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The Recyclist: I don't need a doggy bag, thank you. I've got my own

May 20, 2010 |  9:47 am

I don't like to leave food on a plate at a restaurant. Maybe it's because I grew up with a "there are children starving in China" kind of mother. More likely, it's because I have a chowhound at home who enjoys a side dish to his Purina. That's why, more often than not, I leave a restaurant with a Styrofoam doggy bag.

But no more.

In an earlier post about my efforts to reduce the amount of trash I produce, I happily reported how Long Beach -- where I live -- recycles Styrofoam. Several readers rightfully pointed out that just because I can recycle those clamshell takeout containers doesn't mean I should. Another pointed out that "reduce," after all, was the first word in my newly self-proclaimed "reduce, reuse, recycle" mantra.  A third pointed out something so painfully obvious I felt like I had been whacked with a rolled-up newspaper: Why not bring my own plastic containers from home for my doggy bag?

Um. Good points.

So now, I am packing plastic. I've collected a handful of my B-team plastic food containers and placed an array of sizes in my car trunk, along with some plastic bags. (You already know about my obsession with plastic food containers.)

Of all the little changes I've tried to make, though, this one has been the hardest to work into my routine. I  repeatedly find myself about to pay the check, when I realize I've forgotten to bring a plastic container into the restaurant. It happened again on Sunday at the new Sunrise Cafe. But this time, right after we ordered, I walked back out to the car and fetched a plastic container and a bag, betting that we'd need it. I was right.

I felt a little self-conscious scraping the remains of a pancake and an egg sandwich into the container. But here's the reality: No one noticed. No one cared. I don't even think my husband noticed, because his nose was buried in the Sports section. But that's one less Styrofoam container going into the recycling.

And one happy dog.

So what do you think of this? Goofy? Long overdue? Not much, because one Styrofoam container won't make much of a difference? Do you have other suggestions for limiting restaurant trash? Leave a comment.

-- Rene Lynch


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Photo: The remains of Sunday's breakfast, safely stowed in what was once a Chinese food takeout container. Credit: Rene Lynch