When we order a pizza, there is a lot we don’t see. So today we will just think outside the (pizza) box.
It’s tough to get rid of a pizza box. We can’t recycle the greasy bottom of the box because cardboard recycling is based on water that won’t mix with oil. We could recycle the top but most people don’t and a lot of cardboard still remains when we do. Or, like Smith College, you could try out plastic reusable pizza boxes (the idea did not work).
The one solution that has potential is composting. At North Carolina State University, 16,000 greasy boxes became fertilizer because of pizza box dumpsters with massive pizza decals.
Choosing between a small or large pizza, it helps to have a tape measure. A 16-inch pizza is four times as large as an 8-inch pie but you probably pay approximately twice as much. Below, you can see the math:
And here NPR’s Planet Money compared the price per square inch to the pizza’s diameter. You can see that as the pizza gets larger, the price per square inch falls.
Most pizza boxes ruin the pizza. Because they are inappropriately vented, traditional pizza boxes soften the crust. To make it worse, as the pizza crust becomes soggy, it absorbs the taste of the paper.
According to Wired, a Mumbai businessman has solved the problem. The winner of the best pizza box award (from Scott Weiner, a pizza box expert), Vinay Mehta created a box that lets the steam exit through an escape route at the top without affecting the pizza. His innovation was a “fluted middle layer” of cardboard that sends the steam along a different route.
Our Bottom Line: The Visible and the Invisible
Sometimes in economics, what we do not see is more important than what is visible. Describing the market, Adam Smith told us to imagine the invisible hand. For trade, Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman suggested that before levying a protective tariff to save a visible industry we recognize the harm to less visible exporters and consumers.
Similarly, most of us do not see the environment, math and innovation when we order a pizza.