Doggy Bags Becoming Popular in Japan, But Are They a Good Idea?

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This fall, a small number of restaurants in Japan have introduced Doggy Bags for leftovers, as customers tend to not eat everything they order. The design has reminders about poverty and wastefulness. For example, one says "6 seconds" on it, which refers to the fact that one child dies every six seconds on this planet due to malnutrition. The Doggy Bag idea of course comes from the United States. But I'm not really sure this is such a good idea:Traditionally, some Japanese restaurants would kindly offer you a folded box to bring home left-overs in, so that you could share some of what you enjoyed from their menu with your family. It was never a way to justify ordering huge portions or extravagance. Now, it seems the American idea may slowly be catching on. According to statistics quoted by NHK, Japanese people leave only about 3% of the food they order when they eat out, while at special occasions, such as wedding ceremonies, that figure can reach 40%.

Would you really solve world hunger by giving your dog the left-overs? Of course not. I have no idea how people really think. It seems better to order less food (and pay less) than to overdo it at the restaurant. Poor dogs, should they really be eating the kind of fare people tend to get at restaurants anyway?

The Japanese Doggy Bag box is made of plastic, and can be washed and used again; customers are supposed to bring their own bag -- not expect the restaurant to provide it for them -- and I like that. It costs about $8.

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However, one website where you can order them features a photo of African kids with text explaining the global food crisis.

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Another shopping website has a focus on mottainai, or wastefulness, and an original "3R+R" design (Reuse, Reduce, Recycle & Respect). It remains to be seen if this marketing tactic works or not.

As for the ethics of eating too much while others are starving, we still have a very long way to go.

Written by Martin Frid at

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