Reduce Waste When Eating Out

Wrappers, cups, lids, straws: 50 percent of the litter on our streets is from fast food. This waste makes its way into storm drains and eventually into the ocean. In fact, in the central North Pacific Ocean, there is an area of trash called the Pacific trash vortex. Also labeled the Great Pacific garbage patch, it extends as wide as the state of Texas.

Being aware of what you take and what you throw away is the first step in recognizing how much trash is generated when we take-out food.

Here are some ways you can reduce waste when you get food to go:

  • Skip the straw. Get your beverage, but drink directly from the cup. The plastic straw is one of the top 10 litter items found during International Coastal Cleanup Day. More than 5,000 straws are picked up annually at area beaches.
  • Bag the bag. If your burger, fries or other items are already wrapped, just take the food without using yet another piece of paper that will quickly be thrown away. It is estimated that 300 pounds of waste per person each year is from just fast food packaging.
  • Wipe up with one. You often see a note near restaurant dispensers to take only as many napkins as you need. Limit your napkins and you limit the amount of trash.
  • Remember to recycle. Cups, napkins, wrappers and even some containers can be recycled. If you don’t see recycling containers at your favorite restaurant, consider asking them to start a pilot program to recycle clean materials.
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