What to Ware
updated: Sep 07, 2013, 12:00 PM
By Kelley Skumautz
Around Town Asides - Local Finds For Those With Refill In Mind
Armed with reused containers and bags, I scour the greater Santa Barbara area for opportunities where
bringing your own is not taboo.
The creation of my DIY version of To-Go Ware came
many years ago after Andy Lipkis of TreePeople whipped
out a set of portable bamboo utensils at an outdoor picnic. Observation of his spoon and fork warned
me that their shape and size were not ergonomically suited for my needs, so I chose to forego
purchasing a set of my own. But I soon realized that I could readily put together a collection of my own.
What I carry around now ain't pretty, but it comes in handy for spontaneous food forays.
After making sure I had utensils in my purse at all times, I graduated to toting around reused carryout
containers. I now have them in my car, which makes it easy to say no to single-use doggie bags when
on the road and out to eat. Remembering to bring along my own containers is still a challenge when
dining close by as I often walk or bike, which requires me to plan ahead before leaving the house. It
means a lot to me, too, that this sensibility is catching on - a friend I lunched with last week called my
receptacle "smart," and my husband has jumped on the bandwagon and has his own version of to-go
ware in the trunk of his car.
Certain places have outright appreciated that I bring my own vessel for leftovers; notably among them is
Uncle Chen's in Carpinteria. When I tried out Xanadu Bakery in Montecito they were none the wiser when
I packed up the remains of their delicious and chock-full-of-spinach quiche. Unfortunately, things were
not so seamless when Peter and I hit Yogurtland on State Street for dessert to enjoy during the showing
of Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train in the sunken garden at Santa Barbara's courthouse (a picturesque
though slightly chilly experience which I highly recommend).
Yogurt obviously had been in high demand that evening because the topping station was messy and
gross. We walked up to the checkout person and asked her to weigh our containers to which she said
she could not deduct the weight from the final tally. OK, it's a price I am willing to pay in the name of
not throwing things away.
So we loaded up and were ready to cash out when we were informed that it is unsanitary to allow
customers to use their own cups. Thankfully the Yogurtland employees did not refuse our purchase,
neither were they able to explain the compliance issues regarding how bringing one's own container is
more unhygienic than using one's own spoon, or having the unclean hands of hundreds of people
fondle the chocolate nib ladle, among countless other public health risk factors. We scurried away with
fro-yo in hand and decided to investigate further at another time. Here is what I have turned up since:
• A copy of California
Assembly Bill 1978 that addresses restaurant health code compliance issues where personal to-go
ware is not cited as a no-go;
• The manager of Carpinteria's Yo Yum Yum assured me that it is not against company policy for
customers to bring in their own cups - yeehaw, there's where you'll find me!
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Kelley Skumautz is the owner of Refill to You a home
and small business delivery service which replenishes products for the kitchen, bath, and laundry. She
also writes a weekly blog about simplicity, sustainability,
community & commodity.
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