BYOB: Bring Your Own Box and Reduce Waste in Truckee

The Station takeout menu, reusable to-go box, and to-go drink

There’s a big idea in this small mountain town that’s bringing local businesses and restaurant goers together to cut down on waste destined for landfills. It’s a program launched by Keep Truckee Green that replaces single-use takeout containers with reusable to-go boxes at several restaurants in Truckee.

We all know that single-use products generate tons of waste. There are plastic bags, utensils, paper napkins, styrofoam, cardboard… It’s hard to avoid when you’re ordering takeout or bringing home leftovers. But now there’s a sustainable alternative. Instead of tossing your takeout container in the trash, several restaurants in Truckee are offering plastic to-go containers that can be used again and again. 

So what this reusable to-go container program and how does it work? We broke it down into three steps.

Step 1 – Visit a Participating Restaurant

There are currently five restaurants in Truckee participating in this program: Red Truck, The Station, Stella, Siam Cuisine, and Wild Cherries. All five have delicious eats featuring bold flavors and fresh, locally sourced ingredients for all diets. 

Step 2 – Ask for the Reusable To-Go Container

Order away and ask for your takeout or leftovers in a green reusable to-go container. There is a $5 initial cost to purchase a container but after that, it’s free to exchange. Enjoy your meal, we bet it tastes better knowing that you’re keeping single-use products out of the landfill!  You can also purchase reusable to-go containers ahead of time at Tahoe Food Hub. 

Step 3 – Rinse and Repeat

When you’re done with your food, give the container a good rinse and store somewhere easily accessible for next time. Now that you have your reusable to-go box, bring it to one of the restaurants above and they’ll exchange it for a clean one when you’re ready for another meal.

Closeup of takeout container and teriyaki bowl

The best part of this program is that it’s so easy to take part in. Each restaurant washes and sanitizes the boxes that come back to them so all you have to do is remember to bring your container with you (which I’ll admit, is not always as easy as it sounds.) 

I recently stopped by The Station and ordered the teriyaki bowl and kombucha on draft. One thing I love about this Truckee restaurant is the variety of options for restricted diets. Their menu clearly calls out what is gluten free, vegan, vegetarian, and dairy free. When I placed my order I made sure to ask for a reusable to-go box. Ten minutes later, there was my delicious meal, waiting for me in my new bright green container. 

It doesn’t matter whether you’re on vacation visiting Truckee or if you’re a longtime resident, everyone can take part in this program. If you own an Airbnb or vacation rental in Truckee, consider purchasing one of these reusable containers for your rental and leave it for guests with a guide to participating restaurants. Visitors will appreciate this special touch as they explore the local flavor of Truckee and tune into the town’s sustainability initiatives.

I chatted with Erica Mertens, the Recycling Program Manager for the Town of Truckee, to learn more about the program and why Truckee is the perfect place to implement it. “We are such a tight knit community, there is a strong sense of pride in this place,” she says. It would be harder to start something like this in a big, sprawling city. There would be challenges involved with getting everyone on board. But in Truckee, residents share a collective care and concern for the environment. “Most people here are like-minded and engaged which really lends itself well to a program like this.”

Table set with green to-go box and The Station takeout menu

What does the future look like for Truckee? This is just the beginning; the town has big dreams of expanding the single-use program beyond to-go containers, and they’re not alone. Workshops help with local businesses and the public show that this community shares a vision of becoming a leader of stewardship and sustainability with programs like this. 

So jump on board to Keep Truckee Green! Help protect our pristine mountain town by enjoying your next meal in a reusable to-go container at Red Truck, The Station, Stella, Siam Cuisine or Wild Cherries.