Bring tupperware / reusable containers to restaurants and fast food lunch places

First published on April 4, 2007

I didn’t want to make the post title too long… but really it’s best to bring reusable containers to all food places. Consider the waste of a styrofoam plate, styrofoam container or any other disposable container for that matter. It’s most sickening when I go to a food court at lunch time. Sure, it’s easy to say “that’s the way it is” and “I have no choice” (I’ve been saying it all my life). Well, you do have a choice. We all do. And please don’t say that it’s not cool to bring a container.

If you are going to be taking food with you (take-out food or leftovers) you can bring your own container and put the food in there. So add that to your list of things you can do to contribute to sustaining the planet.

And now for a nice food review to make the environmental post more interesting…

Today I went to Trees Organic, a nice little coffee shop, to find out whether their cheesecake really is “the best in Vancouver” — as they claim with a big sign on the window. Trees Organic is at Granville and Hastings in Vancouver, BC (450 Granville Street, to be exact) for anyone who wants to test this claim themselves.

Luckily I stopped eating long enough to take a picture of the cheesecake
Photo taken by Kristian

I gave them my tupperware container and they were happy to put the raspberry cheesecake slice in there. As you can see above, I forced myself to stop halfway through to document this occasion. The cheesecake was rich and delicious. It certainly ranks as one of the best cheesecakes I’ve tried. It isn’t cheap — at $6.35 after tax it costs about the same as a few homemade sandwiches. But it gets bonus points for being a relatively environmentally-friendly indulgence and hey, it’s not like eating cheesecake ought to be a regular occasion for anybody!

When I got home, I washed the tupperware container as I normally would have, since it had previously contained my lunch.

April 5th update
Today I went to the Pita Express in the Waterfront Centre Food Court (Vancouver) and brought my own plate and fork. Yes, it is nerdy to walk with a plate on the street, but I asked them to put my order on my plate and they did so with a smile. Plus, my food (their chicken pita with caesar salad special) tasted good.


15 Responses to “Bring tupperware / reusable containers to restaurants and fast food lunch places”

  1. Leah says:

    You should really have posted your review on my website…do it, do it!

  2. Thom says:

    Previous to the cheesecake?

  3. Julia says:

    Very useful hint! I might also add this is a good technique for travelers on a budget, as you often get large portions that can double for lunch the next day!

  4. Holly says:

    HOORAY! I tell my customers to do this plus, take your containers to the deli to put your cold cuts and cheeses right into your Tupperware instead of the plastic bag they give you.
    Tupperware now sells a line of collapsable containers that are easy to tote around as they are the size of the seal. When you need the dish, they expand from 1 cup to 3 cups as needed. They are also available in a 4 cup and 8 cup size.

  5. Maria says:

    I wonder if this concept is gaining ground… I've been obsessing about it lately, along with my longtime obsession with grocery bags (I avoid them quite successfully). I've been searching the web for some kind of great collapsible container to keep in my tote for restaurant leftovers, and will check out the Tupperware– it hadn't occurred to me that a corporate entity like that would have something I'd want to use! I'd been looking at "Green" sites, and camping supply stores. I'd also really like to find a mug of some kind which I could keep in my bag– perhaps a silicone one, like those collapsible measuring cups which are suddenly around, or the collapsible mixing bowls. I'm so sick of seeing trash cans overflowing with paper coffee cups (not to mention the styro ones) that I've decided never again to get any beverage in such a cup. It's a drag (literally) to bring a mug along, though, as anything sturdy enough to last in your bag will be heavy and bulky. I want a collapsible 12 oz mug!

  6. Bill says:

    Before long I suspect just as they are going to do in Seattle with re-usable shopping bags… their next step will be to tax take out containers from your local restaurants and coffee places.

    Better start bringing your own if you don’t want to pay the taxes.

  7. Cathy says:

    PK, I’m impressed. I checked out ur page for a glimpse of what’s the latest and greatest but did not find any crap. I was not yet at this stage when I left Van…I was using foil instead of styrofoam…but collapsible tupperware is very cool. Keep working for greenery :) And give me an update k?

  8. Drew says:

    Do you ever have people refuse to fill your container? I live in the Los Angeles area and I’ve been denied based on health code claims.

  9. Peter says:

    I’ve never been refused here in Vancouver but it might just be a matter of time…

  10. Ana says:

    OMG I’ve been obsessing about this very topic myself! Although I still haven’t gathered enough guts to actually bring my own container and ask my to-go meals to be put in them. But this blog is inspiring me! I wonder what would happen if you tried to do that at an establishment such as McDonald’s? lol

    I’m actually writing an assignment for school on styrofoam use in the restaurant industry and have found quite a few blogs and such venting on this issue.

    I’ve also been wondering about the health code aspect. I know at Tim Horton’s if you ask for a refill in a ceramic mug, they give it to you in a new clean mug instead of just pouring it into the one you’ve already used for your first cup of Joe. Health code, they claim. I think it’s ubsurd.

    Thanks for inspiring me Peter! I will definitely share my experience once I get the guts to say no to styrofoam the next time I get it to go!

  11. Dan says:


    I feel the same way. I found a collapsible mug this year that is amazing!! I did my research and this seems like the best thing on the market… at least last time i checked:

    the order i got (from one of their ‘where to buy’ sites) came with two mugs for 10 or 15 bucks. I’m really happy with them!!! And they always get cool looks from people in the restaurant/cafe.

    Best of luck!

  12. April says:

    You all are very inspiring! I just found out last night from my director at Tupperware that by Ca state law they are required to let you use your own containers for your leftovers. They or you must fill the containers in "front of house" rather then take them back to the kitchen however. I was doing research to find the laws code when I came across all your comments!

    You are all inspirational! PS Flatouts are great for this!!

  13. Katie says:

    Hey, I actually tried this on my college campus and was turned down by the servers saying "it’s against federal law." I was shocked!! I’m still looking into it, but apparently it’s a policy (maybe it’s only on college campuses) that you can’t hand them your tupperware (ceramic bowl in my case) and have them fill it due to ‘contamination’?? or something like that…

  14. CrockPotLady says:

    Good luck with bringing your own container. Most Fast Food places have various sizes of disposable that act as portion or size control.

    Some of the nit wits wouldn’t know how many fries to put in your container or what to charge for them

  15. Liz says:

    I hope its not "against federal law" I’ve not got a clue. I’ve been meaning to do this when I ask for takeout at fast foods, but I’ve felt to embarrassed thus far. >:( Im gonna e-mail most fast foods see if its plausible and then do it. Otherwise ill stop eating out. I hate making so much garbage

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