Eco Cheapo Leftover Kit

Dinner Kit from Bocadorada at flickr.comOne of the downsides of going to conferences is that although the food is free, it’s often not the best quality (even at a conference about food!) and it is almost always served on disposable dishes.   I tried to minimize my trash generation this week by reusing napkins and drinking out of  a waterbottle but I was super impressed by a fellow conference attendee who brought his own little tupperware container and metal utensils to eat with.  (Lunches were served buffet-style so he was able to pass up all the plastic dishes and silverware quite easily.)

It’s something I’ve thought about a lot and Will and I do make an effort to take our own leftover containers to restaurants, especially Bajio, but I’m always looking to do more.  I was telling Will the other day that what I really need is a handy little kit to take with me that would include a cloth napkin, reusable silverware, and a leak-proof container (or two) for leftovers.  This would also allow me to avoid using plastic silverware or paper napkins at restaurants.  The biggest challenge is to make it small enough to be handy.  It would also be great to keep it plastic free, although that’s rather a hard one.  I’m very intrigued by the wrap-n-mat foldable sandwich holders but they are made with PVC, LDPE, or PEVA which they claim are on the FDA food-safe list but don’t sound especially safe to me.

I told him a couple weeks ago that I think there’s a market out there for someone who can create a product like this that people could carry around to restaurants.  I came up with the name “Eco Cheapo Leftover Kit” but Will cringed and suggested I leave the marketing to someone else.  I started thinking about names that play off “doggy bag” but it really didn’t get any less cringeworthy.

Do any of you know if there’s already a product like this out there or have aspirations to make one?  I’d buy a few, and I’m sure they’d make great gifts. this!

4 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Tiffany said,

    November 4, 2008 @ 3:56 pm

    Check out this article from treehugger: It’s for “carry your own cutlery”. I saw this awhile back and thought the idea was just nifty! Not sure about what you could take in the form of non-plastic food storage, but at least the utensils would be a start. Great idea!

  2. 2

    Maggie said,

    November 16, 2008 @ 10:21 pm

    Thanks for the link! That video about making handbags out of old dirty plastic bags was fascinating. It makes me want to buy one of their cutlery kits to support all the people involved in the process even though I’m sure I could make one myself using scraps of cloth…

  3. 3

    Heather said,

    January 8, 2009 @ 5:50 pm

    [Edited to turn the URL into a link]

    I’m from Aus, and there is a strong Asian influence there. It is super easy to find separated containers to take leftovers home from restaurants…. I am so shocked at how hard it is to find here in the USA! I also think these containers are more available to us because we take our own lunch to school (from elementary through highschool) and it’s very easy to pack a separated lunch in a resuable, quality, durable container with different compartments to store all your food – rather than a brown paper bag every day… Plus, Aussies are generally waste concious.
    The only thing here I can recommend is a ‘japanese lunch box’ which you can find at:
    [Amazon link]
    I think it’s expensive, but it would be worth it.
    I lived in Korea for a while and brought back their reusable lunch bags with me which include:
    3 small containers (metal with plastic lids) – 2 of them are divided in half to separate your dishes
    1 small ‘pencil case’ which holds chopsticks and a spoon (but you could easily put your own knife and fork in there)
    1 waterproof carry bag that everything fits neatly into.

    The Asians have been using these for years – not cheap nasty plastics and plastic wrap..!

    Best of luck – I think I’m going to go and design and develop a reusable meal container which is either ceramic or glass… I’ll keep you informed… The USA deserves to stop having to use crap plastics (bad for your health, and of course, the environment)

  4. 4

    Maggie said,

    January 9, 2009 @ 5:09 pm

    Heather –
    Definitely let me know when you create your plastic-free product! The Amazon link looks okay but I’m more intrigued by the stainless steel containers

    with a set of bamboo utensils

    but yeah, still not super cheap. I’m using Pyrex bowls with plastic lids for now and they work okay despite not having compartments.

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