6 Mistakes To Learn From Before You UYO Reusables

By Ethically Kate

If you haven’t been living under a rock, you’ll know that bringing-your-own food serviceware when you’re out and about, is the hottest trend. It’s hot because the planet doesn’t hate it. It’s hot because it shows you’re a responsible adult, and it’s hot because it shows you respect other people enough not to truck up the environment they live in.

Bringing-your-own sounds simple right? Just take your own reusable items with you when you get food on-the-go. Reusable items such as cutlery, a cup, a bowl, a straw, and a container. But since BYO is a new concept to most, we’re all still getting the hang of it.

It’s definitely doable and easy peasy once you start, but like all habit changes, you can end up with a stinky handbag, a bruised ego, and an unnecessary dent in your wallet if you don’t do it thoughtfully.

Personally, I’ve experienced too many awkward situations and truck ups, that it would be selfish to stay quiet. It’s the whole ‘learn from my mistakes’ thing right? You’re welcome.

Learn from my mistakes below, because it’s easy to mess up BYO when it’s a cultural norm still in the process of becoming mainstream.

Sneaky tacos while waiting for a train in Melbourne.
Sneaky tacos while waiting for a train in Melbourne.

My mistake: Thinking ‘Oh I’ll leave my stuff at home because I won’t need it today’

Learn from me: BYO reusables everywhere.

My first mistake is the many times I’ve thought of myself as a magic fortune teller and pretended I know exactly when I’ll need my reusables. Absolute rookie mistake. I’ve forgotten my reusables so many times, and gone hungry because of it, that my stomach will not let me forget my reusables ever again.

On the days when you think you’re not going to eat while you’re out; bring your reusables. When you plan to eat in; bring your reusables. If you're not even hungry; bring your reusables. I remember the times I didn’t realise the cafe was a hole in the wall and served everything on disposable serviceware, or when I wanted to take my dinner leftovers home with me and could have really used a container.

Don’t be like me, learn from my screw ups instead.

That time I needed a bliss ball burst of energy.
That time I needed a bliss ball burst of energy.

My mistake: Not. Cleaning. It. Ew. Yuck.

Learn from me: At the end of each day, think of your reusables. Do they need a clean?

Straws that grow green stuff, aren't good. Take it from someone who has fished a green growing straw from her handbag two months after her smoothie. Making sure your reusables are clean, is a safe practice for both you and the server who fills them with beverages and kai.

Reusables require the habit change of remembering them, but also cleaning them every single time they are used. It may sound impossible, but I promise cleaning your reusables will become as ingrained in your routine as brushing your teeth.

My mistake: Not explaining WHY I use my own containers.

Learn from me: Always explain why you are using your own containers as you pass them to the wonderful human about to feed you.

Let’s pretend you just passed over your reusable cup to the server for a delicious milkshake. You watch as they make the milkshake in a disposable cup, stir it with a disposable plastic stirrer, pour it into your cup, and hand it over. It hurts, right?

Over the past few years, I have started explaining why I am handing the server my reusables, to ensure they don’t perform this kind of ludicrousy. The words I say always change, depending on the person and situation, however I often sound like this:

“Could you please put that straight into my own container? I am trying to reduce the amount of waste I consume, so please use this and avoid any other waste that you usually use. Thanks a million.”

You’ll be surprised (or not so surprised) at how many interesting conversations begin at this point too. You'll provoke change at the hospitality joint itself, and in the people standing in line behind you. Not only will this move ensure you are reducing your own waste, but you're becoming a low key community influencer too... go you.

My mistake: Not having enough reusables for my husband and friends.

Learn from me: Carry extras with you if you can.

Like I said, reusables are hot. With this in mind, when you whip out your reusables in front of other people, chances are they are going to be jealous. If you have the space and capacity, bring another spork or cup with you when you go out with other people. Don’t force a habit on them that they haven’t yet chosen, but kindly asking if they want to borrow your reusables is a gentle and kind gesture.

My mistake: Thinking I needed to buy all the fancy things.

Learn from me: Use what you have, invest if you need to, but think simple.

Repeat after me... I do not need to buy that new beautiful thing. I do not need to buy that new beautiful thing. I do not need to buy that new beautiful thing.

While I will not stop you from actually buying that new beautiful thing (treating yourself can be a tactic to remembering your reusables!), I want you to feel comfortable with bringing your own cutlery from home, pouring your coffee into a jar, or bringing your own ice cream container to grab takeaways.

If you do want to invest in reusables, use the handy UYO guides here. If you need more convincing to slow down on eco product consumption, read this

My mistake: Leaving my reusables at hospitality joints.

Learn from me: Always count your reusables before you leave.

It is nearly three years to this day, since the death of my first reusable metal straw. Even though I rang the restaurant (twice) to request that they rummage through their rubbish bin for my metal waste combatting tool, I was unable to save it.

Especially when it comes to things like straws, reusables are easily left behind when you’re in your early days of using them. Before you leave the place you are eating, whether it be a park bench or a table, count your precious reusables.

Sorbet on the beach.
Sorbet on the beach.
Bringing-your-own is an important planet saving habit to take up. I’ve been on the BYO bandwagon since 2017, and I will never jump off it. I don't want you to either.

So, take these mistakes, feel free to have a giggle, and then learn from them!

Happy BYO-ing.