Challenging our takeaway culture

Saving $ and the Environment

I was once waiting for a colleague to pick me up at a location opposite a well known drive through coffee business. During the 15 minute wait I was astonished to see the volume of traffic that snaked through the carpark into the drive-through lane and back out onto the street. The cars numbered in the dozens in this short timeframe. The sight actually left me feeling a sense of despair. It made me wonder about the lives of people who don’t have time for a cuppa before leaving the house. And if there wasn’t time to make a coffee it’s unlikely they would have made their own lunch.  Another takeaway purchase would therefore probably be required later in the day. A big issue with this is the cost! A friend once told me that she saved $50 per week when she started taking her own lunch to work and stopped buying coffees.

Most would agree that the more we work the more we spend. I wrote about this recently in my post on the work-earn-spend-waste-repeat cycle. Takeaways are one of the hidden costs of being in the paid workforce. They are often a consequence of a hectic pace of life. And the cost of takeaways is environmental as well as financial. Where do all of those disposable coffee cups, takeaway containers and packaging, straws, bottles, and cans end up? Whilst some will be recycled, much of it ends up in landfill and waterways.

One of my (many!) eccentricities is taking a plastic bag with me when I walk. My 6.7 km route crosses 3 creeks and passes 3 ponds where ducks & other water birds and the occasional turtle can be seen. The thought of discarded rubbish choking these waterways and the life in them is just so distressing. So I fill up my plastic bag with the detritus of a takeaway, throwaway culture, and keep my patch as pristine as I can. Any plastic bags I find on the way get tied to a post for next time. Occasionally, I’ll pass another walker who thanks me for picking up rubbish. I always invite them to look for my spare plastic bags along the way and join me in cleaning up. Alas, my spare bags are always there when I need an extra one…..







Wouldn’t it be terrific if everyone disposed of their rubbish thoughtfully. But it would be even better if we bought less takeaway in the first place. There will always be those days or nights when there is little in the fridge, we didn’t get to do the groceries as planned, we are a bit tired, or we simply feel like a takeaway treat. Committing to never buying takeaway is a pretty lofty aim. But can you commit to one or more of these actions, one or more days a week, to save money and help the environment?

  1. Get up a bit earlier and enjoy a cuppa before you leave for work or the school run. Or make one when you arrive at work or get back home.
  2. If a takeaway coffee is a real treat for you, always use a refillable mug. Only patronise those outlets that will accept it. Reduce the number of times per week that you buy one.
  3. Make your own lunch to take to work! Make extra for dinner and take leftovers; cook in large batches and freeze single serves; and visit Casey Jade’s beautiful blog for some great hearty salad ideas that can be made ahead of time.

Your pocket and the environment will thank you. Do leave a comment and share other ideas you have for challenging our takeaway culture.

Written by

  • Liz says:

    I have a pet hate with bottled water Joanne and a work colleague who won’t drink anything but! She doesn’t take the empty bottles home to recycle so I have put a bag for her in the office to put them in and I bring them home!

    • Jo says:

      Now that’s commitment Elizabeth! If I were her I would have felt shamed into taking them home myself by now. You’ll have to get her a refillable bottle for her birthday!

  • Barbara Law says:

    Oh! I wholeheartedly agree. The $50 saved would pay for half my weekly groceries namely fruit and vegetables as I don’t yet grow my own… Not for the want of trying Joanne, just haven’t mastered the art.
    As for the plastic bags etc. We have a well-known fast food outlet about 4 kms away from our home… Just the right distance to consume hot chips and drinks, wind down the car window, toss the rubbish out onto the nature strip at the back of our place, and carry on. Not only a danger to wildlife, it is unsightly and totally unnecessary.

    • Jo says:

      Why do they do it Barb?! There are bins everywhere in this country but it still seems too much effort for some people. Yes, $50 goes a long way at the supermarket or farmers’ markets.

  • Kathy Marris says:

    I agree whole heartedly Jo. There is far too much wastage with plastic and paper packaging in our society. This year I’ve vowed not to use plastic bags for shopping as much as I can practically. When I went to work I almost always took my own lunch and had at least had a cup of tea prior to leaving home. You can save heaps by cutting out the takeaway lunches and coffees. I used to treat myself maybe once a week. 🙂 #TeamLovinLife

    • Jo says:

      That’s a great aim Kathy to try to avoid plastic shopping bags. I keep ‘green bags’ in the car – the trick is to remember to take them in with you!

  • Jo says:

    Far far far too much wastage. I carry a refillable glass bottle with me these days as I used to be a terrible offender with the plastic bottles.

    • Jo says:

      I use the same plastic water bottle for many months Jo. It’s probably not that healthy, but I’m yet to find an eco-friendly one that is the right shape, size and texture to carry when walking.

  • I totally agree! When I injured my leg earlier this year I was unable to walk up to the local shops to buy my lunch. As a result I started making my lunch and taking it to work instead. This made me realise how much I was spending on takeaway lunches and I have now continued to bring my lunch to work more often even though walking to the shops is no longer an issue.


    • Jo says:

      Ingrid I’ll bet you never expected such a positive unintended consequence of an injury! I hope there were more of them in the midst of what sounds like quite a disabling situation.

  • So disappointing with all that rubbish. I am not big on take away like you said it’s such a waste of money. I take fruit to tie me over or pack a little sandwich if I am out and about. I have to do it for the kids so I also to myself #deepfriedfruit

    • Jo says:

      Julie you are setting such a great example for the kids. Buying takeaway when you are out with them won’t become an expectation.

  • writeofthemiddle says:

    I don’t understand how people can just toss rubbish around with no regard for the environment, wildlife or the enjoyment of surroundings by other human beings!! It’s true that when you are living that busy full-time working life you are time poor and buy more takeaway foods and drinks. I was certainly big on buying coffee!! Good on you for what you do Jo! #TeamLovinLife

    • Jo says:

      Thank you Min! Yes, it’s disappointing to see rubbish thoughtlessly tossed out of car windows. I keep looking for a big wad of cash that might get accidentally tossed out with an empty cigarette packet, but so far no luck on that one!

  • We have takeaway maybe once or twice a month? Mainly because I prefer REAL food (love my own cooking). And I always try to make enough so I have leftovers for lunch the next day 🙂

    • Jo says:

      That’s about the same frequency as us Janet. If I can easily prepare it myself it’s seems like such a waste of money to buy it. If I’m eating out I’m after something a bit special rather than regular takeaways.

  • Takeaway is a rare treat for us. We may have it once every 6-8 weeks. With two teenagers to feed, it can work out rather expensive. I’m not a coffee drinker, so that’s something I can tick off my list. It’s amazing how much you can waste on takeaway food – or save when you give it up! I work from home, so I prepare my own lunch most days. Occasionally, I meet a friend for lunch at a cafe, which is a real treat, not an everyday occurrence. #TeamLovinLife

    • Jo says:

      It’s nice once in a while isn’t it Lyndall, to meet up with friends for lunch or dinner. Though I really only want to eat things that I would not or could not make for myself at home. Yum Cha is a lunch favourite for me.

  • Our son is now working at a popular takeaway and I’m always surprised at the amount of cars in the drive thru and people inside. All times of the day. I don’t have any takeaway for myself at all. I have lunch out with friends every now and then for a sit down meal. Probably twice a month.

    I love cooking which helps and am organised enough to have meals ready. Menu planning helps a lot here.

    Home cooking is so much better too.

    • Jo says:

      It certainly does help to enjoy cooking Kylie! Menu planning is a great organisational tool to minimise the need for takeaways.

  • I’m aiming to keep up my mugs of instant coffee at home and refillable water bottle routines. I also have a tea towel at work for washing up. Saves on using billions of paper towels five times a day!

    SSG xxx

  • Agree!
    Finding rubbish while walking does my head in. I will often pick it up.
    So does finding dog poo. I pick up my dog’s poo. I wish others would do the same! I don’t go so far as to pick up theirs though,
    Sorry … went off track there … but dog poo annoys me …

    • Jo says:

      What I’ve noticed Leanne is that some people will take the trouble to bag their dog poo, and then leave the bag there! Glad to hear that you are a fellow rubbish-picker-upperer!

  • When we wanted to cut down our cost of living we did the sums on a coffee machine versus coffee from the local cafe. 10 years later the machine is still going strong and has saved us a fortune. If we are driving long distances we have our mobile mugs in the car and use them for takeaway coffees. Every little bit helps.

  • Stephenie Lawton says:

    I haven’t bought take away in ages. Have been using my car coffee mug and packing my lunch for years and years. It’s just automatic now. When I do go out with friends or family to a restaurant for a meal, it’s a huge treat.

    • Jo says:

      They are such great habits to have created Stephenie. Going out does become more a treat doesn’t it, when it’s not done often. Makes it all the more enjoyable! Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment.

I would love to hear from you!

Hello, I'm Jo. Welcome to my blog. If you enjoy my posts please subscribe!


I would love to hear from you! Please drop me a line to introduce yourself.