The Mindful Merchant

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a New Takeout Twist January 21, 2010

Filed under: environment,environmentally friendly,health,health warning,save money — MindfulMerchant @ 8:54 am


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There is an exciting new campaign beginning. It is called TakeOut WithOut – an initiative to reduce restaurant waste. It is simple and smart. All you have to do is say no to unnecessary packaging when you take out. 


K.B, Lee, founder of Ever Bamboo created this non-profit campaign because of the dangers of polystyrene (Styrofoam) and excess packaging especially when it comes to take-out. He collaborated with Lisa Borden of Borden Communications and TakeOut WithOut launched to inspire and help people fill their stomachs…not the landfill.

In addition to manufacturing and environmental concerns, there are serious hidden health risks associated with common takeout containers.  Most foam cups and takeout containers are made with polystyrene. The main chemical component, styrene has the potential to leach into your food, then you, then the landfill. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has determined that styrene is a possibile carcinogen to humans.  Plastic containers can be recycled, but they contain resins, which also pose serious health risks. They are also made from petroleum, a resource in short supply.   These are good reasons to try and avoid these hazards.

160 x 160 So what is involved?  It is easy to do.  TakeOut WithOut (TOWO) is asking consumers and restaurants to…

Refuse unnecessary stuff. When taking out say no to unnecessary packaging like napkins, plastic cutlery and the plastic bag. Take only what you need.

Retake your own reusables. Bring your own coffee mugs, containers, bags, cutlery and bottles. (Carry extras in your purse, briefcase, backpack or car so you will always have on hand.)

Reconsider your habits.  It might take a while to break an old habit, but even small changes have a big impact.

This initiative is healthy, saves money, and the environment. You can click here to check out the Takeout Without website and join the campaign.  If you feel inspired, please forward the website to friends, co-workers and your favourite restaurants.  Let’s keep the campaign growing! 

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16 Responses to “a New Takeout Twist”

  1. Johan Says:

    Great idea! It is so simple I can’t beleive I never thought of it. This type of waste is shameful! I am going to do this for sure and tell family and friends to do the same.

  2. XUP Says:

    Have I mentioned that I’m loving your blog. So many good ideas and useful information without being the least big pedagogical about it. I’ve actually had restaurants get a bit huffy when I refused their chopsticks or little packets of soy sauce. I had one place refuse to put my leftovers in a container I brought — I don’t know if there’s some sort of rule about them not being allowed to “serve” food in random containers. This is what they claimed anyway. The best way to avoid take-out waste though is to avoid take-out altogether!

    • Thank you for your kind comments XUP…it means so much considering you write one of my absolute FAVOURITE blogs. 🙂 I am not surprised restaurants were huffy at your request but good on you for trying. I notice the TOWO website has a participating restaurant section…it will be nice to support businesses that care too.

  3. Jen Says:

    Thanks for the heads up. I hope this campaign really catches on. It’s disgusting the amount of packaging that most restaurants use for take-out items. The thing I don’t get is why are they still using foam containers??!! I prefer to leave my extra food on the plate then ask for a ‘doggie bag” except if its wrapped up in an aluminum swan. They’re so pretty. Just kidding. B.Y.O.C(bring your own container!)

  4. A small thing that I do at fast food restaurants is to bring back unused ketchups packs, etc. to their counter (I hope they don’t just throw them out!) Great ideas, Laura!

    • K.B. Says:

      yes, some restaurants may throw them out as they’re not sure if the unused packs have been tampered with. For me, this is how I do it…I request for what/how many packs i need (and I underestimate a little as I could alway ask for more later).

  5. DJ2 Says:

    I hope TOWO catches on. Restaurants should display signs saying they’re participating in this campaign. Then their patrons will know to bring their own containers for leftovers or that they’ll have to ask for the plastic ware etc. for take-out.

  6. Lesley Says:

    Great post.

    At work, our office really does a good job — we use real cutlery and plates, and we have ketchup, vinegar, & soya sauce so no one needs those little packages or take out cutlery.

    If we all pitch in – it will make a huge impact.


  7. Karen Says:

    When I get take-out and I know I am going home to eat it I try to always say no thanks to the plastic cutlery they offer.

    Other things I say no to are ketchup packets and tartar sauce packets because when I get home I know I won’t being using them and it seems like such a waste to throw them out.

  8. Priscilla Says:

    Laura – I agree, it’s disturbing the amount of waste we make on daily/weekly basis. However, the IARC classifies styrene as a “possible” carcinogen, not as carcinogenic to humans as you state. IARC reviewed styrene most recently in 2002 and IARC found that the data did not justify listing styrene as a “probable” carcinogen, and cautions that its cancer assessments are not to be used for “regulatory” (protection of the public) purposes. ( vol82/index.php.)
    Nor has styrene been classified as a known carcinogen by any authoritative body in the world.

  9. Priscilla Says:

    Priscilla Briones for the Styrene Information and Research Center (SIRC), Arlington, Virginia.

  10. Hi Priscilla – Thank you for pointing out that according to the IARC’s studies the overall evaluation concluded that Styrene is a possible carcinogen in humans (2B). I will add the word “possible” to my post. I find it interesting that the CDC – a trusted U.S. public health agency has on their website under ATSDR (The Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry) a section titled “How Can Families Reduce the Risk of Exposure to Styrene?” I appreciate that you work for the Styrene Information and Research Centre so we are approaching this topic from different places. For me though, anything mentioned in context with “toxic substances” and “possible” carcinogen to humans is good enough reason to try my best to avoid…when possible. No matter what, reducing our waste through simple initiatives like this will have positive benefits all round.

  11. I was struck by how eco-conscious the next generation is. Every time we order Thai, there are those little packets of soy sauce with it. We never use it. My daughter says to me last time: “We should ask them not to include these from now on. We don’t want to be wasteful.” Huh. It honestly hadn’t occurred to me in all these years to ask them not to include them!

  12. That is wonderful your daughter is so eco- minded and speaks up about it. Pretty darn cool. 🙂

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