A Local Effort to Donate Single-Use Utensils
Most people have ordered take-out from a restaurant and come home with a lot of single-use plastic items, such as utensil packets, sauce containers, straws, and take-out containers. The utensil packets (and maybe the sauce) ends up in a drawer and forgotten about or ends up in the trash. In a survey conducted in the Triangle region, results showed that 87% of respondents reported that they did not use the plastic utensils provided with their to-go meal.
Kaley Cross is the founder of Rooted Reuse and a member of Towards Zero Waste, a nonprofit organization in NC dedicated to promoting waste-conscious living through education & inspiration. Kaley responded to an individual’s post in a local ‘Buy Nothing’ group on Facebook who was trying to pass on some individually wrapped plastic utensil packets and knew an organization in need of some to use for their free meal-distribution events. She took advantage of this opportunity and expanded the offer to those in her community that had extra utensil packets. Kaley set up a drop-off point in front of Green4Life in Cary, NC and was stationed outside collecting utensils one Saturday morning for two hours. In those two hours, she collected over 10,000 individually wrapped utensil packets, which equates to approximately 228 pounds of plastic. The majority of the utensils were donated to Food Not Bombs, an organization that provides free meals to those in need.
Kaley said she hopes people will use this story as a reminder for those to reduce single-use plastic usage when possible, and to motivate individuals and businesses to push for an ‘opt-in’ policy for distributing cutlery, condiment packets, napkins, and straws. With an ‘Opt-In’ policy, a business would provide individuals with the option to select what ‘extras’ they want, if any, when ordering food rather than automatically being given all the ‘extras’. Not only would this prevent unnecessary single-use plastics from entering the waste-stream, but can save restaurants and business owners money by cutting costs.
If you are a restaurant or business owner, please contact our department if you’d like any assistance in reducing and recycling waste created at your establishment. If you are a resident, take action in your personal life and community to reduce single-use plastics.