How often do you bring take out food home, only to throw away the plastic utensils (and the plastic the plastic utensils were wrapped in), paper napkins, little packets of salt, pepper and ketchup, and other “extras” that come with your food. You’ve got all that at home, and chances are you’d rather eat with a real fork than a plastic one, right?

One program, Eco-to-Go, is working to eliminate the unnecessary waste associated take out meals. Here’s how it works.

  • Restaurants sign up to participate in the Eco-to-Go program.
  • They advertise that they are participating in this program to their customers and let them know their to-go orders can be packed with no extras.
  • When customers order their food from participating restaurants they order it “eco-to-go” and no extras will be placed in their bag.
Over 35 restaurants, most of them in the NYC area, have already signed up to particpate in this program.

The program is free to restaurants, and those participating can get stickers to place in their restaurant and other information by contacting

According to Eco-to-Go’s website “the U.S. population tosses out enough paper & plastic cups, forks and spoons every year to circle the equator 300 times.” That’s outrageous. This program will help keep a lot of those items from being tossed.

If you have a favorite restaurant you order take out from, you should let them know about the Eco-to-Go program. Even if they choose not to participate, you can still choose not to have them include the extras with your order. When you order, just tell them “no napkins or utensils, please, just the food.” 

Image: yummiec00kies

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Making take out more eco-friendly
Eco-to-Go helps customers say "No thank you" to wasteful packaging with their to-go orders.