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7 Tips & Tricks To Help You Make Your Weekly Takeout More Eco-Friendly

Order your favourite foods the sustainable way.

With restaurant dining rooms closed for over a year, Canadians have been buying more takeout in order to enjoy their favourite eateries while following public health directives. While getting takeout is a great way to support local businesses (and gives you a break from cooking), the environmental impact of excessive packaging is worrying. Items like styrofoam boxes, disposable napkins and plastic utensils might be convenient, but they're doing the planet a disservice.

If you're one of the many Canadians concerned about the impact of excessive packaging, there are some simple actions that you can take to help improve things. Thanks to eco-friendly alternatives, sustainable living is more accessible than ever. All you need is a little bit of mindfulness and a commitment to do better.

Several companies have been actively working to reduce their impact on the environment. KFC Canada, for example, is dedicated to improving the sustainability of its business in a range of ways. From reducing food waste through the KFC Harvest Program and sourcing chicken from Canadian farms to introducing more eco-friendly packaging, this iconic restaurant franchise is making supporting the environment a priority.

On June 5, World Environment Day, KFC Canada announced another impressive sustainability goal. By 2025, it's aiming to make all its consumer-facing packaging (including takeout containers and utensils) 100% home compostable — and KFC Canada wants others in the restaurant industry to do the same.

It's important for brands to step up and do their part but there are steps that the average person can take, too. After all, a little effort can make a big difference. If you're ready to cut the waste in your takeout, these seven tips and tricks can get you started.

Skip Out On Plastic Utensils

Have you ever noticed how much plastic cutlery some restaurants throw into your takeout bag? Next time you place an online order, select the "no cutlery" option. If there isn't a choice to opt out, leave a comment in the "special requests" box that you can find on most delivery apps, and let them know you don't need it.

According to this 2019 PWC Consumer Insights Survey, Canadians are generally concerned about excessive packaging and many actively choose to avoid the use of plastic whenever possible. The same survey showed that up to 42% of Canadians are now steering clear of plastic and investing in products with less packaging.

In 2020, KFC Canada started testing compostable cutlery in response to this increasing concern for sustainable practices.

Use Your Own Napkins & Condiments

Photo by Sticker Mule on Unsplash

If you've been eating your fair share of takeout, chances are you've already got plenty of napkins and extra condiments lying around. Instead of getting more the next time you order in, try using up what you already have at home.

Though this may seem like a small problem, it can all add up, which isn't good for restaurants or the environment. In many cases, the easiest way to cut back on waste at home is to refuse to let it through the door in the first place.

Similar to cutlery, when ordering online or on the phone, say no to extra condiments and excessive napkins.

Make Use Of Leftover Packaging

Caykmia | Dreamstime

There are many ways you can prevent bags, cups, and containers from ending up in the trash — all it takes is a little creative thinking.

Reuse plastic bags for wet swimsuits when you go to the beach this summer. Paper bags are great for storing mushrooms or packing lunch. Wash out your plastic or paper coffee cups and reuse them for picnics, and save number six plastic to make DIY shrinkable charms. You can use leftover containers to grow new plants or to share food with friends without stressing about getting your containers back. If meal prepping is something you're into, you've just hit the jackpot.

Support Restaurants That Have Sustainability Commitments 

Whether it be in stores or while ordering takeout, 38% of Canadians look for products with environmentally friendly packaging when they shop. It's important to be mindful of supporting businesses that have a commitment to sustainability, even with something as seemingly minor as a takeout order.

For KFC Canada, the development of sustainable practices has been a priority for a long time. Some of the changes it's made include partnering with the Chicken Farmers of Canada to source locally raised chicken and its new sustainable packaging designs.

In 2019, KFC Canada made a point to remove all plastic straws and plastic bags from its restaurant system, and the new biodegradable bamboo poutine buckets launched in 2021. As the first restaurant of its kind to make a commitment to home-compostable packaging, KFC Canada will divert nearly 200 million pieces of packaging from landfills annually.

Customize Your Order & Leave Out What You Won't Eat

If you're the type to pick the tomato from your burger and toss it out with the wrapper, then you ought to know those days are long gone. It's never been easier to customize your order to leave out foods that you know you don't want to eat — be it the pickle, the cheese or the slice of tomato. It's one of the simplest things you can do to prevent food waste.

KFC are also committed to cutting back on food waste. Through the Harvest Program, surplus chicken from KFC is sent to charities that help Canadians cope with food insecurity. Since 2016 over 182,000 pounds of food has been donated to 241 different charities across Canada.

Properly Recycle Food Packaging

Carlos Andres | Instagram

Properly disposing of takeout packaging is a small yet powerful thing you can do to be more sustainable. When you've finished enjoying your delicious meal, rinse out your containers (including the small condiment ones) and place them in the appropriate bin — be it recycling, compost or trash.

Many restaurants are looking to improve their food packaging to make it easier to dispose of responsibly. KFC Canada, for instance, is changing its takeout labelling to be completely biodegradable, so you know it won't stick around in the environment for longer than it needs to.

Eat More Plant-Based Items

The quality of plant-based foods is only improving, which is great because they typically use significantly less water and carbon to produce than animal-based foods. It's been found that cutting back on meat consumption by as little as 25% would be enough to have a beneficial impact on the environment.

It's also become easy to find plant-based items on menus, like burgers, poutine, and KFC Canada's Plant-Based Sandwich. These foods can be environmentally conscious — and absolutely delicious — alternatives to meat products.

To encourage Canadians in their sustainability efforts, KFC Canada and Narcity are hosting an Instagram contest to celebrate World Environment Day. All you need to do to enter is:

  1. Follow @narcitycanada and @kfc_canada
  2. Like this post
  3. Tag a friend and comment with what little thing you're doing to help the environment
  4. For a bonus entry, share this post in your Instagram story and tag @narcitycanada and @kfc_canada

One lucky winner will be randomly selected to receive a grand prize of CA$500 every year to spend at KFC Canada until 2025 (total value of $2,500). The contest ends on June 15.

Committing to an eco-friendly lifestyle isn't difficult; it just requires some care. Start making more eco-conscious decisions when doing even the simplest of things (like ordering takeout) and before you know it, you'll have formed a healthy habit that helps the planet.

To learn more about KFC's sustainability mission, check out their website or follow them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or YouTube.