Ithaca / Finger Lakes Reduces | BYO Program

Why do we ask Ithacans to Reuse and Bring Your Own (BYO)?

We do so because plastics are climate and public health crisis, and it is also an issue of justice. Please read more about it here.

The Ithaca / Finger Lakes Reduces program helps raise the community awareness about single-use plastics by helping to make BYO (Bring Your Own) our new cultural norm.

How It Works

The idea is simple. Businesses that accept BYO containers put our sticker on their window, letting their customers know they can shop with their own containers, hassle-free. We also list the businesses here.

Find Business

Looking for a local café, restaurant or bulk store that allows you to use your own containers? View the list and map here. If you know of a BYO business that you don’t see listed, please contact us.

Get Involved

Ithaca / Finger Lakes Reduces needs you! Individuals can help us add more businesses to our listings and get the word out. Businesses can get involved by contacting us. We would love to have you on board!

We simply ask local food establishments to place our green sticker at their storefront, letting them know they welcome BYO – and that the customers can bring their own clean reusable cups, containers and utensils to use and fill.

Businesses will save money and reduce their reliance of the amount of single-use disposable foodware. Please see the saving calculation from California’s ReThink Disposable.

BYO is a complete Win-Win both for small businesses and for the environment! 👍


Not sure if BYO is allowed by Tompkins County Health Department? – Yes! We have a letter of clarification from them.

Have doubts about safety of BYO practice? – Have no fear! BYO is very safe under proper hygiene protocols. In California, and many other places around the globe, reusables at all food establishments are allowed by law. Southern Australia even removed liability from retailers from BYO practice in July 2022. Learn more about safety of reusables.

Want to help but not sure where to start? – Find our two pdf flyers for community and businesses to share with your friends and favorite businesses.

Are you interested in talking to businesses in small hamlets outside Ithaca? – We have Finger Lakes Reduces sticker!

Know of a great local business doing a lot for the environment? – We can honor them with Circular Economy sticker! Check out our 6 Reduces stickers!

What sort of container is acceptable to businesses?
Clean reusable containers that are proportional to the size of your order. You can look through your kitchen cabinets and you will likely find one. It’s up to the discretion of each business and they can refuse the containers if they don’t meet their standard of cleanliness upon visual inspection.  

Where can I get these containers?
We do not expect you to purchase new containers. Rethink, reduce, reuse! Tupperwares, jars, etc. in your kitchen cabinets with lids are fine, as long as they are washed and clean.

How do I get a container to a business if I am ordering online?
This depends on the business, but it will be generally difficult for businesses to accept BYO on phone and online orders. We assume customers go to the restaurant locations with their containers and wait while they prepare foods and fill your containers.  We would like you to have conversations and build relationships with small local restaurants through BYO. 

More questions? Please get in touch!

Our Ithaca / Finger Lakes programs are inspired by the Canada Reduces program, and we are a proud member of the North American Reduces network. Please learn more about it here.

Want to start a Reduces group in your area but don’t know where to start? Check How to start a group section on the Canada Reduces website.

If you are in the US, please also get in touch with us at, as Zero Waste Ithaca is actively involved in building the US Reduces network.

Our hope is to have a wash-and-delivery eco-system (aka DRS, deposit return system) in place across the Ithaca area where small businesses with no dishwashers on site can participate in offering their customers returnable deposit containers. We consider our Reduces program as the first step toward that goal!

Our Ithaca and Finger Lakes Reduces program is funded by Sustainable Finger Lakes neighborhood mini-grant.

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