The Environmental Cost of Disposable Takeaway-Food Containers

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The Environmental Cost of Disposable Takeaway-Food Containers

Fast food and drinks are being put into disposable containers to be brought home as a take out but there is an environmental impact on these containers / Photo by: BOONJAEM via Shutterstock

 

For most people who are in a hurry and hungry, they mostly rely on cheap and delicious meals that they often get from fast food chains. Although the kinds of foods that they offer have been proven detrimental to a person's health, people would get the urge to go to the nearest drive-through and order burger, large fries, and a cup of coke. In fact, the Pew Research Center reported that there are 50 million people in the United States alone who eats fast food every day. 

According to Toast Restaurant, the consumption rate of fast food hasn't changed for the past 15 years. Although previous studies have shown the significance of eating "clean food," 34% of children between ages two and 19 consume fast food on a daily basis. Additionally, this kind of food is worth 37% of a person's daily calorie intake. It makes up 42.6% of your carb intake for the day, 33.6% of daily fat, and 15.4% of daily protein. These figures show that meals people get from fast food chains will not provide them with the energy they need for the rest of the day. 

Health Risks From Eating Fast Food

From just 37% spent on fast food in 1977, the average American family now spends half of their budget on restaurant food. Although occasional night of fast food won't hurt, regularly eating can seriously damage a person's health. The kinds of foods we get from fast food chains provide low nutritional value, high-fat, calorie, and sodium content that can cause a variety of health problems. These can also lead to weight gain, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular conditions, and all-cause mortality. 

According to Healthline, most of the meals that people get from fast food chains are loaded with carbohydrates with little to no fiber. This can potentially increase a person's blood sugar because of the carbs released as glucose into their bloodstream. Our pancreas responds to the surge in glucose by releasing insulin. This blood sugar process is important and should be highly regulated by our body to make sure our organs can properly handle sugar spikes. However, if this process is not properly maintained due to frequently eating high amounts of carbs, it might increase the risk of insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and weight gain.

Fast food meals also provide little nutrition and extra calories which can be dangerous to someone's health as the American Heart Association (AHA) suggested that a person should only be eating 100 to 150 calories of added sugar every day. A 12-ounce can of soda is equal to 140 calories, 39 grams of sugar, and nothing else. Additionally, trans fat that people can get from fried pies, pastries, pizza dough, crackers, and cookies can increase a person's risk of having type 2 diabetes, heart disease, LDL (bad cholesterol), and even lower HDL (good cholesterol). 

Most people would prefer fast food meals because it's tastier compared to other foods because it contains a combination of fat, sugar, and lots of sodium (salt). However, too much intake of sodium can cause water retention, which can make a person feel puffy, bloated, or swollen after eating fast food. It can elevate blood pressure and upset the heart and cardiovascular system. But previous studies showed that 90% of adults underestimate how much sodium is in their fast-food meals. The AHA recommends that adults should only eat no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. 

These facts and figures show that more people are becoming at risk of obesity. In fact, more than two in three adults in the United States are considered obese or overweight. Reports have shown that the number of obese Americans has more than doubled since 1970 as the number of fast food restaurants in America has also been doubled. 

Fast foods are having more carbohydrates and fats and little nutrition that can affect the health of a person badly / Photo by: Alena Haurylik via Shutterstock

 

Environmental Impacts of Fast Food

Fast food has been proven detrimental to a person's health as it contains harmful chemical additives such as sodium, calories, preservatives, and many more. However, it turns out it can also be dangerous to our environment. According to an article by the Planet Matters, it’s not just the chemicals in fast food that affect the environment but the whole chain of production. It has negative impacts on the environment that contribute to the worsening of global warming. Since fast food chains tend to use a lot of packaging, there has been an overuse of straws, bags, plastic, wrappers and many more. 

In a recent study conducted by the researchers from the University of Manchester, they have estimated that there are 2025 million takeaway containers per year being used in the European Union (EU) alone. The study also suggested that finding ways to recycle these materials can potentially reduce equivalent greenhouse gas emissions generated by 55,000 cars every year. 

According to the Science Daily, the researchers have come up with the first-ever comprehensive study of the environmental impacts of disposable takeaway-food containers in which they looked at polystyrene (styrofoam), aluminum, and polypropylene (clear plastic) containers. They found out that although styrofoam containers have the lowest carbon footprint, they can't be considered a sustainable packaging since they are not recycled at a mass level and often end up in a landfill. In an interview, lead author Dr. Alejandro Gallego-Schmid explained, "Achieving this level of recycling of styrofoam containers is going to be challenging. Although technically possible and practiced at a small scale in some countries, the main difficulties are related to collecting the used containers and the associated costs."

Most fast food containers are made of non-biodegradable materials like styrofoam / Photo by: aopsan via Shutterstock

 

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