For many of us, enjoying a good takeaway meal is one of life’s small luxuries. It’s something to look forward to during a long day at work, or when you just can’t muster the energy (or time) to get creative in the kitchen. However, the increased convenience too often comes at a large environmental cost.
Unfortunately, takeaway and single-use plastics go hand-in-hand. Meals are often accompanied by items that we will only use once before throwing away - plastic cutlery, plates, and straws, styrofoam containers, and takeaway cups. These items live a short life before being disposed of in landfill or our oceans, where they take up to a thousand years to break down and pollute the environment in the process.
Now here’s the thing - we don’t need any of these products. So why do we continue to use them? Habit? Convenience? Laziness? It’s time to take matters into our own hands - let’s look at the sustainable advantages of bringing your own!
Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Refuse. The first step is simply saying ‘no thanks, I’ve got my own’ next time you are offered disposable cutlery or containers by your favourite takeaway spot. For those who eat out a lot, it’s easy to bring reusable cutlery and a container in your bag wherever you go. There are some fantastic eco-friendly options, such as biodegradable Wooden Cutlery and Bamboo Straws from Coconut Bowls, that also don’t pose the health risks associated with plastic. As with all BYO, the hardest part is remembering - but once you’ve gotten into the habit, you’re set!
At this stage, everyone should be familiar with the danger of plastic bags. If a takeaway spot, food market, or any other vendor offers you a plastic carry bag for your food, you’ve got two options; a) politely refuse and opt to sit down and take the time to enjoy your food (or simply carry it in hand), or b) whip out the reusable bag that you cleverly chose to bring with you (a-ha!) and pop your food safely in there! When it comes to single-use plastic bags, there are so many sustainable alternatives that are more convenient, more stylish, and that don’t take a thousand years to decompose.
In the same vein, reusable coffee cups are an easy way to make a big difference. They’re relatively inexpensive, will keep your coffee warm, and won’t harm the planet! Many cafes also offer eco-friendly discounts for keep cups - so you could end up saving money in the long run. Our on-the-go culture has made takeaway the norm - for a welcome break, try sitting down and taking the time to enjoy your coffee or chat with a friend. Chances are you and the environment will feel much better for it.
Australians spend an estimated $385 million on bottled water each year, much of which is just bottled tap water. For a country that has some of the best quality tap water, this is inexcusable.
Ditching bottled water in favour of bringing your own bottle is both environmentally and fiscally responsible. The process of producing and filling plastic water bottles with water causes an enormous amount of CO2 pollution - and that’s before even considering the overwhelming amount of bottles that end up in landfill. Save money and the planet by getting yourself a refillable water bottle and taking it with you everywhere - you’ll never look back!
Getting behind the BYO ethos requires commitment, planning, and a good memory! Keeping these tips in mind will help you to adopt waste-free habits that will stick with you for a lifetime, without making you give up the small pleasures in life.