ZERO WASTE FOOD: Asking to use your own container // what to say and how

Hello everybody! Earlier today I went to the movies with my boyfriend Jens to see the new Star Wars movie, we got our tickets on the phone, no need for printing lol. It’s kind of uncool to bring in your own snacks, although I have done it several times myself actually. I have primarily done it because the snacks you can buy at the movies are often neither vegan nor package free. However, today I gave it a go anyway. I brought my own small canvas bags from home and mixed bulk sweets and nuts in it then weighted it and paid. I also asked an employee if it was okay that I used my reusable water bottle instead of their paper cups for soda. Paper cups are actually unrecyclable because they contain a small layer of plastic to avoid the drink sieving through the paper. On the bag of my bottle, it reads “800 ml” and I showed it to the women helping me. I asked her if I could use my own container and pay for the medium soda (which came with an 800 ml cup so no difference). She was super nice and kind and said that it was no issue. Totally waste-free trip to the movies and Rise of Skywalker was great too.

My best tips for using your own container:

  • Always ask. Ask the staff at the restaurant/store if it’s okay that you use your own. I always make sure that they know what I am doing so it does not seem like I am trying to steal from them.
  • Be friendly. When you ask, smile and be nice, let the interaction be a positive one for both of you, even if the staff turns you down. Sometimes odd rules are in place that prohibits home brought containers for whatever reasons. If that’s the case, you can always explain what you don’t want to use plastic, that you’re allergic to plastic (lol I have done this several times) or that, of course, the containers are clean. But if the staff still refuse, be nice. It’s okay that they don’t jeopardize their jobs for you, still make the interaction a positive one for both of you.
  • Bring containers that match the product. If you’re planning on buying a drink then bring a reusable water bottle or something that looks like it. They often have measurements on them and that helps when the staff is figuring out what to do.
  • Be prepared to pay. Sometimes it’s not possible to tare your containers. When I got bulk sweet I paid for the canvas bag too, because not all systems can tare, and sometimes the employees don’t have the time and you’re holding up the line. If it’s a few pennies, I’ll gladly pay that extra.
  • Remember to thank the staff. Let them know that this means a lot to you, if the moment is right you can also explain why you choose to use your own containers. Some are happy to hear it.
  • Don’t be scared of rejection. For a lot of people this can seem scary, but fear not. I’ve gotten very few negative reactions myself, and often the staff doesn’t even care. It’s all in our heads and it’s just going out there and trying our best, even though it can seem a bit intimidating.
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