An unexpected power outage allowed for an impromptu lunch outing to a Thai restaurant this afternoon – and my first chance to face, and deal with, my restaurant waste.

When we sat down at Phuket Thai, I was pleased to see that the napkins were made of cloth.  Phew.  And when the waitress came around with disposable chopsticks, I got out my own pair from my “To Go Wear” set that I had just attached to my purse this morning. Check!


I was feeling like I might be able to walk away from this restaurant experience trash-free, until I saw the serving size of my order of Elegant Tofu Curry (delicious stuff, by the way).  It could have easily fed all four of us – but we each ordered a dish, so I knew there would be left-overs.

My co-workers and I had a nice leisurely lunch, chatting and sampling each other’s dishes.  When we were all finished, the plate of Elegant Tofu Curry was still half full.

And then came the moment of truth.  “Would you like to take this home?”  The rest of the table turned and looked at me when the waitress posed this question.  We had just been talking about my pledge to be trash-free this year.

So…do you take the yummy food home in a disposable container to prevent the food from being thrown in the trash (thus creating more waste to prevent waste) or do you just let the food get tossed (I assumed that they did not compost their wasted food – I should have asked).  I figured that in either scenario, I was not going to walk away trash-free.  But in one scenario I would miss out on some awesome Thai goodness.

I decided before making any rash decisions to investigate the options.  “We have the Styrofoam container, a chinese take-out container, and a plastic container you could reuse,” the waitress patiently explained.

The Winner!

I chose the chinese take-out option, because the containers are made with some kind of paper product, which I assumed that I would most likely be able to compost or feed to worms.  Before leaving the restaurant I ripped a piece off the top to see if it would dissolve in water (hence the ripped flap in the photo). There is some kind of impermeable lining on the inside, but otherwise I felt pretty good about my decision. If anything, I could clean them up and use them again.

After checking around the web this afternoon, I found out that I can compost the containers – except for the handles, of course.  That was a close one.  Next time, I might not be so lucky.

I know that the moral of the story is to always bring your own take-out containers, but this was an impromptu event.  I have been looking for something I can stuff in my purse for such occasions, but have yet to find that perfect, small-sized container.

Ideas anyone?