Too Good to Waste – Doggy Box campaign

With the Christmas party season soon upon us (yes, really it’s that close), more of us will be celebrating by dining out with our friends and family. The season renowned for it’s excess, many of us are guilty of piling our plates a little too high, without a thought for the consequence of our waste.

Fortunately, a fantastic campaign has just been launched by the Sustainable Restaurant Association to help us combat this waste and get more from our food – it’s name, Too Good to Waste. Here, what it is all about.

So, you’re out for dinner, the menu is full of your favourite dishes. Your heart, or is it your stomach, wrestles control from your brain and orders big. The food arrives and indeed it is delicious. But, halfway through you’re defeated. What do you do? Until now, you’d be part of the majority of British diners if you left it and waved it goodbye as the waiter swept up the plate, took it back to the kitchen and slid the leftovers into the bin. What a waste!

The average UK restaurant throws out 21 tonnes of food a year. Astonishingly, 30% of that comes straight off diners’ plates. That’s 6.3 tonnes – or close to the weight of a double decker bus.

No one in their right mind can think that this appalling practice can continue. It’s bad for business, consumers and the planet as a huge amount of the 600,000 tonnes thrown out by the UK restaurant industry ends up in landfill.

So what’s to be done? Well the Sustainable Restaurant Association (www.thesra.org), a not for profit membership organisation set up to help restaurants be more sustainable, has just launched a major campaign to tackle the problem. Too Good To Waste is designed to raise awareness of the issue and tackle it head-on.

The main vehicle for this is our custom made biodegradable , recyclable doggy box. It’s not going to change the world on its own. But we hope the publicity it’s generated and the shared responsibility for restaurant food waste it has given diners will go some way towards cleaning up the industry. As well as distributing 25,000 boxes to participating restaurants in London (we hope to roll out the campaign across the country in 2012) we are also providing them with a pack of advice, information and tips that we think could help them cut waste by 20% and save £2-4,000 into the bargain.

When we asked 1,000 consumers whether they would ask to take home leftovers 25% said they were too embarrassed to do so. We’re not sure whether that’s because people think it’s somehow rude, or it’s just traditional UK reticence. After all, our American cousins have been doggy bagging for years. And, really don’t be embarrassed to ask . Top chefs like Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Thomasina Miers have rallied to the cause They both make the point that any chef worth his or her salt would much rather you took your leftovers home to enjoy the next day rather than see them go in the bin.

If you cooked a special meal at home for friends or family but over-catered would you throw the remains in the bin or would you box them up, put them in the fridge or freezer and heat up another time? Well, if the answer is the latter, then why not do the same when eating out.

Almost 100 London restaurants, including Oxo Tower, Cinnamon Club, Bistrot Bruno Loubet and Wahaca, have now signed up to Too Good To Waste and we’ve had dozens of enquiries from across the country. So look out for the sticker in your local restaurant’s window or check out our website www.toogood-towaste.co.uk to find somewhere that will be only too happy to box up your leftovers.

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