When going out for lunch or dinner, it is often an option to take the leftovers home for yourself or your favorite pet if you can’t eat all of your meal. In my case, it is usually my dog, since the office cat can’t seem to keep his food down. From a sustainable standpoint, paper wrapping for the “takeaways” is the best option. It can be recycled if it’s not stained by food, or if it needs to go to the landfill it will break down in 2-5 months’ time. This is much better than leaving it for some small, ocean bottom-feeder to live on, affecting the food chain after the toxic chemicals are absorbed by its natural predators.
Strangely, most restaurants give us plastic containers inside a plastic bag as our take-out container option. We need a plastic bag to carry our plastic container home? Isn’t it possible that this plastic bag will somehow get caught in a tree branch? Will the container become an artificial reef? Or, maybe they just go into our landfills and sit there for 500 years? Of course, we can put them in a recycling can and place them on the street, so our garbage trucks can pick them up to go to the recycling center; but how much plastic really gets recycled each year? Is this just about the consumer feeling better — taking their leftover food home in a fancy, plastic container? Recycling is great when it comes to using less raw materials to make new things. But what really happens to the plastic?