Taking-Out Waste From Restaurant Leftovers

Photo by Flickr/gabrielsaldana

By WFAE’s Mike Andrews

Update: Remember when Leftover Love was just an idea?  Well Charlotte White’s plan to reduce the use of Styrofoam containers has caught on in Plaza-Midwood.  Beginning on Earth Day, (Sunday, April 22) Kickstand Burgers-n-Bar, Loco Lime, and Hawthorne’s NY Pizza & Bar will give you 5% off your bill if you bring your own container for leftovers.  It’s not surprising to see this take shape in one of Charlotte’s more environmentally-conscious neighborhoods, so maybe this is the beginning of something bigger.

When I go out to eat, I want to get my money’s worth.  I avoid smaller entreés and calorie-counting meals because I know that I’ll want those leftovers the next day.  So when Charlotte White contacted us with a proposal of a program called Leftover Love, I knew it would be right up my alley.

Make no mistake – Leftover Love isn’t about what’s in the box – it’s about the box itself.  “The problem that the Leftover Love initiative is trying to address is the use of outdated materials, such as Styrofoam, for take home containers in restaurants,” says Charlotte.  “Speaking from a strict business sense, the reasons should be obvious as to why one would want to solve this issue: the solution costs nothing and the solution also adds a savings.”

The savings?  Penny-pinching patrons (like myself) would get a percentage off their bill when they bring in their own container for the leftovers.  This would reduce the restaurant’s use of Styrofoam and keep disposable containers out of the trash.

The idea might not be novel, but that means it’s already caught on in certain places in America.  Charlotte told me about the restaurant in California that gave her the idea: “it was a small local Indian cuisine place that did it.  Even though we only saved like five bucks, it struck me as something that could work everywhere.”

“This really seems too easy to me,” said Charlotte.  “Honestly, it doesn’t matter if it’s Styrofoam, cardboard, or tinfoil.  If we can reduce the use of any materials, everyone wins.”

Even though there are many restaurants in town that use paper or recyclable plastic take-home containers, this initiative could not only lighten your trash bag, but also promote business around Charlotte.  Taking the family out for dinner could be more common during the week if it was cheaper and guaranteed leftovers for the next day.

So far there aren’t any restaurants in Charlotte that have adopted this initiative, but Charlotte White is hoping that it will eventually catch on.

Considering the fact that this is in-the-making, what do you think would make it better?  Would you consider bringing your container from home?  What if there was a different incentive?  Let us know!

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8 Comments

Filed under Quirky, Restaurants

8 responses to “Taking-Out Waste From Restaurant Leftovers

  1. Caroline

    I LOVE this idea! If we have our own reusable shopping bags then why not our own take home containers! I hope this takes off!

  2. Ellie

    Great idea – already too much junk in our landfills. From now on I’ll try to make sure I always carry my own box to bring home my leftovers.

  3. Isabella

    I’ve thought of doing this but thought it was illegal due to liability issues with food poisoning (ie. your container from home is contaminated and the restaurant is implicated). It would be GREAT if restaurants agreed to this.

  4. David

    My wife has been doing this for about two years. We always keep a clean empty container in the car just in case we end up going out. We do get odd looks from the wait staff when we tell them we don’t need a container because we brought our own. They usually tell us that it’s no problem if we use one of theirs. We refuse and then spend several minutes explaining why. But to get a little off of the bill for something we already do would be great!

  5. Greg F

    When I go to fast-food restaurants, I usually bring a reusable cloth bag. If it’s something that I can carry in there (something that they wrap up), I ask them for it to “dine-in”. Then, I take it off the tray and put it in my bag. The employees usually say, “Oh, were you taking that to go? I can get you a bag”, and then I explain to them that I don’t need a bag, and a bunch of napkins, and 15 packs of ketchup that will sit in my drawer until it’s dried up enough that I end up throwing it out. I ask for it to “dine-in” because it takes too long to explain that I’m taking it to go, but I don’t need all of the “amenities”. I think more people would come over to my way of thinking if they were provided incentive to decrease waste. Heck, only one grocery store in town (props to Bi-Lo) even gives you a $.05 per bag discount when you bring your own shopping bag…why don’t more grocery stores provide that?

  6. All this support already makes me feel more confident in this effort whether restaurants jump on board or not.

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