Laura Hayes

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Chicken + Whiskey is pretty much perfect, except for one problem. It’s not the expertly fried yucca dusted with chili and lime, the juicy rotisserie chicken, the major chef that created the menu, or the ample whiskey selection hidden in a secret back bar. The problem is plastic. 

Even when you dine in at the new fast casual restaurant on 14th Street NW, the sides are plopped down on your tray in plastic containers. Why not stack the yucca on the tray like stubby Pick Up Sticks? Ladle a giant scoop of Shrek-colored guasacaca right on there? 

Maybe the owners haven’t seen the VICE piece on the island of garbage floating in the Pacific Ocean that’s the size of Texas? Specifically, there are 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris currently in our salty waters, according to National Geographic

And the problem is getting worse. Over the past 10 years, the world has produced more plastic waste than throughout the entire last century, according to EcoWatch. The organization also points out that 50 percent of the plastic we use is only used once before it’s discarded. 

When asked why they plate in plastic, Chicken + Whiskey co-owner Des Reilly says, “We wanted to give people the option to take food with them if they change their minds while eating or if they run out of time or can’t finish.”

As the fast-casual sector of the restaurant industry continues to gain ground locally and nationally, these quick-bite options don’t have to contribute to the world’s plastic problem. 

Sweetgreen, for example, uses biodegradable packaging and utensils that are made out of a special cornstarch-based plastic, and CAVA is similarly composting. For both chains, their bowls, cutlery, cups, napkins, and more are earth-friendly.

Perhaps it takes the critical mass of several locations to devote resources to using biodegradable materials, but choosing not to serve dine-in food in tupperware seems like a plausible option to implement now.

Chicken & Whiskey, 1738 14th St. NW; (202) 667-2456; chickenandwhiskey.com