Ithaca / Finger Lakes Reduces | BYO Program

BYO – Ithaca Reduces program is our top program.

We simply ask local businesses to put our Reduces stickers on to let their customers know they welcome BYO (Bring Your Own containers, cups, utensils, bags, etc.) to reduce use of single-use disposables.

It’s a win-win-win proposal. It costs nothing to consumers; we help our local businesses save money from purchase of disposables and trash removal; and we help reduce single-use disposables wreaking havoc on the planet.

Over 100 local businesses and festivals participate in our Reduces program as of March 23, 2023. See the map and list of participants.

We work with NYS legislators to make a real BYO law a reality in New York. Please read “BYO – The Right to Refill” featured on the newsletter of Susquehanna Sierra Club to learn about the newly launched national BYO-US Reduces network and NYS legislative works for a new BYO law, published on March 6, 2023.

For more about BYO – Ithaca / Finger Lakes Reduces program, please check the link.

Our BYO Reduces program is sponsored by Sustainable Finger Lakes neighborhood mini-grant and Park Foundation.

We have many other programs going on with our group. Please read about them here.

BYO | US Reduces Network

Zero Waste Ithaca is a strong part of a nation-wide movement!

Together with friends around the country, we launched the BYO | US Reduces Network for support and advocacy of the cause of BYO in the US, on February 10, 2023.

Check out the new website at to see many Ithaca photos being featured.

And read Zero-Waste Chef’s blog post about how the network came to be: How to Normalize BYO Containers in the US.

Who We Are

The mission of the group is to promote Zero Waste policies and culture, toward prosperity without growth.

Our long-term goal is to make Ithaca / Tompkins a Zero Waste City or Municipality. See Zero Waste City Masterplan from GAIA (Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives). Please read an op-ed, “Make Ithaca a Zero Waste City” written by our member for Ithaca Times’ Readers’ Write issue themed “My Big Idea,” published on January 11, 2023.

In addition to policy works, we also enjoy socializing and making friends through zero waste activities such as: trash pickups, dumpster observations, gift economy exchanges in Buy Nothing groups, gardening, fixing, mending and sharing everyday zero waste hacks in online forums.

We think Zero Waste is not only a serious climate justice goal, but also it is a way to bring all kinds of people together for the right purposes to build communities.

Our current flagship program is BYO (Bring Your Own) – Ithaca Reduces program where we ask businesses to display our member-designed sticker to indicate that they welcome BYO containers by customers. As of March 26, 2023, we have signed up over 100 businesses and local organizations in the program. We advocate for a true BYO law to be enacted in NYS legislature. Our program is a part of the larger North American BYO support network, US Reduces and Canada Reduces.

Read more about us in About.

The local outfitter Paddle-N-More is a participant of the Ithaca / Finger Lakes Reduces program and generously lets us use their watercrafts for our trash pick up events, and also teach their summer camp students the importance of keeping our waterways clean. Thank you, Paddle-N-More, for being such a a wonderful part of the community!

Beautiful photos from kayak and other trash pickups around our website are courtesy of a local farmer/photographer RM. Thanks so much!

Zero Waste Ithaca is a proud GAIA member. GAIA is a worldwide alliance of more than 800 grassroots groups, non-governmental organizations, and individuals in over 90 countries. We envision a just, zero waste world built on respect for ecological limits and community rights, where people are free from the burden of toxic pollution, and resources are sustainably conserved, not burned or dumped. 

Zero Waste Ithaca are an official Beyond Plastics affiliate. Beyond Plastics is a nationwide project based at Bennington College in Bennington, Vermont. Its mission is to end plastic pollution by being a catalyst for change at every level of our society.

We are a part of National ReUse Network and Reusable Community Coalitions by Upstream. Upstream was founded in 2003 as a public-interest, non-profit organization by a group of Zero Waste activists in the US and Canada working on upstream solutions such as reusables initiatives. Upstream helped create #BreakFreeFromPlastic, an international movement.

On January 27, 2022, we co-hosted our first webinar on single-use plastics, with support from our friends from Zero Waste Warren County, with over 300 registrants from around the world. We had incredible guests from Toronto, Berkeley and Silicon Valley. Thank you for your support!

Hierarchy of Rs - Recycling is the last resort.  The photo courtesy of @refillworthing on instagram.

Zero Waste Ithaca is fiscally sponsored by NOPI – Nonprofit Incubator, a program of NOPI INC, a Massachusetts nonprofit corporation and 501(c)(3) organization, EIN 81-5089505. Learn more at

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