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Dining Sustainably in the time of Takeout

Featuring guest blogger Jessica, the owner and writer behind Project: Easy Living, an eco blog that highlights sustainable living that’s easy on the planet and easy on your budget. “I hope you love dining in Guelph as much as I do. When it comes to Guelph’s food scene, you could say I am one of their biggest flans!”

Is it possible to get fast and delectable takeout without harming the planet with nasty, non-renewable, fossil fuel based styrofoam and plastics all the while supporting your local foodie scene? Guelph says, “It’s done like dinner.”

With the City of Guelph’s Clean and Green community clean-up underway, I felt it was time to showcase those restaurants that not only are coming up with fresh, seasonal options for our devouring pleasures, but are simultaneously protecting our Earth. It’s no small task, but these joints think it’s worth far more than just bringing home the bacon.

I’ve compiled a list that not only takes the effort of cooking off your literal plate, but also supports those independent local eateries doing it up eco-friendly. Here’s what I, along with Visit Guelph, have gathered of those dishing it up in green cart-friendly or reusable containers.

Reusable or Bring Back containers:

@thewoolypub @afriendliercompany

A Friendlier Company has taken Guelph by storm and is offering bring-back containers for a small deposit of $0.50 to $1 per meal. According to their facts, 85% of the environmental impact of a takeout container comes from its production. These little blue containers can be reused up to 100 times! Currently, you can donate your deposit to buy a meal for someone in your community in partnership with The SEED and Transition Guelph.  Don’t you olive this?

Baker Street Station
Java Bean Café
Corner Market Café / Cornerstone
Lady Sara’s Bounty
The Wooly Pub
York Road Kitchen and Chocolate Bar

Paper and Green Cart-friendly:


These restaurants have containers that are paper- or cardboard-based and can be placed in your green carts, and maybe even your backyard compost heaps. “Biodegradable” or “compostable” plastics (usually made of corn) do not breakdown in time in the City of Guelph’s waste system, so they are not listed here.

Crazy Carrot
The Works
Diana’s Downtown
Osmow’s Shawarma
Infamous Eatery
• The Neigbourhood Group restaurants:
o Miijidaa Café + Bistro
o Borealis Grille & Bar
o Park Grocery Deli & Bar
o The Wooly Pub
• Most fish and chip joints like Captain Jack’s Restaurant offer their meal deals in carboard boxes

Note: Some of these places use lids made of “biodegradable plastic” that cannot go in our green bins

Eco Champions Cutting Waste:

As Guelph looks to transform to a circular food economy, businesses are thinking creatively to cut down on waste in their kitchen.

Upcycle Kitchen from The SEED takes food that would normally be wasted and ‘upcycling’ it into delicious nutrient-rich food.
Wellington Brewery takes leftover grain byproducts to local farmers.
Retour Bistro transforms garlic destined for waste into an authentic Lebanese sauce.

Waste Wizards! How we all can help

Earth Day is here, and our Mother Earth deserves (and needs) a lot of respect, so this April (and beyond) lettuce make sure to prioritize her needs and keep her clean one to-go burrito at a time. For more info on sorting your waste download the easy-to-use Guelph Waste Wizard app or search using the browser.

Save these tips on sorting your carry-out containers:

Styrofoam: Grey cart (including plastic #6)

Plastic: Nothing smaller than 2” x 2” in numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7 including bottles

Paper and paper plates: Small amounts of soiled paper takeout containers can go in the green cart. Give the paper takeout container a rip. If the paper rips cleanly, put it in your green cart. If the paper product is difficult to rip or if there is a visible plastic or metallic lining, please put in the grey cart.

Cardboard: If it is not soiled with food or grease, it can go in your blue bin

Pizza boxes: If the pizza box is heavily soiled toss in your green cart. Alternatively, put only the selected, ripped soiled bits in the green cart, and the rest of the clean box in your blue cart.

Aluminum foil: Empty and rinsed before placing in your blue cart

Take out coffee cups or soup cups: Grey cart (including lids and bases)

Compostable or biodegradable including corn-based cutlery: These are not accepted in your green cart because they do not compost in the necessary time; place in grey bin.

Guelph Tourism encourages you to #ExploreGuelph safely and shop locally. Our restaurants and small businesses need your support. See Guelph Shops for more information.

Business products and practices subject to change. If you know a place doing awesome sustainable work that should be on this list, please let us know at [email protected]