Eating at the airport

Eating with zero waste at the airport can be tricky, but it’s possible if you bring a reusable container. I recently flew to New York City and, as usual, brought my zero waste kit.

On my way to New York City, I brought a bagel from home instead of buying breakfast at the airport. This simple gesture saved a foil wrapper, paper napkin, bag and receipt—not to mention a few dollars! 😆

After I finished breakfast, I gave it a quick wash and put it back in my zero waste travel kit 🙂 This reusable container came in handy during the rest of my trip when I needed to buy food on the go (like breakfast the next morning).

It’s harder to bring your own meals for the return trip. When you don’t have time to dine in, choose fast food restaurants where the people taking the order are the same people preparing the food. It makes it much easier to get your meal package-free 😉 It’s also a great excuse to strike up a conversation 😊

I got this breakfast sandwich in my reusable container, though the employees were in disbelief that I could avoid trash for even a day 😆 “But it’s everywhere!” the employee said. “I manage,” I replied with a smile before thanking them. The other customers waiting in line got their sandwiches wrapped in foil paper, placed in styrofoam containers and packed in paper bags 🙁 Maybe our brief interaction opened one person’s eyes to the wastefulness of our disposable culture and showed other travelers how easy it can be to avoid waste …

Tiny Trash Can zero waste airport food

Later, when I bought a sandwich for dinner, this helpful woman happily complied and even sliced my sandwich to fit perfectly! 😁

Tiny Trash Can zero waste airport food

I find I have the best luck getting my to-go food package-free when I don’t ask employees if they can put it in my container because it opens up the possibility of them saying no. Instead, I simply tell them when ordering that “I’d like [insert food item] in this container” and place the container on the counter. If you show the container when ordering and before you pay, you maintain the upper hand and can leave if they don’t want to comply with your request 😉

2 thoughts on “Eating at the airport”

  1. I love these ideas! Just brings up a question. Do you bring dish soap and a wash cloth with you as well? How do you handle clean up in the road? Especially if you have to reuse the same container again.

    1. Hi! I usually only eat one meal out when I travel, so I don’t have to wash my container until I get to where I’m staying. If I know I’ll be eating two meals out, I’ll bring two containers that next inside of each other so they take up less space. If I have to wash on the go (say, in a public restroom), I bring a travel size bottle of castille soap and a washcloth. My reusable bottle generally starts off with coffee then I refill with water later in the day. I just give a quick rinse before filling with water, then wash it “for real” in the evening. Hope this helps!

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