How To Stop Getting So Much Darn Plastic When You Order Takeout

For those days when getting off the couch really isn’t in the cards, you can avoid waste with a few strategic order tweaks.

For starters, opt for cuisines and dishes that tend to come wrapped in less plastic packaging, like burritos (often stored in aluminum foil, which is recyclable in some places) and pizza (the box is okay to recycle as long as it’s not greasy). If you know that a restaurant near you uses packaging that’s backyard compostable (very rare) or compostable in an industrial facility (more common, but you need to make sure you have one of those in your area), give them your order for the night.

Avoiding plastic packaging—especially with hot food—isn’t just easier on the planet; it’s better for your health. As low-waste advocate and registered dietitian Abby Cannon, J.D., R.D. reminds us, petroleum-derived plastics contain endocrine-disrupting compounds that leach into food and have been linked to weight gain, hormonal imbalances, and most recently, low sperm count.

On the rare occasion that she orders takeout food packaged in plastic (especially if it’s hot, which can increase the chances of leaching), she’ll transfer it to a glass or steel container right when it comes in the door. “That minimizes how much is leaching and enhances your experience because you’re not eating out of plastic,” Cannon says.

From there, she’ll rinse and properly recycle the plastic containers. She cautions against reusing them for food storage because of those endocrine disruptors, though if you can find some non-edible ways to give them a second life, by all means.

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