New future: Food packaging

Food packaging with a conscience

In conversations with Elisa Naquevi of @tropikelle

Image: Raconteur

Due to the Covid-19 lockdown, social distancing measures have changed consumer behaviour especially towards the food sector. With higher demand for take out orders, this has resulted in an increase of household plastic waste and use of single-use plastics.

“In Hong Kong, people have used 2.2. times more throw-away plastics related to takeout packages since the outbreak, compared with the same time period last year. Deliveries were up by 25% in March, April and May in China. The volume of household waste in Thailand, and particularly plastic waste, has risen 15% due to three times as many food deliveries a day nationwide. And next to food, we’re all ordering more goods online that often uses plastic packaging.”

The amount of packaging waste is increasing with more households opting for takeout and cooking at home. In this segment, we look at ways to shop and dine as sustainably as possible together with Elisa Naquevi, an advocate for sustainable ways of living.

① Recommend 2-3 restaurants/cafes that encourage sustainable takeout or use sustainable packaging.

There are so many good options in Singapore that it’s very hard to choose! But I guess I’ll mention the ones I go to more frequently. I really like Plain Vanilla Bakery because they pack everything in pretty carton boxes and they never give bags to carry the takeaways, you have to bring your own or carry in your hands. Their daily salads are super tasty and don’t get me started on the cupcakes… yum!

The Social Space is also a favourite of mine. It’s a multi-concept store and cafe that focuses on sustainability and zero waste while providing employment opportunities for those who face difficulties getting a job due to reasons beyond their control. They make all the food in-house with excellent quality ingredients. Their retail space hosts amazing local brands from the sustainability space.

For takeout orders, Plain Vanilla Bakery packs their cupcakes in simple carbon boxes

Made out of coffee husks, Huskee coffee mugs are stylish and microwave safe
Image: Huskee

Share with us 2-3 favourite food container brands that you personally recommend for people on the go, or to use at home.

I think that any container works when it comes to takeaways. I feel like the most sustainable thing to do is to take your own containers and cutlery if you are going to self-collect your food. I’d recommend glass containers if you are going to eat directly from it, because it feels like you are eating from a proper plate. It’s a much better experience when compared to eating from a plastic container. I always carry around a stainless steel water bottle and I recently discovered Huskee coffee mugs and fell in love with their stylish design. They are made out of coffee husks which is incredible and they are also microwave safe.

③ How do you envision the next future trends in food packaging?

Predicting the future is very difficult, but I do see more businesses caring about the environment and making changes that are more in line with sustainability principles. I think it’s very hard for a business to do everything in the most eco-friendly way because there are many different factors involved, and in the case of restaurants, food safety comes first. But I’m hoping that plastic alternatives will become mainstream, as well as for people to carry their own bags and containers when taking delivery.

④ Any notes you would like to add on for sustainable ways of living in the future?

We as consumers have the power to change anything by demanding what we want to see from the different businesses. When you see a restaurant giving single use plastic, you can tell them how it would be amazing if they changed that. Taking your own bag to the supermarket, bringing your own reusable coffee mug for takeaway coffee, or cooking simple things at home instead of ordering so much delivery, can make a huge impact to the environment and your pocket! There is a famous quote from Maya Angelou that says “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” The point is not to do everything 100% perfect, but to do what we can with the means that we have, as doing a little already makes a big impact.

Image: Nick Fewings

About Elisa Naquevi

Elisa, is a Singapore-based lifestyle blogger who covers topics relating to conscious living, specifically in areas such as fashion and beauty.