Waste-Free Takeout: The Best Reusable To Go Containers

Whether you’re taking home leftovers from your restaurant meal or getting your favorite food as takeout, you can avoid using disposable containers by choosing one of these easy, convenient reusable options.

Hundreds of millions of pounds of disposable takeout containers end up in landfills every year.  While some restaurants are making the crucial move away from Styrofoam and conventional plastic—offering compostable bio plastics and paper instead—these alternative products are currently very expensive and still represent an unnecessary waste of resources in their manufacture.

There are many non-toxic, durable and convenient reusable products on the market today that are designed to replace single-use takeout containers. The best choices are BPA-free, and also free of phthalates and lead.

If you drive a car, keep a few containers in the trunk, along with your reusable grocery shopping bags.  Otherwise, you can leave them by your front door so you can easily remember to take them along when you head out to eat.

Editor’s Favorite: Collapsible Silicone Food Containers

Collapsible containers are convenient, reusable alternatives to single-use takeout containers.

Why you’ll love these

  • As the name suggests, they store flat, making them the easiest to bring with you.  When not in use, they collapse to around one-third their original size for easy transport and storage.
  • Each container expands to a sturdy, full-size container with a secure, airtight lid.
  • Silicone is relatively lightweight, non toxic, BPA free, dishwasher safe, and can go in the microwave and freezer.

Check prices on collapsible silicone containers

Lock & Lock

The Lock & Lock reusable container sets feature leak proof silicone seals with a four hinge locking system that prevents leakage and keeps your food fresh.

  • BPA Free. Some containers will be BPA free, while the lids still use plastic that has BPA in it. Not Lock & Lock — the entire container and lid are BPA free.
  • A patented four hinge locking system for a secure, leak proof seal.
  • Microwave, freezer and dishwasher safe.

Check prices on Lock & Lock containers

Thermos

Thermos Food Jar’s Thermax® vacuum insulation keeps your food or drink hot or cold for hours. Its simple, classic design is a basic tool for waste-free takeout.

  • Perfect for soups, stews, curries and more.
  • The double-wall vacuum insulation keeps contents cold for up to 7 hours or hot for up to 5 hours. You’ll appreciate this if you’re not going to be eating right away.
  • The outer surface stays cool to touch when the contents are hot, and sweat-proof with cold contents
  • Some even come with their own folding spoon!

Reusable containers For liquids

Tiffin boxes

The tiffin box, a common lunchbox used in India, is an excellent way to keep your food neatly separated, and is easy to carry and clean. And tiffins definitely look coolest of all the options listed here, making them a great gift idea.

  • Made of stainless steel, tiffins are reusable and lightweight.
  • Tiffins have built in lids that double as plates. They are an elegant and functional example of how we can avoid plastic entirely.
  • Carry several different takeout dishes in a handy, neat stack.
  • Many come with an insulated carrying case.
  • Durable and easy to clean.

Top tiffin takeout containers

Bring your own cup

Next time you stop for a coffee or tea, consider that approximately 363 million pounds of disposable coffee cups end up in landfills every year in the United States alone.  Thankfully, you can easily opt out of using paper cups by bringing your own mug. This is a simple change that anyone can make without much effort or investment.

“I am not a paper cup” is a reusable porcelain cup with a silicone lid.  It’s double walled and dishwasher safe.  The Eco-Cup is another option, and is available in attractive patterns.

For cold drinks, consider the Eco Cold Drink Cup. It holds 16 ozs of your favorite iced beverage and has double-walled insulation that will keep your drink cooler longer.

Reusable mugs


To sum it up, the silicone collapsible containers get the highest marks for being the easiest and most convenient to bring with you. We love the way tiffins look, and their functionality, but collapsible containers come out on top because no matter how cool your containers look…they do you zero good if you forget to bring them. You could easily stash a set of collapsible containers pretty much anywhere…your car, your desk at work, your backpack. They’re just really convenient and practical. 

The important thing is to start today. Just start! We’ve developed the habit of single use containers. It’s so convenient to not have to think about it. It’s going to take some time to get into the habit and routine of bringing reusables…start today. You’ll be amazed at how much needless packaging you’ll avoid.

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