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The downside of ordering Chinese takeout – the waste.

Judging by the number of leftover sauce packets in the photo, one might think that I live on Chinese food. I like Chinese food, and probably order it once a month… mostly takeout. Most times, when I place my order, I try to tell the person that I’m speaking to that I don’t want any sauce packets, and to only give me a pint of rice. Otherwise the rice gets wasted, and I end of throwing the packets into a drawer. On a typical order, they give me about about a dozen packets or so, even though I don’t order egg rolls most of the time. Then there’s the extra rice that comes, even when I say that I don’t need it (it comes with the menu item, they tell me). Finally, there’s the fortune cookies that just get thrown out.

I spoke to a couple of friends, who told me that they experience the same thing. They said that they usually end up throwing out some rice, even if they keep it in the fridge with the good intention of reheating a container. One friend mentioned that he gets plastic cutlery every time that he orders, even though the food gets delivered to his house.

After my last ordering experience, I looked at the three pint containers of rice and threw my hands into the air. Neither my wife, myself or my friend were eating any rice at all… which meant that it was all going to get thrown out. That’s when I emptied my drawer of sauce packets onto the table and took a photo.

It was then that my wife came up with a good idea. What if all of the Chinese restaurants had an option where the customer could donate a rice container to the food pantry, along with some packets of soy, duck sauce, etc? If the customer only received the amount of rice that he or she wanted, the rest could be allocated to those who would appreciate the gesture. Just think, by the end of the day, the number of customers who would have the chance to donate a pint or a quart of rice. Even if 15% of the customers made a donation, that would still be a lot of rice.

Not to mention the environmental issue of ripping into individual plastic packages in order to get a tablespoon of sauce. Just limiting the number of packets that are thrown out in the trash would be something. It all adds up.

If the owners of the Chinese restaurants don’t want to deal with the hassles of donations, they should at least figure out how to curb the waste. Ask the customers how much rice they want when they place the orders, instead of relying solely on what the menu denotes. What might appear to be trivial when applying to a few orders, would weigh in on a much larger scale when multiplied by the number of yearly customers that end up throwing out the excess items.

Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside, Buffalo Porchfest, and Paint vs. Paint. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market on Elmwood. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at Statler City, the Hertel Alley Street Art Festival, and The Flutterby Festival.

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