#349 Replace one-use takeout containers: The Tiffin Project

One of our kitchen cabinets

Check out the traditional tiffin containers on the top two shelves; photo by Proxy Indian, via Flickr Creative Commons

Within an hour after leaving the restaurant, all those styrofoam and cardboard takeout and leftovers containers are headed in one direction: the landfill.

That old-style thinking is on its way out, at least in Vancouver, British Columbia, thanks to The Tiffin Project. Donate $26, and you get a re-usable TO GO container. You also get a discount at participating restaurants, each time you bring your container. What’s more, $4 of the initial $26 will be used to help partner restaurants source local foods for their menus.

This project is such a fantastic idea, I’m sitting here with a big grin on my face. The Tiffin Project is brand new, but already these restaurants are involved: Curry2U, Nuba, The Noodle Box, Fable, Edible Canada, Harvest Union, The Waldorf Hotel and Tacofino. All of them have menus that make me drool.

If you’re wondering how the project got its name, read “Mahadeo’s Dream”  about the man who started a lunch catering service in Mumbai in 1880. His model is still going strong, with thousands of lunches being delivered in the distinctive metal containers.

The Tiffin Project has settled on one-layer Onyx Containers that will be branded with the project’s logo. Inspiration came from two directions. One was Hunter Moyes, chef at the Waldorf Hotel’s kitchen, who launched the project. His bottom line was being affected by having to purchase all those to-go containers. So was his eco-conscience.

He learned about Shaffeen Jamal, who had started his own tiffin service in his restaurant, Curry2U. That inspired Moyes to go for his dream and expand its vision.

The program launched July 1, 2012. If the Tiffin Project signs up 1000 members, and they all use their tiffins twice a week, 104,000 takeout containers will not end up in landfills.

What a fabulous idea. I hope they’ll be so successful restaurants all over Canada and beyond will soon be part of The Tiffin Project. Instead of all those one-use containers banging around in plastic bags, we’ll see people carrying around their tiffins.

Keep track of the project through the Web site, Facebook, and Twitter, and ask your favourite restaurants to become part of The Tiffin Project.

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About the author

Cathryn Wellner

Writer, storyteller, foodie, enviro, animal lover, photo enthusiast, traveler - opinionated but open. I wake up eager to start the day.

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2 comments
naomi Baltuck - July 3, 2012

What a great idea! Little by little we have something to celebrate. I was glad when Edmonds voted to get rid of plastic bags. Great news, and thanks for sharing it.

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    admin - July 4, 2012

    Turns out one of the Indian restaurants in Kelowna already offers meals in Tiffin containers (the traditional kind). Another friend suggests we all buy metal containers (which are available locally) and make it a habit of taking them when we eat out. Wonderful people here!

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