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Allie’s List: The Bagel Shack

This is the first installment of something I am calling “Allie’s List”, where I review local restaurants and businesses in terms of their “greeness”. I will look at things like food sourcing, packaging, waste, etc. I’m not saying it’s totally scientific – just one green girl’s opinion.

For my first post, I want to talk about a place called The Bagel Shack, which has three locations in Orange County – San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano and El Toro.

I stopped by the El Toro location a couple of weeks ago. After dropping my daughter off at practice early Saturday morning, I headed over to Home Depot to pick up some supplies for our weekend projects.

I was STARVING, and craving and egg and cheese bagel, when I looked across the parking lot and saw The Bagel Shack. Woo-hoo, I was so excited.

I was less excited when I walked up and saw a line out the door. But then I figured, hey, the place must be good if this many people are in line.

While I was waiting, I saw someone walk by me with a styrofoam cup. “Well, I’m not getting a drink (I already had my coffee in my reusable mug), so it’s okay.” I said to myself.

Then, another person walked by me with a styrofoam box with a bagel inside. “Well, I’m not getting it to-go so it’s okay.” I justified.

But then, one person after another after another walked by with a box of styrofoam with a bagel inside. Now I realized, THEY PUT EVERY SINGLE INDIVIDUAL BAGEL IN A STYROFOAM BOX – even for those customers who were eating in the restaurant.

By the way, styrofoam (the technical term is Polystyrene) is pretty much the worst packaging on the planet. I could go on and on about how awful it is. Here are just a few of the problems:

  • Once in the marine environment polystyrene kills marine wildlife because it mimics food but causes starvation or choking if ingested.  Polystyrene food packaging contributes disproportionally to oceanic plastic pollution.  Over 80% of this plastic pollution comes from urban litter.*
  • No polystyrene food packaging is recycled anywhere in California, although the plastic industry has attempted to recycle polystyrene transport packaging (at a cost of thousands of dollars per ton).  Most curbside recycling programs in California do not accept any polystyrene plastic resin because it contaminates recycling and is too easily accidentally littered in transportation. *
  • Polystyrene food packaging is extremely costly to local governments, some of whom are required by law to achieve “zero” trash litter in impaired waterways.  Litter clean-up costs billions, and yet is still ineffective. Polystyrene litter must be stopped at its source.*

For me, my complete ban of styrofoam started after my kids and I participated in a beach cleanup where we literally cleaned up tiny pieces of styrofoam from our local beaches for almost an entire day. And we just scratched the surface. The tiny pieces of styrofoam went on and on and on.

Right then and there, we pledged to never, ever, ever…use styrofoam again.

So there I was in line at The Bagel Shack and I was shocked – I could not believe it. I mean, how easy is it to just wrap a bagel up in some paper and send the person on their way? Really, a styrofoam box for EVERY SINGLE BAGEL? Why on earth is that necessary?

So, I did the only thing I could, I turned around and left – hungry and depressed.

And then, I found them on Twitter and sent them a quick tweet to let them know how I felt.

And now, two weeks later, they still have not answered me.

So that friends, is why The Bagel Shack – no matter how good their bagels may taste – is on the “bad” side of Allie’s List.

I wish that they weren’t because the bagels look quite tasty. But to me, nothing served in a styrofoam box, no matter how mouth-watering, is worth eating.

So Bagel Shack, please clean up your act. Start wrapping your bagels in paper (non-toxic, biodegradable, safe for food contact) and get back to me. Because those bagels really did smell so good…

* Information taken from website of Californian’s Against Waste.

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