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How I’m Staying Green in a Takeout World

We have been taught to reduce, reuse, and recycle since we were in elementary school. However, ever since the COVID pandemic struck the world, it has become harder to follow these rules and be an environmentally friendly consumer. Many restaurants turned to takeout as their primary way of serving, requiring the use of plastic and/or paper containers and bags, plastic silverware and napkins, and plastic cups and straws for drinks. Now 13 months into the pandemic, and having seen way too many non-environmentally friendly practices going both in and out of the dining hall, I have discovered some easy ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle as a college student in our new takeout world.

Use the reusable bags provided by Residence Life and Dining Services

Last week, RAs delivered green reusable bags to each resident. Starting Monday, campus dining services will no longer be providing students with brown paper bags to carry their food. These reusable bags are a great beginning step to a more environmentally friendly takeout service on campus! Students should be using these bags whenever they take out food and help lower our paper use and waste levels on campus.

Buy your own set of reusable silverware

Another simple way to lower your use of plastic in our new takeout setting is to buy your own set of reusable silverware. Lockes, and all restaurants, do provide plastic silverware when you order takeout. Although they may seem like only a small contribution to our waste, the number of silverware thrown away after one use adds up. Investing in silverware to keep in your dorm is a simple fix to this problem. If this isn’t in your budget, you can also wash and reuse a plastic silverware set!

Carry a reusable water bottle everywhere and use a Brita pitcher

Whether you’re going to Lockes, Starbucks, or even getting takeout at a restaurant, having a reusable water bottle to put your drink in instead of a plastic cup is both convenient and environmentally friendly. I love picking out a cute one to motivate myself to use it on a daily basis! Along with using a reusable water bottle, I also recommend getting a Brita pitcher for water in your dorm or apartment instead of buying cases of plastic water bottles.

Recycle, or wash and reuse, any containers your food comes in 

While using a reusable bag instead of a paper/plastic one to carry your takeout may be an easy switch, avoiding the plastic containers is a bit more difficult. Yet, you can still make using them environmentally friendly. One way to do this is to recycle the containers after you're finished using them. This way the plastic can be used to make another product. A second way is to wash the containers out and reuse them for other meals. I love doing this with bento boxes and soup containers to store leftovers, fruit, and baked goods in!

Use a reusable straw

My last tip for staying green in a takeout world is to limit your straw use. This can be easily done with a metal straw or a reusable water bottle! 

Although it may seem that being environmentally friendly is impossible in a takeout world, there are several ways to help limit the number of waste, paper, and plastic you use and throw away as a consumer. I hope the 5 ways I shared help inspire you this Earth Week to change up your habits and try new ways to help our planet stay healthy and beautiful!


Casey Schellberg

Manhattan '23

Casey is a junior at Manhattan College majoring in Childhood Education with a concentration in math and psychology. In her spare time she enjoys hanging out with friends, shopping, and exploring NYC. Casey is also a part of Manhattan’s cheerleading team and serves as an RA on campus. She is loving her new home as a Jasper at MC and cannot wait to see what the upcoming years bring!
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