Buying take-aways, we often end up with more packaging than food: a bunch of plastic boxes, plastic lids and plastic forks, handed over in a plastic bag. They are convenient, but it’s hard to think of a meal that creates such a huge amount of instant and unnecessary waste. A team from Berlin may have found a solution to this modern-day problem, by putting a new twist on an old school tradition.
“Just taste, no waste”. That’s the tag-line of the The Tiffin Project, an initiative that has developed a way for people to enjoy take-aways without all the problematic packaging. The system works like this: The restaurants who join the scheme receive a delivery of tiffin boxes. When customers order food to take away, they can choose to take it away in one of the boxes, rather than the customary plastic packaging. They then have time to return the box to the same place, or at one of the other participating restaurants. The tins are more robust than disposable packaging, and keep food warm for several hours. They also have a built in handle, meaning everything stays upright, and you can say no to the plastic bag. And let’s face it, receiving your dinner in a polystyrene box was never that appetizing in the first place.
It’s such a simple idea, it’s seems surprising that nobody came up with it before. In fact, a similar system has been around for over a hundred years: the inventor was inspired by the iconic tiffin boxes of India that have been used in the country for over a century. The silver-coloured tiffin tins are a familiar sight on the streets of Mumbai at lunchtimes, as thousands of skilled dabbawallahs swarm through the streets, bringing packed lunches to an estimated 200,000 people every day. Rather than going out to buy food, people receive their lunch in containers just like this, often home-cooked meals, delivered right into their offices. The system is practical, amazingly efficient, and environmentally-friendly too.
The boxes manufactured for The Tiffin Project are made under fair conditions, by a family business based in India. All workers receive fare pay, above that of the official minimum wage, and no child labour was used. So it looks like they’ve got it all covered: the product is environmentally-friendly, sustainably produced, long-lasting, practical and it looks pretty cool too. The only problem is, it doesn’t actually exist yet. The developers are hoping to get the project funded this week, and use that money to roll out the system to the first ten 10 restaurants in Berlin. The last time I looked, the fundraising campaign was doing well, but the target hadn’t yet been reached and the clock was ticking. Be sure to visit their official crowdfunding page and give their campaign a last minute boost!