Would you pay $3 to help make a difference?

Day 271 – The folks at Baker Miller Bakery & Millhouse (4655 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago) sure hope people will consider $3 a small price to pay to help save the planet. For many of us, including myself, the pandemic has opened our eyes to how much waste and more specifically plastic waste is created. Baker Miller decided to start using reusable takeout containers to address the problem. The steps needed to be part of this environmentally friendly takeout experience are quite easy.

  1. When placing an order at Baker Miller, be sure to choose the returnable container option.
  2. You will be charged $3 for the container.
  3. Next time you’re in Baker Miller, drop off the container. It will be cleaned and used again.
  4. On your next order, you can either receive your $3 back on more food or put it toward another reusable container.

The hope is that more restaurants get on board with the reusable containers. If there’s more involvement than more drop off locations can be created for the reusable containers. New York City and Portland, Oregon have shown it’s a business plan that can work.

We all need to support businesses that are making an effort to help the planet. Thank you Baker Miller for your help in making a difference.

Tomorrow, sustainable pet products.

Reusable Takeout Containers

Day 211 – The number of plastic takeout containers we collect at the monthly Northcenter Neighborhood Association Recycle Popup is significant. When I think about the number of plastic and polystyrene disposable takeout containers used day in and day out, across the city, the state, throughout the country, and around the planet, it makes my head hurt. There is a solution to this problem and people are beginning to take action.

In New York, the restaurant DIG (691 Broadway in Manhattan), has started a program called Canteen. Those who enroll in the program will install a smartphone app, Canteen by Dig, and consent to a fee of $3 a month for the service. In return, they’ll be able to take their lunch with them in a hard-shelled, reusable bowl made from black melamine, complete with a white plastic lid. 

Here’s how it works:

  1. Create your account to start using Canteen by Dig. A membership costs $3 per month and allows you to check out one bowl at a time.
  2. Enter the four digit location code and click “Use Canteen Bowl”. Show the Good to Go screen when you place your order to have it packaged in a Canteen Bowl.
  3. By using Canteen by Dig reusable bowls, you’re saving resources, energy, greenhouse gas emissions and single use trash from landfills.
  4. Return the bowl to a participating Dig location. Find the Canteen Bowl Return sign, Open your app, click on the “Return Your Canteen” and scan the QR code on the sign to check the bowl in. Leave the bowl in the designated return container.
  5. There is no limit to the number of times you can check out and return a Canteen Bowl each month, so reuse often.

Before there was Dig, there was Go Box. Go Box started offering reusable takeout containers at food carts in 2015. The program has expanded to include 110 restaurants and food vendors across Portland, Oregon. Consumers purchase monthly subscriptions, which start at $3.95 per month and show a QR code to participating food vendors to have their to-go orders packed in reusable containers. The used containers are deposited in drop boxes at restaurants and participating partners such as bike shops and banks; Go Box washes and sterilizes the reusable container before restocking with vendors.

Companies like RePlated are making reusable food containers for people who want to enjoy takeout, without feeling bad about waste. The containers are designed and made In Australia from recycled plastic. Each lunchbox saves eight soft drink bottles from landfill. RePlated helps businesses build flexible systems to make single-use plastic containers a thing of the past.

More and more companies are popping up to offer this service and it is one we desperately need. We can only hope that reusable takeout containers are not something we have to seek out, but will be part of our everyday takeout experience.

Tomorrow, a look back on Plastic Free July.