Progressive Place

Saturday, May 09, 2009

The Next Eco-Advance: First Bottles, then Bento Boxes

Perhaps you’ve seen, or ordered, a “bento box” in a Japanese restaurant. Until they were replaced by polystyrene, as here, the personal re-usable bento box was a common container for Japanese to take their lunches to work in (school children have been getting universal school lunches since after WW II.)

Here’s my vision of the next eco-advance, after using one’s own water bottle and coffee mug: the personal re-usable bento box. Initially a personal statement for trendy young econistas, the bento box will eventually be adopted by all the environmentally conscious. Rather than accept our food in disposable containers, we will insist on having it put into our own containers, from which we will eat it or take it out, to wash it at home. Initially this will conflict with municipal health regulations and vendor convenience, but those will quickly adapt to suit the changing market. To accommodate servings that are charged by weight, each container will have its tare weight embossed on the handle, and that weight will be deducted at checkout.

At purchase, those using their own containers may have to sign a release of vendor liability should they get sick from an unclean container. This has obvious risks, if the sickness might also have come from the food itself. An alternative might be for arriving customers to use a fast, automated steam sterilizer designed for that purpose.



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