Skip the Stuff

Are you tired of the excessive quantities of napkins and condiment packets and plastic condiment cups that are automatically thrown in with your take-out order? Do you hate getting unnecessary plastic cutlery, straws and stirrers wrapped in more plastic? Are you tired of all the waste?

You can do something about it! Join Skip the Stuff NM campaign – it’s easy!

When you place a take-out order tell them you want to “Skip the Stuff.” Then explain which extras you don’t want such as, “no plastic forks, spoons, knives or straws” or maybe “one ketchup and one mustard only, but nothing else!”

Tell your friends and get them to Skip the Stuff too! Post your order to social media. Take a smiley selfie with your order if they did what you asked, or a frowny selfie with all the Stuff they included. Feel free to substitute emojis. Be sure to name the food establishment and tag us @skipthestuffnm #skipthestuffnm

Be patient. It will take time for take-out places to catch on. It will become easier. Take-out places will see they can save money by not ordering so much “Stuff” and you will be happier knowing you helped reduce a lot of plastic waste.

Follow us on Instagram @skipthestuff and @riograndesierraclub
The Zero Waste Action Team, and the planet, thanks you!

By Laurie Zunner

Some facts on single-use food accessories from Upstream’s National Reuse Network

  • Upstream launched the national Skip the Stuff is campaign to help food vendors reduce the waste they create with take-out production. For more information visit https://upstreamsolutions.org/skipthestufftoolkit.
  • Single-use accessories for food service are frequently provided to customers that don’t need them, resulting in unnecessary waste that is costly for local governments to manage and unnecessary cost to food service operators.
  • One trillion disposable foodware items are used in the U.S. each year, generating 9 million tons of waste.
  • Packaging is the number one market for plastics (40% of plastics go into packaging). Food packaging is propping up the fossil fuel industry at a time when cleaner cars and energy are less viable markets. Now more than ever, plastics are fueling the climate crisis.
  • The United States uses more than 36 billion disposable plastic utensils a year. Laid end to end, they could wrap around the globe 139 times.
  • Chopsticks made in China result in cutting down 4 million trees a year (45% from cottonwood, birch, and spruce and the rest bamboo). Eliminating forests, our natural carbon sink and providers of habitat and clean air, makes no sense during a climate crisis.
  • Napkins generally are made from paper that comes from trees and require significant water to produce. As an example, if 50% of the U.S. population used 3 paper napkins a day, that would total 450,000,000 napkins for 1 day, which would require 31,500,000 gallons of water to manufacture.
  • Many single-use accessories are made from plastic, and as much as 23 million metric tons of plastic waste enter the ocean each year, most of it generated in the U.S.
  • The amount of plastics in the ocean is projected to exceed the number of fish by 2030.
  • The vast majority of these single-use accessory items are problematic in the waste stream. They are not recyclable. Even when manufactured from recyclable materials, food packaging is usually too dirty to be recycled. Utensils and straws are contaminants in many recycling systems. Plant-based foodware and utensils are often considered contaminants in commercial compost facilities. Bio-plastics don’t degrade quickly enough and paper and other fibers dilute the quality of compost.
  • Restaurants spend $24 billion purchasing disposable foodware items on average in the U.S.
  • Local governments in the U.S. spend $6 billion managing the waste.
  • It is in the interest of the health, safety and welfare of all who live, work, and do business that the amount of litter on public streets, parks and in other public places be reduced and the amount of single-use accessory waste be reduced.

More information


Skip the Stuff