An woman wearing a mask hands a paper takeout bag to customer.

Good Food Goes Green - How to Make Takeout Greener

by, Good Food Pittsburgh


August 25, 2020

We’re all ordering more takeout these days — not only is it a great way to support restaurants and food businesses in need during these trying times, but it’s also the safest way to enjoy restaurant-quality dishes, while still being able to practice social distancing.

But along with our takeout grain bowls and make-your-own pasta kits, takeout usually comes an excessive amount of packaging. For those of us trying to add more eco-conscious practices to our lives, we rounded up some tips for making your takeout options a little greener.

Order from restaurants within walking (or biking) distance.

Eliminate the need for a delivery driver to bring your meal to you by visiting restaurants in your neighborhood that offer direct pickup. Have a craving for a spot far from home? Make ordering and picking up a takeout a meal a treat for when you’re already out and about, so you don’t need to make a special trip.

Ask for ‘no extras.’

Tell the restaurant not to add any napkins, straws or utensils to your order. Ask for sauce and dressing to be added to each item directly (so you’ll be eliminating excess cups and lids). And, ask if there are any additional extra food items added to each meal, like bread or chips. If you don’t want it, and know you won’t eat it, tell the restaurant so they don’t add it to your to-go package.

Bring your own bag.

Even if you’re picking up your own takeout, you can’t bring your own containers to go, because food safety regulations prohibit outside containers in restaurant kitchens. But you can bring your own bag to carry the restaurant's to-go containers out with you. Just let them know when you place your order.

Bring your own to-go container… when you’re eating at the restaurant.

Though restaurants can’t place food items in outside containers for you, if you do go out to eat at a restaurant, you can bring your own container with you, and pack up your own leftovers at your table yourself.

Recycle what you can - and eliminate food waste.

Understand your local recycling regulations, and what types of plastics and paper are eligible for recycling. Know that most paper to-go cups are not able to be recycled because of plastic lining, and most to-go containers that have food residue (pizza grease, salad dressing residue, etc.), can not only contaminate the recyclable item, but also your entire load of recycling. Be sure to rinse all food particles completely out of any recycling.

Get takeout from Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurants.
Sustainable Pittsburgh is a fantastic resource with more than 100 restaurants that have been designated with high sustainability ratings. It’s a great place to check out when you’re looking to order in.


Read more at Good Food Pittsburgh, and follow #TakeOutPGH on social media for the latest Pittsburgh takeout and delivery options.