxes. I'd love to see more local places take this step and will mention it when I patronize my usual spots in town.
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