Keep Utensils and Reusable Containers for Restaurant Leftovers in the Car

Andrea Lewis - April 21, 2023

eating utensils and containers for restaurant leftovers

We were frustrated each time we ate at a restaurant. Often we ended up taking home plastic utensils and plastic containers for leftovers, and felt bad as we used these just once and tossed them away. What a waste. We also discovered that putting them in the recycling was pointless, because they either wouldn't be recycled or couldn't be recycled, and even if they were recycled could only be recycled twice due to the properties of plastic. It was time for a plan, similar to how many of us bring reusable bags to the grocery store.

Reusable Containers for Leftovers in the Car

First we purchased stainless steel containers for leftovers and put them in the trunk of our car. In the beginning we would forget to bring them into the restaurant and we would have to go out to the car to get them. We rarely forget now, and we are happy every time we use these containers. We also have fun showing people who work in the restaurant that we brought our own containers. They always like that.

At a certain point we recognized another advantage of bringing our own containers for leftovers into restaurants: avoidance of plastic. When you bring your own stainless steel container, you not only avoid the health issues of your food being in contact with plastic, but you reduce the use of plastic in general. If everyone began bringing their own containers into restaurants the same way so many of us now bring our own grocery bags to the grocery store, the number of plastic containers for leftovers would be sharply reduced.

Sturdy Sporks Instead of Plastic Utensils

Next we focused on restaurants that provide only plastic utensils. After some research, we discovered sporks. These are handy utensils that have a fork at one end and a spoon on the other end. There is also a small serrated edge that functions like a knife. We now carry these in our backpacks for travel and put them in the car for takeout. The sporks we use are made of either titanium or stainless steel, so once again we are avoiding plastic, and avoiding the issue of our food coming into contact with plastic. If you don't like sporks, you can always carry a set of regular stainless steel utensils, either from your kitchen stock, from a thrift store or purchased separately with a carrying pouch. There are wonderful sets of these available online at a low price.

Building the Habit

One of the tricks of all this is proactively telling the restaurant you don't need utensils. You have to tell them this when you order, and then anticipate their giving the utensils to you anyway out of habit. You then have to check the order, and hand the utensils back to them before you leave. This is a bit of a pain for both parties, but just part of the process of building the habit, and raising awareness for the restaurant as well.

No Straws, Please

While you're at it, request that they not give you straws. You will forget at least half the time in the beginning, but when you get truly tired of bringing all that plastic pollution home, you will remember.

It makes us happy and proud each time we do this, helping to solve the problem of plastic pollution, and making the world a little bit better.

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