A Delivery Resolution

January 3, 2009 at 10:24 am

Melissa Graham

Like many of us, I have several New Year’s resolutions. Some of which are pretty common – there’s always my promise to exercise more. Others a little less expected – since my holiday cards are STILL unmailed, I resolve to write them in July this year. Given that I’m marching towards a pretty significant milestone birthday, some are pretty personal – these I won’t be publicizing. There is one, however, that is particularly relevant to Local Beet readers.

As I admitted in a previous post, my family orders in more than we probably should. After a long day in the kitchen, the last thing that I want to do is fire up my stove and mess up my kitchen. It’s, thus, far easier to make a call and have our meal delivered. One of my ill-fated resolutions is always to curb this habit entirely. The best that I’ve achieved is to limit our delivery allowance to two to four times a month. Accordingly, much as I would like, I certainly will not openly declare any intent to give it up entirely. Instead, I resolve to take a smaller step. Any time a restaurant delivers to me in non-recyclable containers, especially Styrofoam, I not only will no longer give them business, I will specifically call them to explain my decision.

This choice, one that in all probability seems incredibly minor, was inspired by a bag that carried one of our take out orders. About two weeks ago, a delivery place sent out dinner in a brown grocery bag that proudly proclaimed “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” In smaller text, it provided advice on how to implement this mantra; the standard stuff, of course – change a light bulb, switch off the lights, turn off the water while tooth brushing. I was tickled. Assuredly, the items inside would be packed away in recyclable aluminum or plastic, maybe brown waxed boxes or at worst well-intentioned compostables. With trepidation, I carefully pried apart the stapled top, peeking down and reaching in, what did I find? Styrofoam – the devil of disposables – the worst of the worst.

This probably seems like an insignificant decision. But sometimes, seemingly nonsensical actions can have a big impact. It reminds my of Arlo Guthrie’s iconic song about garbage where he suggested that real change could come from singing the refrain of Alice’s Restaurant:

“You know, if one person, just one person does it they may think he’s really sick and they won’t take him. And if two people, two people do it, in harmony, they may think they’re both faggots and they won’t take either of them. And three people do it, three, can you imagine, three people walking in singin’ a bar of Alice’s Restaurant and walking out. They may think it’s an organization. And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day, I said fifty people a day walking in singin’ a bar of Alice’s Restaurant and walking out. And friends, they may think it’s a movement.”

Imagine everyone you know refusing to order from a take-out place using Styrofoam. One would think that this could help us take one step towards putting the Styrofoam factories out of business. It’s a small step, but coupled with our bigger actions, a bit of consumer advocacy could do the world some good.

For other potential New Year’s resolution ideas, check out February’s issue of Bon Appétit, which lists “50 Ways to Eat Green.”



  1. I do about 90% of the cooking at home. Sometimes it’s a fully planned meal, sometimes it’s just a quick pantry “throw-together”. A few weeks ago, I was pretty tired and Jill suggested that we order Thai. I was fully ready to until I had the image in my head of all the trash that comes with it. There’s a lot of styrofoam and some un-recyclable plastic when we order Thai. I vetoed it last minute and just cooked something. I think that was the first time I made my dinner decision based on the amount of garbage it produces.

  2. Rob Gardner says:

    Move to the suburbs like me, you’ll hardly have any delivery options anyways!

  3. Speaking of garbage, one of my favorite movies this year was Wall-E, which I’m watching with Thor as I write. The environmental message is critical to the plot, yet subtle, and it’s a great way to teach younger kids about why it’s important not to be wasteful. I still love the time Thor refused a bag for a racecar we bought for him at a big box store telling the cashier that plastic bags are bad for the earth.

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