Eating Out of Styrofoam

Well it looks like styrofoam is still a go to container in take-out restaurants and food festivals.

And I’m ashamed to say that I ate out of the dirty containers twice this weekend.

In fact, my whole weekend was pretty glutenous and I’m stuck somewhere between a bad hang over and shame.

Friday was a family reunion of sorts. Between my two busy kids, a handful of adults, a messy house and a few sore throats, pho, the Vietnamese soup of champions, seemed an easy solution. We got take-out and then got stuck with four giant styrofoam containers — which are not recyclable.

According to Clevland State Univeristy, it takes more than one million years for styrofoam to break down. One million years.

Is one million years worth the 15 minutes of convenience to have a lukewarm bowl pho in your kitchen? Not for a nanosecond.

With the styrofoam safely tucked away in a garbage bag in the garage and the guilt of the pho behind me, I went downtown for family reunion of sorts part II.

We met at the Ottawa Poutinefest on Sparks Street. For those not in the know, poutine is a highly celebrated Canadian concoction of french fries, cheese curds and gravy. Poutinefest vendors add a variety of new and innovative ingredients and mixes the beloved deep fried dish.

So we pick a food truck and order. Suddenly, I’m holding a styrofoam container and a plastic water bottle. Oops. And the guilt comes pouring down.

Now this guilt was two fold: first for the styrofoam and secondly for the incredible amount of grease, fat and over-the-top indulgence I’ve just ingested.

Had I just paid closer attention to each vendor stand, I would have noticed the type of containers the poutine was served in and could have gone to a vendor who gave out cardboard instead. I could have diverted at least one piece of styrofoam from the landfill.

Oh, but wait. Where are the recycling bins? They must be here somewhere. Nope, none in sight. I didn’t see even one recycling bin and I was looking for one. I even asked someone from my group if she noticed any.

She shook her head.

In the end, all the containers went into the garbage bin that day. Only the people who brought their cardboard, cans or bottles home recycled.

I’ve been to enough festivals, concerts and special events all over the world to know that some places are more mindful of the waste created during these gatherings than others. Cities like Amsterdam, Berlin and Tokyo do it right. There are recycling bins everywhere and everyone seems to do their part to keep their cities clean.

Unfortunately my own city, Ottawa, just keeps missing the mark.

And I missed the mark too. I don’t usually get faced with styrofoam. I don’t usually need to buy bottled water. I don’t usually go to food festivals downtown. I don’t usually eat so much awful food.

But I did this weekend. And it won’t happen like that again.

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