Sometimes you just want to sit on your couch and eat your favorite Thai food while watching Arrested Development. Unfortunately, a delivery of Thai would include many plastic containers, plastic forks, napkins, menus, a brown paper bag, a plastic bag over that, and a printed receipt.Β It is important to remember that many cities, including New York City, do not actually recycle to-go containers contrary to what many think. So with a little bit of effort Β including a phone call, three mason jars, and a little walking, I had my Thai food sans waste and guilt!

The Steps to Zero Waste Take-out:

  1. Pick your restaurant
  2. Call ahead… “I want to come in and get food for pickup, is it okay if I bring my own containers?” If yes…
  3. Thank them profusely
  4. Plan what you are going to order. In my case it was two soups and some sticky rice
  5. Gather the necessary containers (3 ball jars for me)
  6. Head to the restaurant, order, and give them your containers
  7. Get your food, thank them for being so great and letting you bring containers, walk home, sit on couch, eat, laugh, ahhhhhhh



  1. It is not a violation when you provide a food establishment with properly sanitized containers. If the establishment questions the cleanliness, they simply rinse them with sanitizer before packing them with food. Thank you Lauren so much for all these tips. I am too an environmental studies student in California.

  2. There is in fact a Thai food restaurant in my neighborhood plaza ( suburbanite here); I am, of course a regular there. My partner and I always order the same thing, and always request no eggs and no fish sauce ( we are vegan). So we are pretty easy to remember.
    It always pains me to receive our food in Styrofoam and plastic. I have always been nervous to request such a service, but you make it sound so easy! Hopefully as regulars they will accommodate us!!!

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