UYO Use Your Own Campaign

UYO Use Your Own Campaign

UYO Use Your Own Campaign

Have you ever given some thought to how you can help reduce the amount of waste going into our landfill?  Well here is something UYO might like to consider.

The Use Your Own (UYO) Campaign encourages people to bring their own containers, cups and cutlery when ordering takeaways.  It's about moving away from a culture of throwaway, and towards reusing what we have.

Food packaging is an important factor in the food supply chain. However, it does lead to an increasingly large amount of waste that piles up in our landfill. Aluminum foil is a popular choice for takeaways in Rarotonga and if it is clean, you can ball it up and put it in the metal recycling bin.  However, more often than not it does not get recycled and ends up in the landfill.

Soon you will be able to see bright posters at participating cafes and food outlets saying they welcome UYO.  So far we have generated some interest from Bite Time, Kai Guy and The Falafel Shack to participate in this movement and others are showing interest too.

So what are the practicalities of the UYO campaign?.  Firstly, your containers need to be clean.  Second, don’t expect to get extra food just because you bring a giant container!  UYO doesn’t necessarily mean you will receive a discount either.  Remember this is all about changing our ways of doing things for our environment, not just saving money (though of course that is always nice!)!

If you’re eating out at a restaurant, also remember to UYO containers for your leftover ‘doggy bags’.

Last year we all watched as the cafes of the world weighed up the importance of reusables against fears of covid contamination from contact with reusables brought from home.  Now we see countries like New Zealand have put out excellent guidance for food vendors, based on this past experience.

The UYO campaign for the Cook Islands will provide that same guidance to our cafes and food vendors which covers things like only accepting clean containers and how to do a ‘contactless pour’ for drinks.

For reusable food containers, the approach is similar to a contactless pour.   The customer leaves their reusable container at the counter and holds onto the container lid.  The cafe server either uses tongs to put food directly into the customer’s container, or might use a separate reusable plate or bowl to help transfer the food without touching the container.  The customer puts on their own lid, smiles and goes on their way.

This UYO campaign is an extension of the Rent a Plate project funded through a GEF SGP grant given to the Cook Islands Solid Waste Management Committee (CISWMC).   The project, which is being facilitated by TIS, was designed to reduce single use plastic food containers and utensils at Punanganui markets.  This also included the Kata Kapu jars for drinks in cafes.   Because of the impacts of covid19 on tourism, we have extended the project beyond the markets, to advocate for a UYO campaign across all of the Cook Islands.

Overall, we hope that UYO will reduce the amount of takeaway packaging waste that enters our landfill and support a move away from throwaway, towards a culture of UYO and reuse.