Single-use is a nightmare and everyone loves it

By ayr September 14, 2019

There was a big article recently about Sweetgreen, Chipotle, Dig (formerly Dig Inn) calling out their bowls as containing “forever chemicals” and cancer causing agents. Scary stuff. And it has me thinking twice when I eat out.

Naturally questions came our way about our packaging. I didn’t know the answer so we reached out to our packaging suppliers. They said we’re clear. Do I believe them? Not really.

Clover was the first restaurant in the country to go with 100% compostable packaging. Back in 2010. Since then many others have added compostable packaging, some have followed us and gone 100% compostable. The idea is that everything we hand to you in our restaurants can stay out of landfill. We also work hard to minimize packaging. Photo shows all that remained after I ate a Clover sandwich. Go butcher paper!!!

But I’m the first to tell you the truth. It’s all terrible. Recyclable packaging? That 100% compostable packaging? It’s all a nightmare. Single use looks terrible when you follow it downstream. Compostables less than others, but still not a great story. We’ve built a society that LOVES single use packaging. But don’t feel good about recyclable plastic. Studies show that 91% of plastic is not recycled.

People didn’t used to live this way. It doesn’t seem right. But I have no idea what to do about it. When we’ve tried in the past to move people to re-usables it hasn’t worked at all. Zero. People just don’t buy. And the bowl trend is terrible for this. The amount of packaging in a single “bowl” meal is many times (maybe up to 7-8x) the material in a sandwich. Bread is after all the OG edible packaging.

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