Monday, 31 August 2009

Evil Take-out

This first hint of badness was when Bron got into the car carrying a plastic bag.

‘I asked her not to put it in a plastic one,’ he said. ‘But she said she really had to because the paper one wouldn’t hold it.’ I looked at what he was handing me: a bog standard, weak white carrier bag, inside of which was a classic, brown paper bag. Inside the paper bag was our food.

Other than fish and chips, the last time we had takeaway was when we moved to our current abode last October, so it’s not exactly a common occurrence in our household. But a couple of weeks ago, we were driving back from a visit to Totnes, it was late and we were tired and hungry and really didn’t want to cook, so we decided to treat ourselves. Indian won the coin toss. Stupidly, I didn’t even think about what our food was going to come in when I made this decision.

Why bother using a paper bag at all if you’re going to insist on putting that inside a plastic bag afterwards? That’s already twice as much out packaging than is necessary.

The worst shock came when I looked inside the paper bag, though. I had completely forgotten that Indian takeaway comes in plastic containers.

‘I know,’ Bron said. ‘But you can re-use them’. Which is true, and we are, but it’s left me wondering. How many people out there have takeaway like this on a regular basis? For starters, that’s a whole lot of plastic boxes that are being put into circulation. And how many of those people actually re-use their containers? Washing them that first time can be tricky because of the oils in Indian cooking, and there are probably lots of people who can’t be bothered. Plus, if they get takeaway every week, then that’s a lot of plastic containers sitting in their cupboards – probably more than they know they’re going to use. So how many wind up in the bin?

The other thing I’ve been wondering is how hygienic is it to repeatedly use these containers? There are tales of chemicals leaking out of plastic containers into the food they’re storing, especially if you’re using them in the microwave. They get scratched after a while, which makes them harder to clean, and it’s just a general downhill rollercoaster as far as I can see.

So what’s the solution? I don’t know; maybe the only solution is don’t have takeaway. I can manage that, but what about everyone else out there? And what would happen to the take-out businesses?

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