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Delivery Dilemma: What to Do When People Still Use Styrofoam

Keep finding delivery places that use styrofoam? Here's how to start making change.

Last night we had a few friends over and committed a bit of an eco-sin. I'll admit it: We ordered delivery. It's the first time we've done it since moving to Denver. We ordered some delightful Indian food.

A friend remarked that Denver seems to have a bigger styrofoam problem than New York does. I was skeptical at first, but in thinking more about it, she was right. I see more styrofoam here than I did in New York (or Boulder, for that matter, except for that one business that sold the stuff that got spilled on the president).

Later our friend, who lives downtown, said he has a hard time finding delivery at all. Nobody wants to deliver downtown, it seems. I suggested that it was because the parking is tough down there and you can't idle out front, like our delivery driver had just done. Rightly again, that first diner pointed out that in New York, they ride bikes.

I know of one chain here in Denver that delivers on bikes, and I'll bet there are more, but it's definitely not as ubiquitous as the classic New York scene of the person on a bike zipping up a sidewalk or through traffic with a couple of pizzas on an oversized basket, or maybe a bunch of plastic bags hanging from the handlebars.

So why the heck is Denver's takeout and delivery food so environmentally dumb?

Join me in avoiding delivery places that use styrofoam.

We haven't been at all scientific about this, of course, but our assumption is that much of New York City and schoolchildren in Los Angeles know (and that Dunkin Donuts reluctantly accepts) something that many Denver restaurants seem not to get. Odd, in an otherwise pretty environmentally conscious metropolitan area!

Here are a few places to start making change:

Just don't order delivery very much. There's a lot of waste involved in delivery food.

When you call to place an order, ask if the restaurant uses styrofoam for its delivery containers. Done enough times, it'll be pretty clear that it's on customers' minds. (Also—it's very easy to take your own container for takeout. Restaurants have always responded positively to us doing that, and it's another kind of guerrilla-marketing approach to wasting less: People see you doing it an, in our experience, often say, "That's a good idea.")

Change one place at a time. If there's a place you really like, get your friends together and change it. Some of my GOOD colleagues started working on that with a nearby shop months ago.

Or follow the example of those Los Angeles kids. Change your whole town. Get styrofoam banned. Get it taxed.

Do you have other ideas?

Photo via Flickr (cc) user lucianvenutian.

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