Thursday, February 29, 2024

Cambridge is blessed with so many delicious restaurants, all of which I hope will still be in business whenever Covid ends. I may not be willing to dine indoors in the meantime, but am more than happy to support my local restaurants via takeout orders. The resulting plastic trash heaps leave me wracked with guilt, though, and I am begging Cambridge restaurants: Please stop packaging takeout food with so much plastic!

For starters, why is the default behavior to include a handful of plastic cutlery with every order? Those 7 p.m. UberEats and Grubhub deliveries are heading to people’s homes – where people already have cutlery. That handful of plastic you include for free is either going straight to the garbage or will sit in a kitchen drawer for three months and be trashed when the collection grows unwieldy. Do not fool yourself by thinking it’s okay because that plastic fork is recyclable; it is not. The city of Cambridge is very clear that it does not want plastic cutlery in single-stream recycling bins. Before providing cutlery, please ask patrons if they want it.

Additionally, please package food in those compostable, paper-based containers instead of the plastic clamshells or commonly used black plastic containers with clear lids. There are so many sturdy paper-based options available that are readily composted in backyard piles and by Cambridge’s curbside pickup service. Side note: Do not waste your money on compostable plastics. If you pull a “compostable” plastic lid out of your backyard pile a year from now, it’ll be no worse for wear than today. Also, Cambridge’s recycling guide says to just trash that stuff; do not put it in the green bins.

Finally, I understand that curry cannot be transported in cardboard. So can restaurants all agree on the same plastic container for those rare instances when plastic is 100 percent necessary? That way I can reuse them like Tupperware by maintaining a tidy stack of paired bottoms and tops in a single kitchen drawer, instead of an explosion of mismatching chaos.

I would like to order more takeout. Cambridge restaurants, please help me do that without generating a pile of plastic trash.

Jess Bryant, Chilton Street