Kendra Schneider doesn't let challenges stand in her way. Once upon a time, she decided, "on a whim," she says, that she needed to study in Rome. She arrived at AUR with her young daughter in tow "without knowing anything or anyone..." and hasn't looked back since. That daughter is now on the verge of becoming a teenager, while Kendra is rapidly reinventing herself as a solopreneur through her new business, Takeout Takeout.
A sustainable living advocate, Kendra is also a hardworking single mom and a realist. Sustainable living isn't easy and can often be seen as inaccessible. Kendra told us, "Takeout Takeout basically started to form during the Covid lockdowns. I got into documentaries like 'Down to Earth' and 'A Plastic Ocean.' I was inspired and challenged myself to see if I could grocery shop and not buy anything packaged. I quickly learned that while it's doable, it's a big commitment in time, preparation, and learning new habits."
"My hometown in Michigan is definitely not known for going green, other than rooting for Michigan State during game day; you either have to drive roughly 4 miles to recycle items, pay to have recycling pickup, or try DIY composting - not a realistic option for most people in the city unless they have home gardens."
Kendra's search for sustainable packaging led her to more in-depth research on the topic. "Most of us are aware of the evolution of the packed lunch." she states, "That’s because consumer trends indicate that more than half of the population consider sustainable packaging when selecting a product. I fall into that category, but even though I do my best to reduce my carbon footprint, I still struggle - and, when I’m tired, I do what so many of us do, I order takeout. However, while I love having that easy option after a long day, I began to feel like I was trading the chore of cooking for the chore (and guilt) of dealing with the packaging."
Sustainable packing became Kendra's new challenge; the solution was Takeout Takeout. Kendra decided that, as nobody else was doing it, she would produce reusable food containers for local restaurants and food suppliers. "Takeout Takeout is basically my attempt to make sustainable living accessible to everyone. Not just to the people who have the time and energy or who can afford to buy green products. It's meeting people where they are on their journey. It's also a way to support local small businesses. By using reusable to-go food containers, they save money, and by regionalizing our services, we quickly fix any supply chain problems." Starting with just thirteen reusable salad containers and thirteen reusable soup containers, Kendra partnered with another local entrepreneur who cooks and delivers meals once a week. Two months later and she'd added two other local business partners to help with collection and roughly 400 items had been saved from landfill.
The Takeout Takeout system is simple. When a customer orders food, they can select to use Kendra's reusable packing. After use, the customer is asked to simply give the packaging a rinse and then leave it on their porch. When their next delivery is made, the old packaging is collected, returned, and professionally sanitized - ready for its subsequent use. Takeout Takeout even goes further, offering a pickup service for the containers (if the customer is not a regular takeout eater) and a drop-off service at a local taproom. Kendra emphasized, "It's about making it easy, convenient, and accessible to EVERYONE. We're here to help them do one green thing - to take the trash out of their takeout.
Of course, it's not all as simple as it sounds... "My main hurdle," Kendra told us, "is that Michigan hasn't adopted an updated FDA Food Code since 2009. Under those regulations, reusable food containers that are not customer owned are not allowed. So, I've been working with city developers, the local health department, and government officials to get the laws updated. I've done a few local community events to raise awareness, and I've met Michigan Senator Sarah Anthony to speak about the problem. I'm also working on planning a zero-waste event to showcase sustainable solutions that are currently available in Michigan that people may not know about."
If you'd like to keep up with Kendra's progress (and give her a shout-out in support), you can follow her on Instagram @Takeout.Takeout.MI and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Takeout.Takeout.MI or visit her website at https://www.takeouttakeoutmi.com/