Takeout creates a lot of trash. It doesn’t have to.
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Takeout creates a lot of trash. It doesn’t have to.


Who doesn’t love takeout food? It’s convenient. Easy. Most of the time, it’s delicious. But with every order, there’s just a lot
of stuff that comes with the meal. Look, here’s what I got when I ordered Thai. This is from my breakfast this morning. And this is all the stuff you get with one
of those meal delivery kits. Some of it, you can recycle. Some of it, it’s compostable. But a lot of it…well, I really don’t know. And all this waste — it isn’t just a problem
that we can solve with recycling alone. These little containers and wrappers may not
seem like a big deal, but in the U.S., packaging makes up the largest category of municipal
waste. On top of that, single-use items make up another
10 percent of all our discards. And this kind of mindless consumption has a really
big impact on climate change. Roughly 29 percent of our nation’s greenhouse
gas emissions come from the way we make, consume, and dispose of stuff. That’s more than the emissions that come
from heating our homes or driving around in our cars. It takes a lot of energy and resources to
produce single use items — these things we use only for a few minutes or even a few
seconds before they become trash. And when single-use items go into a landfill,
all that paper and plastic is destroyed — and so we have to go out there and extract new raw materials to replace it. We really need to prioritize reduce and reuse
over recycling. Recycling is great to deal with the product
once it’s already in your hand. You’ve got to make a good decision on where
it goes, but waste minimization is more important. This is Anne Krieghoff — she’s the recycling
manager at the University of California, Irvine. Her goal is to get the campus to zero waste. And there’s some super simple ways that
we can reduce a lot of this single-use trash. Look, have you ever ordered a burger and fries
and inside the bag there are like, a thousand packets of ketchup that you really aren’t
going to use? They may look innocent, but there’s really
no way to recycle them. So, one of the easiest ways to eliminate this
trash is to serve condiments in bulk. Remember the way you used to get a hot dog
at the baseball game, you’d go up to the pump and get your ketchup and your mustard. That is the best way. Think how much you could save with one bulk
ketchup dispenser. Or bulk sugar at the coffee shop. Another way to reduce trash is to just stop
overpackaging things. Here’s a classic example. This is how I got my lunch today. So it’s a plastic bag and inside it is a
paper bag. I mean, what’s the purpose of this? You know, maybe I could have actually just
carried this out without a bag. Or simply put it in my backpack. It would be great if companies started saying,
“We’re not serving the plastic bag unless you ask for it.” Don’t offer it — just wait if somebody
needs that. And that’s really the key. See, a lot of useless trash is created because
companies just kind of hand it to us, assuming that we want it. But a lot of times we don’t. This is something that Seamless and Grubhub,
the food delivery apps, are trying to take on. When you place an order on their website,
they give you the option to skip the utensils and napkins, which you probably don’t need
if they’re actually coming to your home or to your office. In 2013 alone, Seamless reported that they
saved more than a million sets of plastic utensils and napkins — all with a simple
check box. Just having the option to say no makes it
way easier for customers to reduce their trash. And saving those forks and napkins helps restaurants
as well, since ultimately they’re the ones who are paying for them So if step one is reduce, or stop giving people
stuff they don’t need, then step two is reuse. Let’s make it easier for people to switch
to reusable stuff. UC Merced have made the switch to reusable
takeout containers in their dining hall. Reusable is always the way to go, if you think
about it, if you’re reusing this container and you’re getting more uses out of it, although
the cost upfront is larger, in the long run you’re saving a lot of money. Julie Sagusay is the Food Services Manager
and each year, about a third of the meals served at the dining hall are to-go meals. That adds up to about 350,000 single-use containers
that they avoid using every year. When you want a meal to-go, you check out
the container with your student card, like you would a library book — and then when
you’re done, you return it to one of these eight machines around campus. A lot of universities and a few hospitals
have introduced reusable container systems like this. There’s even a company in Portland called
GO Box that works with local restaurants to offer a reusable option for takeout food. And it isn’t just food containers. Reusable water bottles are one of the easiest
ways to cut down on to-go trash. Around the world, people buy a million plastic
bottles each minute and most of them will end up in a landfill or the ocean. It’s so much smarter to just have one bottle. It’s really important that we get away from thinking
of anything as a single-use. From 1987 to 2014, the amount of bottled water
that Americans drink has quadrupled. So we drink more bottled water than milk or
even beer. And during this time, the classic water fountain
we all know and love has pretty much fallen out of favor. That’s partly because people are concerned
about water safety not to mention hygiene, right? Concerns that Anne Perkins here has. Kiss one water fountain drinker and you’re
kissing everyone in Pawnee. Including him. But recently, that drinking fountain — well
it’s got a bit of a facelift. Water bottle filling stations have been popping
up, making it easier to get free, filtered water when you’re on the go. UC Irvine installed 160 of these on campus
and it’s made a big difference. Each year, the campus avoids using roughly
3 million plastic bottles. Our disposable water bottle sales have dropped
over 30% in the last couple of years just by people bring their own water bottle. How can we change our processes little by
little by little each year until they become the way we do things? It isn’t done by just dealing with the trash
at the end. It really is about changing culture. Today, UC Irvine is diverting 80 percent of
their waste from landfills by focusing on reuse, composting, and recycling. Zero waste is a possibility. It’s just never quitting. And cities across the country are trying to
reach that goal too. Achieving zero waste means building more robust
recycling and composting programs. But it also means rethinking all the stuff
in our lives. How do companies package the things they sell us? Can they use a materials that are easier
to recycle? How do we make it easier for people to switch
to reusables? So really take a look at what you’re throwing
away at the end of a meal and pick one thing. Maybe it’s saying no to bags or maybe it’s
carrying around a reusable bottle. It may seem like a trivially small thing,
but it is part of a larger cultural shift. Every plastic cup or plastic straw that doesn’t
need to be made, every tree that doesn’t need to be cut down — all of it helps us
reduce global warming. There’s a lot simple ways to reduce your
trash. Watch my interview with Lauren Singer who
can fit four years worth of trash, no kidding, into a single jar. And check out climate.universityofcalifornia.edu
for other global warming solutions.

100 Comments

  • apple aqua

    Please ask to have your coffee in mugs and sit down and enjoy your coffees rather than always having them to go in paper cups. I own a coffee shop and 90% of my silly customers who sit in always prefer paper cups. Why!!! They just get thrown away after 10 minutes! Please think of the environment first!

  • selenagomez4ever813

    From experience, the majority of customers don't click the Seamless button for sparing utensils even when delivered to their apartment. Also, the packaging is sometimes to prevent the food from being squished or getting cold while being delivered… and having customers complain.

  • camalama21

    I love recycling and saving the earth but one thing I'm guilty of is buying water bottles. The water at my job makes my stomach hurt, I don't think they filter it properly and one day it was brown with particles floating in it, so I stopped with that. At home, we've gotten pamphlets that the water has higher than normal amounts of led. We bought a filter but I just don't like the way the water tastes. It tastes very strange 🙁 Makes me sad because I bought a beautiful reusable glass water bottle that just sits collecting dust and I feel terrible purchasing plastic water bottles so often.

  • Fikret Abdinov

    There is really not so much facilities for recycle. Take a look at Sweden, they have all facilities for it and therefore people are coworking with the system. Before telling people what to do, please try to install everything they need to do it. There is clearly no bin in our local park.

  • Olivia Waggoner

    Delivery in South Korea is actual plates and bowls that are picked up about an hour after the original delivery, that would be cool to do in the US.

  • Jia Wei Chew

    I used the exact same bottle from the vending machine for my water for over half a year. That saves me up to 3 bottles of water a day.

  • CSERA Studio

    Wouldn't it be great if you could go to the supermarket and empty all of the items you wanted to buy out of their packaging and say to the staff "you deal with it"

  • Jasper Kraaijeveld

    In the Netherlands businesses have to charge like 10c for plastic bags and because of that the use of plastic bags is dramaticly reduced.

  • moodini99

    Nah. I like single-use plastics. Not concerned about the environment. Don't want to ruin the environment? Don't reproduce. Simple.

  • I'm watching you sleep

    A nuke in every single third world country and California, then we don't have to think about this again.

  • delicatexdaisies

    i come from singapore where they're trying to be more eco-friendly yet they aren't doing anything about it. and the people here aren't really educated about recycling as much as they should be. and because of that, i make unnecessary wastage as well.

  • Platonic Game Studio

    I am glad my local government starting to banned straws, plastic fork, spoon, any plastic packaging for food and plastic bag.
    only allow cloth or paper bag, paper cups and paper food packaging.

    but sadly In Indonesia, only Bali who do this at this time (as far as i know), I really hoping other area starting to follow Bali.

  • Caseko CSK

    I work in retail… a small shop… sometimes (I mean MOST of the time), customer buy a small cheap stuff… and they want a plastic bag to carry it even though they can just tuck it neatly in their pocket…
    Note: Unfortunately paper bag is still not common here and I don't have a smaller plastic bag.

  • Jess Wakka

    My university has recycling bins all over the place but over 90% of it goes to the trash anyway because the accepted items for recycling are so strict, so the bags usually end up being contaminated with something non-recyclable, and they throw the whole bag away 🙁

  • Andrew Sowers

    Just because I check the no utensils box does not mean the restaurant listens. They usually still send them because they likely don't want to have to think about it, which is sad.

  • B vegan Now

    Convince gov to let everyone have an acre of free tax free land to grow a food forest on and live on.
    End farm subsidies. End tax
    breaks to farms exsept those who grow healthy vegan food for human consumption exsept no large mono crops.

    End mandatory school, ged and hsd requirements, age limits, minimum wage, and exsessive regs.
    People should be able to learn how to do a good job they want so they can afford a house and car before 18.
    For those who and whos parents can afford it, tax deductible chairty and or the about 180,000dollars spent on k thru 12 per student could pay for it and trash k thru 12 and some of that money could be used to promote more independence and healthy living.

  • B vegan Now

    Watch earthlings the movie its free on YouTube. Watch cowspiracy. Animal ag is a leading cause of pollution and env damage.
    Put water bottle fill up stations at fast food drive thrus.
    Plant food forests all over.

  • MOMO COCO

    In Korea they bring ur food in bowls when u order black bean noodles and when ur done u leave it outside ur door and the delivery guy picks it up

  • NIGGERB0ND

    You can have the inconvenience of carrying multiple things with just your hands. I'll just be able to operate my phone and be productive while sticking with my plastic bag, thank you.

  • Alexa S

    Philadelphia has sunscreen dispensers around city parks in order to increase the amount of people wearing SPF and to decrease the amount of waste created from sunscreen packaging

  • TheAGcollector101

    I hate getting giant bags when I get food, I never order enough food for it to be a necessity. It's a hassle for me to get rid of and it hurts the environment.

  • Isabella Cosby

    2:33 I live in Oklahoma and we already do this unless they obviously see that you are buying a lot of stuff at (just might be the stores I go to in my small town though)

  • Animals Unleashed

    At my high school we got bottles filling machine and it says how much water bottles was saved, it’s a 30 000 last time I checked and we only had it since Christmas

  • With A Dash Of Bran

    I can't believe nobody noticed the sacreligeousness going at 2:04….

    They frickin put KETCHUP on chips!!!!

  • betül ceyhan

    You have to buy the plastic bags if you want one when you are shopping in Turkey also colleges almost never use single-use stuff. The trash problem exists mostly in fast food restaurants 👀👀👀

  • A way to success and a way to get out

    With all the turkish Kebap-shops in Vienna that have popped up in the last years reducing waste is not really getting easier. And the worst is that the owners and workers there dont care about the envirenment. Sad smiley for the green country Austria.

  • Melissa Nicola

    In Ireland you can rent school books and at the end of the year u give them back or reuse them for another 3 years

  • Bunny King

    well sure they might cut costs, but how will that impact their market share against other companies that do offer more packaging/ service?

  • Homelessdudeinapeacoat

    I have the same thought, why are they giving me a bag for my bag for my box of food with aluminum and wax paper. YEAH I throw it all in the bin what am I supposed to do with it in the middle of downtown during lunch hour. He showed us a problem and I realized we are F***ED! Our problem seems to be embedded into our lifestyle. We need a big scary change and I'm all about it.

  • Janos

    The other day i ordered burritos for delivery and it came in a paper bag and the burritos were in a plastic container with aluminium foil wrapped around them.

    I guess the restaurant had to comply to a bigger company's packaging standards, but still I have never got that much waste along with so little food.

  • Melanie Clark

    When I go shopping, I take my own shopping bags with me. I usually need to tell the cashier what the things in my hands are. Then sometimes they still mindlessly start placing my purchases in plastic bags.

  • V Vanilla

    when you have too much anxiety to order takeout, so you don't even bother😂 i guess, that's one way of saving the planet.

  • Putri Meme05

    I started to use no plastic bag since last month….n its great….we can afford it…buy a single clothing bag n u can use it again n again until forever.
    N now i started to compost my leftover food….i know its a small step…but better late than do nothing

  • Sengkeong Lee

    excuse me, the restaurant do not pay the plastic, consumers do. Therefore, restaurants are earning even more when consumer check that no plastic box

  • Ervin Fowlkes

    I wonder what the difference would be if the food delivery service companies asked you to OPT-IN to receiving spare cutlery instead of opting out. So by default you don't get them.

  • myYT Acc

    ♻️instead of buying fast food with paper bags and waste try bringing a Tupperware and ask them to put the food in the Tupperware instead.

  • Garrett Sakomizu

    In Asian households, we don't have condiment bottles. We use them so infrequently that ketchup packets suffice. lol

  • G9 Ranjiplays

    in Norway you can turn the plastic bottles in a store, And youll get some of your money back and you recycled it

  • Ani Chen

    Keep telling ppl to RRR is so inefficient; not everyone will follow it even though they are fully conscious of it. I would say some regulation and laws would be necessary. Banning plastics for restaurants would make it harder for them to make business. They can save more money on plastic packaging if we eat more inside restaurant instead of takeout. We need alternative material or else we need to switch back to paper. I remember in early 2000s we use paper more but because we are cutting down a lot of trees, I slowly notice our packaging are more plastic. I think it had made the problem even worse. For example even if I bring and use steel bottle, utencils and silicone cups everywhere with me, there are places where I can't even avoid plastic packaging. We need to change the way we package our products.

  • andreas s

    if you don’t like lugging around reusable cups/mugs/containers, there are plenty of collapsible options available! you can often find them at shops that sell camping supplies like MEC, & online if you can’t find any around you. i’m trying to find a collapsible coffee mug so i can just chuck it in my bag without it taking up much space in case i find myself wanting to buy a drink while i’m out.

  • Bharath kumar

    Manufacturing of use and through plastic things should be reduced. Manufacturers should be restricted about limitless production.

  • Harsh Sawant

    In India, last year our government passed a bill for banning plastics. It was quite good tbh. All the shopkeepers and major malls in country started handing out paper bags or cloth bags(customers are charged for that too). So people basically bought their own bags to shopping or eateries. Biodegradable material is mostly used and plastic consumption reduced a lot. Feels good man!

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