Don't throw away your choices when it comes to food
How many things have you thrown away today? Did you make a cuppa before work and throw a teabag in the bin? Did you get a takeaway coffee and throw away a sugar packet, a stirrer and then the cup? Did you bring your lunch from home and bin the cling wrap that your sandwich was wrapped in? Did you buy your lunch and grab too many serviettes that went unused and into the rubbish along with the plastic cutlery and box?
Sometimes convenience also doubles as disposable. And sometimes disposable is unavoidable, especially when it comes to food; and this is for good reason, good health reasons. Not everything can be re-used but a good start to minimising waste, and therefore detrimental environmental impact, is to reduce. You can start this at home and start today. It’s super easy! How many things on the following list could you tick off this week?
- Change to loose-leaf tea and use a strainer instead of chucking out a used teabag every time you make a cup.
- Use plastic film sparingly. Use a box or reusable wrapper to put your sandwiches in and put leftovers in sealed containers to keep the air off them and ensure they stay fresh
- Take a set of utensils or chopsticks to work or school so that when you buy your lunch you can proudly say “No thank-you” to disposable cutlery.
- Get a reusable coffee cup. In a city where cafe culture rules it’s almost obscene to get takeaways in Melbourne without your own cup. According to the calculator on the KeepCup website, if you use 1 takeaway cup per day then over the course of a year 10kgs of cups will end up in landfill, along with 2kgs of lids! It’s frightening.
- Buy a reusable water bottle. It takes 3 litres of water to manufacture a bottle that holds 1 litre of drinking water. That’s topsy turvy maths don’t you think?
So that’s home but what about when you eat out? Do you make a point of knowing where the disposable elements used at your favourite bakery or cafe or lunch spot come from? Are they biodegradable? Have they come from a sustainable or recycled source? Have you ever thought to ask? You may not be able to control an eatery but you can certainly vote with your dollar; if you don’t like the answer to one of these questions you can choose to spend your hard earned coin somewhere that cares about the same things you do.
Some simple things you can start doing straight away are:
- Keep the cardboard holder for the office coffee run. Make sure everyone knows where it lives and be sure to remind your colleagues to grab it if you see them heading out without it.
- Unless you are a complete grub 2 napkins should be ample! Don’t grab 10 if you don’t need 10.
- Japanese hand rolls like being taken away just as much in a paper bag, so say no to a plastic box, with an elastic band and too many little fish filled with soy sauce.
- If you’re not thirsty for water say no to the complimentary bottle and glass; once it’s poured it’s against health regulations to re-use the bottle for the next customer so don’t let your untouched glass mean that the whole lot goes down the sink.
- If you find a place that ticks a few of the boxes listed above, tell everyone! Spread the word about an eatery that has practises in place to minimise the environmental impact of bringing you good food. Especially ones that give you 50 cents off your coffee if you bring your own cup! (If your cafe doesn’t do this, suggest that they start, it’s win-win.)
The STREAT carts are perfect examples of doing what you can with what you’ve got. The ingredients are sourced locally where possible to cut down on the ‘food miles’ and therefore the emissions associated with transporting it. The cutlery is biodegradable and the packaging is recyclable of compostable. STREAT is even experimenting with using pots for the plants that come from recycled tyres! All these actions add up and if you choose to support a business that has a conscience then you can chow down with a clear one.
If you repeat an action often enough it becomes a habit...
“Good habits, once established are just as hard to break as bad habits” Robert Puller
Some local companies making some great products to get you started are:
- Street culture
- Social Enterprise
Buy a STREAT T-shirt