Paris Hates Food Waste, But It Hates Doggie Bags Even More

Parisians hate food waste, but they hate to-go bags even more

The French are notorious for many things: cheese, wine, baguettes and their utter disdain for to-go bags. Don't ask for a doggie bag at a French restaurant unless you have thick skin. ("You know, we're living in a society!")

Recent attention on food waste called this well-known stance on "le doggy bag" into question. As of January 1, a new law in France requires restaurants that serve more than 150 meals a day to take measures against wasting food.

In December, leading up to the law, the city handed out doggie bags to a handful of restaurants. Confusion immediately ensued. Would the French finally be forced to accept the uncivilized act of taking home food from a restaurant?

As Travel + Leisure clarifies, the handout wasn't meant as a requirement that restaurants give the bags to customers. "They aren't forcing the containers on anyone," T+L explains. It was merely a gesture to promote the upcoming law, which focuses on food recycling. Should a restaurant that falls under the law's jurisdiction produce more than 22,000 pounds of waste, it will receive a 75,000 euro fine if it fails to recycle. Doggie bags aren't part of the equation.

Though France has committed to fighting food waste in other ways, stooping to the doggie bag level seems to be out of the question for now. The Telegraph reports that while "75 percent of French people are not hostile to the idea of doggie bags, 70 percent have never taken leftovers home."

Catherine Down, Assistant Editor of food blog Paris by Mouth says, "It's just not part of the culture here. I don't think it even occurs to most French people to ask." Down suggests that reasonable French portion sizes may be part of the explanation, and she also points out that most people have small refrigerators, with little room for bulky takeout containers. "That said, food delivery services like Deliveroo or TakeEatEasy have exploded over the past year, so you never know!"

After telling Reuters that she couldn't see herself walking around Paris with a doggie bag—"strolling the streets" and "running errands"—a Parisian named Christelle Groleau had a good counter offer: a "refrigerated doggie bag." Touché.