• February 26, 2024

Eco-Friendly Take-Out Containers Could Make Takeout Less Terrible for the Environment

Sustainability has always been at the heart of Oyster oyster, Rob Rubba’s Vegetarian-Tasting Menu Restaurant in Washington, DC “Climate change is damn real,” he says. “So I thought about what a plate of food will have to be in 10 years.” At Oyster Oyster, this means no citrus or olive oil (due to the carbon footprint of transportation), meat (shellfish only), and ingredients from nearby farms. “We’re a restaurant that is all about restraint,” says Rubba. “It was an exercise that prepared us for take-away.” Not only did COVID-19 delay the opening of the restaurant last March, it also forced the team to redefine the gourmet setup as prepackaged meals when it finally opened last summer. And that same sustainability-focused ethos made Rubba think about the entire take-out experience. “We never wanted to take away, but we realized we had to do it or we wouldn’t see the other side,” he says. Here he introduces the Oyster Oyster Path, which uses biodegradable utensils, tote bags, and a little ingenuity.

“Our restaurant supplier had these Tellus containers in stock, so we decided to try them out. They made sense to us – they’re compostable and made from sugarcane fibers that are left over after grinding. The only thing is that you can’t put anything wet in it. If we tried to serve polenta it would pop the bottom out. That’s why we used a non-sprayable, compostable parchment paper to help. “

Growler program

“There’s nothing revolutionary about a growler program. We’re just a restaurant that does that. Our thought is that instead of disposable containers of beer like six-packs, we could create a closed loop. We have a draft system for the beers and we bought glass mugs from an American manufacturer to reduce our carbon footprint when traveling around the country. When a guest orders beer, we fill the growler, bring it back, and run a three-part disinfection process to clean the growler so that it comes back on. “

“When we first opened in the summer, the picnic was big because we have all these little parks in DC. Friends met for socially distant lunches and we got requests for cutlery. The last thing we wanted to do was introduce more things, and honestly there is no perfect solution for that. We looked at sugarcane utensils, but they use up so many resources and don’t compost well. That is why we received these EcoChoice bamboo utensils. Even if someone left them on the ground, they would biodegrade. “

Compost intake

“What is the point of singing this song of sustainability if our guests do not have access to composting? I knew it would be difficult for people to compost at this time, and I didn’t want people to feel guilty. So it was important to me to offer this as a resource. We work with Compost crew as they compost on a commercial scale and accept not only banana peels and egg shells but meat as well. We let customers know they can get their compost in kickback emails after they place their orders. “

carry bag

“We put in carrier bags so that we don’t put any more paper bags into the environment. Packaging is bad no matter what, but at least tote bags act as a conduit for better practice. Our bags are made of organic cotton and are printed by a custom ink shop near us. We cooperate with An-Phuong Ly from A maggot to decorate the bags with natural dyes from our onion leftovers. “

“We work with Fresh impact farmswho do hydroponics in Arlington, Virginia. They grow these beautiful flowers and herbs and ship them in small Rubbermaid containers. I really liked her and thought a dish might fit in there. Now let’s create a program that will allow you to sign up for a takeaway container like this one. You bring it back and get a deposit and we disinfect it. It’s like the old milkman system. “

Oyster shell collection

“In DC, every restaurant is part of the Oyster recovery programwho have favourited used oyster shells to rebuild the reef. We sell oysters and have a trash can to collect mussels in the restaurant. We are providing this information to our customers via kickback email so they know they can bring the mussels to us. With some of the deeper, nicer shells we get, we turn them into votive candles. It’s not the most practical thing, but if something can be used for other purposes, it will extend the life of the product. “

“There’s so much gray area with this stuff, to be honest. We have studied the local and global effects of these napkins. Bamboo grows quickly, can grow anywhere, and doesn’t require cutting or milling trees. That was the right way for us. We don’t get anything special, just these bamboo and sugar cane napkins from Caboo. It’s the little things that we think about. “

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