Food to go seems to work quite well with the modern busy lifestyle we live in: it is quick, convenient, usually affordable, it resolves our “I am starving” problem and it lets us move on to more important matters.

The problem is of course all the waste that’s generated in the process, because this food usually comes in disposable containers, mainly plastic. Today I want to explore some ideas and options to get take-away differently.

Do I really need to buy take-way?

So you are very busy at work, need to grab a bite but of course you don’t have the time to sit and enjoy your meal, you have to rush back to the office, have your lunch in front of the computer and finish that important task.

This scenario is not that unusual for many people and I get it, I have been there, work happens. But we are not under the pump every single day; it doesn’t really take that long to sit in a cafe/restaurant and have a quick lunch, we need perhaps 15 – 20 minutes.

When I don’t bring my home-made lunch, I see this break as a great opportunity to leave the office, to disconnect a bit from work, to go for a walk, to distract my mind with other matters.

There is this guy at work that almost every single day buys take-away and comes back to the office to read the news during the lunch break. Nothing wrong with that, but usually his lunch comes in a plastic container with plastic cutlery, all wrapped in a plastic bag.

Imagine this routine every week for years, the waste generated is staggering and this is only one person, multiply that by millions of people!

Bring your own container

The best way to prevent all that waste is simply bringing your own container to the restaurant and ask them to use it for your takeaway food. It may sound a bit unusual, but this trend is growing by the day.

Are the restaurants happy to use your containers? Well, there is not a straight forward answer here. Some are very accommodating and open, some will reject your request.

I’ll be honest, we usually prefer to go to places that we already know accept BYO container because is easier and faster. However, we have tried this option in new places and so far we haven’t had a negative response. They usually look a bit confused, but after a brief explanation they just proceed and serve the food.

Take-away reusable container

Take-away reusable container

In the past, I have written about how sometimes it is hard to be different. People often give you a weird look when they see you doing things they are not familiar with and that’s something I have been getting used to in this journey.

For me, bringing my own container to a place I haven’t been before usually requires stepping out of my comfort zone, but that’s ok, it is part of the experience. I always remind myself that the worst that can happen is they say: no.

Three options to consider in Australia

Trashless Takeaway

This initiative helps you find restaurants/cafes that are happy to use your reusable container. Simply use the map, enter your postcode and see what’s available near you. If you use the filter, you can also find bulk wholefoods, butchers, delicatessen, alcohol refills and more.

The great thing is that users can add businesses, it takes 2 minutes to register a place in this website.

I really love this website because it makes my life easier; I know in these places, I don’t have to give any explanation, I just show them my container and everything flows as per usual.

They recently started using stickers to identify business that are part of this initiative, so if you see a logo like this one, you know you can BYO container.

Trashless takeaway

Trashless takeaway


The Returnr

This initiative aims to replace disposable take away packaging by a reusable alternative in participating restaurants. So instead of plastic they give you the option to use this reusable stainless steel container.



All you have to do is request it when you order the food and pay $5 deposit. When you bring the container back, they return the money in cash or to your card.

I have used it several times near my job, it is a simple process. At this stage there are not many participating businesses but I hope it grows.



This is similar concept but you bring a standard container which this company sells. Because the container is always the same, some business also offer a re-swap, which means you bring your container and swap it for another one with the food.

They also offer a map where you can find the participating vendors.

I have never tried this option as I don’t own a retub container yet, but I like the concept too. You can read the FAQ here.


“I feel more confident than ever that the power to save the planet rests with the individual consumer.” – Denis Hayes

If you don’t live in Australia, please try BYO container, be adventurous and give it a go. Even if the restaurant say no, if you explain why your doing it, you are sending a clear message. Also try searching for initiatives like these ones I mentioned above, perhaps there are some options for you to try.

That’s it for today.  Please let me know in the comments below. Did you know about these options? Have you tried them before? Is there any other option you know? Please share this info so more people know there are alternatives to try.

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Thanks for reading,