Key takeaway: As another way of minimizing our environmental footprint, I invite you to bring your own food containers when taking out!
Personal environmentalism – which, I reflect, is a form of personal CSR – was already rearing its beautiful head since my student days, specifically towards the end of my elementary years. I recall seeing posters in the cafeteria that were somewhat shockingly conyo but got their message across very effectively: MALIGO (Make Linis as you Go [Clean as you go]). I am not sure if it was meant to be a pun on maligo, the Filipino word for “to bathe” (which also connotes cleanliness), but nevertheless, it was a friendly reminder from the community to tidy up after oneself particularly after eating. I saw the same thing in principle in college, though thankfully in a more straightforward version: CLAYGO (Clean as you Go). My colleague at BCYF, who is also Atenean, and I still use it regularly.
It was also here in college where I first heard of the concept of BYOB, or Bring Your Own Baunan (the baunan is a portable food container used to store baon (the Filipino term for packed lunch). As I almost always brought my own packed lunch from home everyday, I didn’t have much opportunity to see it in action myself, but if I recall right, the BYOB project had two parts: One was similar to the Starbucks practice of adding a small discount to your order if you bring your own tumbler, Starbucks-branded or not. The other, which I experienced more often, involved charging more for any dish ordered from in-school stalls, with the extra charge serving as a “deposit” for the cafeteria utensils used. Students who returned them on their own to the designated collecting areas would get back their deposit.
Notwithstanding the “reward” of getting back your money, the practice seems in line with personal CSR principles for me – if only students would do it even without incentive except the joy of purposeful service.
I myself have been for some time now doing my own version of BYOB, even outside the walls of the university. For one, if you recall my post a couple of months back, I mentioned that I bring my own hard plastic chopsticks with me wherever I go, although BYOB is a secondary reason. I also bring my own spoon and fork to avoid having to use disposables if faced with no other choice. But bringing your own baunan out? Not everyone would think of doing it. But I would, and in fact, I just did so this morning.
My mom had suddenly craved for some Jollibee, and when she asked me if I had eaten lunch yet (to which I replied in the negative), she told me to have some Jollibee bought. While she ordered the standard Chickenjoy (fried chicken) with palabok (a dry glass noodle dish with shrimp, ground pork, and hardboiled egg among others), I decided to try, for the second time, the new Spice-Glazed Chicken. (On a side note, it’s very delicious, sweeter and tangier than the original Chickenjoy [which I would still not give up!], but because it is a sauce-riddled chicken, it is difficult for me to eat the way I normally eat fried chicken, which is with my hands.)
Not only did I write down the order list not on a piece of paper but on my Boogie Board, before I gave both board and money to the chauffeur, I went to the pantry and dug out a basket. In it, I placed a somewhat large Lock & Lock food container and my Sistema soup bowl. I indicated on the Boogie Board, but told the chauffeur nonetheless, to have the Creamy Macaroni Soup (I just love this one from J’bee) placed in the Sistema bowl and the spice-glazed chicken in the Lock & Lock rather than takeaway containers; there was enough room in the basket for the accompanying rice, which was wrapped in plastic. Oh, and also to not provide tissue napkins or disposable cutlery anymore. (I belatedly realized, when I got the orders, that I had forgotten to ask them to not provide straws too.)
The very first time I attempted this, I was told that their policies do not let them do this, but the second time I did (this was the third), they graciously accepted. So, although I had given the chauffeur instructions to give me a ring if they resisted again, I was happy that my wishes would more likely be fulfilled. Hence, the photos above (that’s the chicken) and following.
I even used the lid of the Lock & Lock container the chicken was placed in for my rice, so that I wouldn’t have to use an extra plate (and add more soap suds and water to the sink, since the lid would be soaped anyway). Unfortunately, I did not do the same for my mom’s order, as I knew she might not like it; nor for the drinks, because those cups have standard measures and are filled to capacity visually in the rush of daily operations – and if I brought a tumbler to put the drinks in, they would still measure them in the paper or in-house cups anyway, which defeats the purpose.
It may look weird to some seeing someone lug through the mall or a fast food joint with several bulky-ish containers and presenting them to a possibly shocked food server. But what do we care about what others think, as long as we know we are doing something in line with personal social responsibility?
I invite everyone to consider the gesture next time. When you go somewhere for takeout, or eat at a restaurant and take out your leftovers, bring a food container or two and have the food stored there. That’s one paper, plastic, or Styrofoam container, which will most likely be used only once then thrown away, down.
One small step, but one step nonetheless, for the environment.
Featured image from SistemaPlastics.com (Copyright Sistema Plastics, 2015)