Le Doggy Bag

Some of my earliest memories of eating in restaurants involve my Great Auntie Liz, I’m not sure if we only ate out when she was with us or if because as a child with eyes bigger than my stomach, her way of eating suited me. Great Auntie Liz always had a roll of freezer bags in her handbag for leftovers. It was great, if I couldn’t finish my meal, it’d be bagged up, put in the fridge and I’d have it for dinner that night or for lunch the next day.

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The French government has recently passed laws with the aim of reducing food wastage by 50% by 2025. They began by passing legislation forbidding supermarkets from binning unbought food. Their latest step was to pass a law on doggy bags meaning that larger dining establishments will have to provide a doggy bag or take-away box for any customer that asks for one. There is something very un-French about a doggy bag, in fact, there is no French translation for the term, “le doggy bag” is as close as it gets. A survey conducted in 2014 found that although 75% of French people were open to the idea of a doggy bag, 70% of those asked had never taken leftovers home with them.

I regularly ask to take my leftovers home with me, although for the most part I notice that other diners leave their plates half full, pay up and walk out, doggy bagless. Every restaurant I have asked in the UK for a doggy bag has been able to provide me with something to take my food away, so why don’t more people do it? A survey conducted by the Sustainable Restaurant Assocation showed that 25% of those asked said they were too embarrassed to ask for a doggy bag. A pilot scheme carried out by Zero Waste Scotland could provide the answer to this problem. In the trial, the staff in the 16 participating restaurants asked diners if they would like a doggy bag to take home their leftovers, the result was an average of a massive 42% reduction in the amount of food wastage across these restaurants. 92% of the diners surveyed who took leftovers home also ate it.

Next time you’re in a restaurant, why not ask for a doggy bag?

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