Zero Waste

Reducing Waste in 2018 Part 2: Refusing Takeaway Containers

It’s the 8th of Feb already and I’m a tad late in this post – sorry man! There is a lot of behind the scenes movement at UnPacked that I can’t wait to start revealing to you – an online shop, a package free market stall in April and manufacturing a proudly South African reusable product – exciting things evolving from the UnPacked brand.


How was your refuse the straw habit in January?
Social media is bubbling with activity of companies and shops and people refusing straws. Awareness is growing and people are slowly sucking less and less!

There is a wonderful movement on Instagram #IAmFaithfulToNature where you can view, and share, ways of being faithful to nature; see what others are doing and share your steps to curb your plastic and single use item use or how you’re managing your waste or may be giving back.

I always have my straws in my bag and I’m intentional when I go out knowing that if I am heading to buy a smoothie or may get a coffee, that I have my reusables on me. There has been one fail this year so far in that I had Kauai fill my ecoffee cup with my smoothie and the server popped a straw into my drink.

For the month of Feb – it’s quite a short one (plus there’s Valentine’s Day to think about)- I want to encourage us to get into a conscious habit of carrying a reusable cup and a reusable container, in a bag for outings.

I bought myself an ecoffee cup, it’s pricey so some people would find it doesn’t make sense to buy one – you could use any travel bottle/ container you have at home – you could view this as a stand against plastic and the cost and waste of valuable resources that go into creating a paper cup that gets used for 10 minutes and chucked into the bin and will need more resources to recycle, or you could see it as a chance to speak up and ask for discounts on purchases where one isn’t using their packaging and see it as your cup slowly being paid off.

I use it for more than just coffee – I use it if there is a juice bar or smoothie bar and I was encouraged to use it at the cinema for slush puppies, for ice cream if I don’t want the cone, and G&Ts at a music festival or market or picnic…

Some people have said they still prefer glass to the bamboo or reusable plastic cups. I recommend getting a glass mason jar with a handle and using that for the things I’ve mentioned or get a Keepcup.

IF you have forgotten your reusable cup then I suggest, refuse the plastic lid that comes on the drinks being ordered – ask servers to not put on a lid on that drink at the movies, leave off the lid on the drink from that drive-through, leave off the lid of the coffee takeaway cup, leave off the lid of that smoothie.
You’ve refused the straw so you can refuse the lid because you can sip from a plastic cup, you can sip from your straw.
I understand life is fast and drinks can be hot – on this journey, I’ve discovered to be more mindful and intentional when I go out, slow down and sit down and refuse something altogether if it’s not green and sustainable (so that may mean not getting a cup of coffee at all).

Honestly, I’ve tried to use my ecoffee cup for slush or a soda before – this is what I encountered – they used a plastic cup to measure the contents I needed to then put it into my reusable and they said they were not going to reuse the plastic they’d just measured with, it was heading to the bin! I am shocked at that mindset… so I don’t always use my ecoffee cup or reusable at the movies or at Burger King or at the trampoline park – I will accept the paper cup (compost or cut up for wormies) and refuse the lid and if its a plastic cup I’ll take it home to reuse until it falls apart to be ecobricked.

I think if there was more of a voice surrounding using reusable cups, and conversations about discounts for reusables, and more of a movement around reusable cups, then servers and their management would also change the way they approach filling up our reusables.

As a rule to becoming zero waste, REFUSE is number 1 – by refusing something I have learnt there is less to worry about later on in terms of managing the left over waste, but as bad as it may be I am still going to be lus for a takeaway meal one night because I don’t feel like cooking and I don’t feel like trying to decide which restaurant will cater to my energetic child.

We have started to request no lids on our drinks, no straws, we request no napkins and no sauces and we then still go through our takeout bag and remove anything that may be single use – and some restaurants will throw in plastic cutlery so we need to remember to check for that too.

If you wish to really up your game –
when you’re heading out for sushi or pizza or Indian takeout for example – take along your own chopsticks (for sit down and refuse for takeaway) take along your own container for soy sauce and wasabi and ginger and, if you forget those, you can refuse the containers OR take them and remember to reuse them next time, take a tray for pizza takeaway (you skip the box and the hassle of deciding to compost it or send it to be recycled), take your own bowls with lids for Indian takeout and remember to refuse or give back the plastic cutlery and the napkins (napkins and tissues are a topic for another day).

Is this too much to process for one month? If you feel like you need to develop and form these habits over two months please comment and tell me how you feel. I’d love to hear back more from you.

Refuse takeaway containers, use reusables, carry your own, eat well, shop well, refuse altogether if you must.

And please share with me your pics of you ordering out or eating in and how you’ve succeeded (or failed) in managing your waste and single use. #wastelessrefusemore

Reusable Containers

Until next time…

waste less • refuse more

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