News | 1 April 2022
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Friday Five: Ways to avoid packaging at eateries

Over the past few years many eateries around Aotearoa have replaced their plastic packaging with ‘compostable’ packaging. Unfortunately, this single-use packaging may not be as green as you think.

Lots of the compostable packaging out there isn’t suitable for home composting or our commercial composting facilities. Plus, compostable packaging is still single use, so even if it is composted, it has used energy and resources being produced and transported, and then is used once and discarded.

The result? Most compostable packaging ends up in landfill, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions as it breaks down. Avoiding single-use packaging, whether plastic, compostable, or something else, is the way to go.

Here are five ideas of how you can enjoy takeaways and eating out with a clear conscience.

1. Bring your own reusable cup or bowl 

Take your reusable cup, cutlery and bowl to your favourite eatery. Most local eateries will fill clean and dry containers with your order. In fact, you might even get a little discount! 

Don’t forget that you can ask for your fresh juice, smoothies and bubble teas to be put into your reusable cup too.

Fancy some lunch from your local supermarket? Most supermarkets allow you to bring your own containers to the deli, meat and seafood counters. Check your local supermarket’s website to learn more. 

2. Forgot your own bowl or cup? Borrow one!

Forgot your container? Don’t worry. Waste Minimisation Seed Fund recipients Cupcycling and Again Again provide rentable takeaway containers and cups at many Wellington eateries. Head to their websites to see where you can get food or drinks in these containers near you.

If you already have a Cupcycling cup or Again Again container, many non-participating eateries will accept these containers providing they are clean and dry. 

A silly white-knitted poodle cup holder, with two reusable takeaway cups stacked inside it.

3. Reduce, reuse and recycle - in that order!

We are all familiar with the three Rs – reduce, reuse and recycle – but did you know that they are part of the Waste Hierarchy? If none of the options above are available, consider what packaging you can use that will reduce your environmental impact. 

So, if you cannot reduce (avoid) packaging, look for packaging options in the order of things you can reuse, then recycle (numbers 1, 2 and 5). Always remember to clean your recycling and put it in a recycling bin or bag. 

4. Ditch single-use water bottles and refill around town 

Did you know that the average New Zealander throws away 168 single-use plastic bottles per year? RefillNZ is trying to change this by creating a network of places where you can fill up your bottle for free! Just look for the RefillNZ sticker in the window of all participating businesses.

We also have a map of all of the drinking fountains around the city. Visit our website to find out where you can refill when out and about.

5. Eat in. And think about what you are ordering 

Ask yourself, am I really in such a hurry? Pōneke is home to many great eateries that have curated wonderful spaces for you to relax. Find a place that has an ambience that suits you and use the space to unwind while enjoying your kai. Check out WellingtonNZ's new local eats list.

Whether you are eating out or in, eateries often use single-use items in your order. Think about asking for no straw, napkin, or cutlery, for the sauce to be on the plate rather than a disposable ramekin, or swapping your classic tinfoil wrapped burrito for a burrito bowl. 

Watch out each Friday for a fun list of five great activities to do, places to explore, or things to discover in our awesome city.