How to reduce waste with your takeaway

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Takeaways are great for busy days, but the waste wreaks havoc on the environment

Image by Brian Yurasits via Unsplash

Takeaway food and drink litter make up a large part of the waste that winds up in our oceans. According to recent research by the University of Cadiz, food containers, lids, and straws made up a stark majority of waste found in the world’s seas. And research in 2019 found that 40% of people under 34 in Ireland get a takeaway once a week. All of this means that our takeaway habits can run the risk of being wasteful.

With that in mind, here are some ways to reduce your waste when you’re picking up your next delicious burger.


Knives Out

Sometimes you need a knife and fork – those seaside curry chips aren’t quite finger food. But if your dinner only needs to make it from the restaurant to the table, opt-out of plastic cutlery. Apps like Deliveroo allow you to check a box for receiving cutlery when your food gets delivered. That way, you’re not using it for the sake of it, and they keep it for when it’s really needed. Plus, you can use your favourite fork instead, so it’s a win-win.

Boxing match

Keep Cups revolutionised takeaway coffee for so many, by providing a practical way of getting a low-waste flat white.  And while reusable container use was curtailed at the beginning of the pandemic, it’s making a return. Take it one step further and bring your own container with you when you’re ordering takeaway food. See if they can serve your dinner in your trusty Tupperware. If not, you can use the box they give you again and wash it thoroughly to give it new life. We’re convinced Irish houses are built on those Chinese takeaway plastics.

Frugal foodie

Food waste is another potential downside to the takeaway tradition. Sometimes we order more than we’ll finish, sometimes the restaurant over-prepares. Either way, there can be an enormous amount of food that winds up uneaten. If you want to try multiple dishes and you’re ordering for a group, see if you can share some with a friend. If you over-order, use your leftovers, like rice, for a delicious lunch the next day (but make sure to store your leftovers safely!)

Choosing to order your lunch from a restaurant that focuses on compostable packaging and local produce is another good call. Galway’s Tartare, 3FE in Dublin, and Good Day Deli in Cork are all examples of greener meal-makers. But take a look at your own favourite eatery, and see what changes are being made on a local level. When it comes to the environment, you don’t need to stop ordering out entirely, just do it more consciously when you can. Our oceans will thank you!