We congratulate ourselves on avoiding single use plastic to a very high degree. No plastic bottles, no drinking glasses, no plastic plates or utensils thanks to Throop’s 100 China plates and ragtag mix of silverware. One difficult-to-avoid concession was clamshells for berries.
Here are the challenges we faced:
Using plates means needing dishwashers.
Hiring dishwashers is a lot more costly than buying disposable plates! I am grateful to three Transitioners who volunteered to wash dishes, Sylvia, Greg and Stephen. A truly wonderful gift!
With six people total running the kitchen, we underestimated the five hours it would take to serve dinner and clean up afterwards.
Next was finding a caterer who will not use plastic.
Tender Greens was our final choice. The 0.6-mile sourcing added to the plus column. Since their salads are delivered in plastic clamshells, we only ordered hot food from them. We tossed our own salads from bagged salad mixes. This was a fail on SUP but smaller enviro-impact and far less costly. Hot food was delivered in aluminum chafing dishes. We reused them the following day to chill and transport skewered fruit to the newlyweds’ dance party. These aluminum pans came in a sleeve of thin corrugated cardboard, emblazoned with red logo. Use as lasagne mulch in the garden is debatable. Recycle is a possibility for both the pans and sleeves.
The final test was drinks on a warm summer day.
We collected 100 second-hand wine glasses, a new resource for Green Circle’s Plates for the People. One wine glass was at each place setting to be used for wine, fruity canned sparkling water, or spa water from jugs and the champagne toast. No one went thirsty for lack of having three separate glasses. Beer drinkers seemed to get their beverage of choice down without a glass.
Linens were rented, costly but responsible. Appetizers, accompanied by David Cutter’s Piano a la Carte were finger foods, no plates needed. Cookies, delivered by Karen’s Apron Strings Community Bakery in her reusable containers, were served in paper pastry bags.
A large Zero Waste event is a challenge, but attainable. It would have required more helpers to cook the food and make salads from scratch. But that’s how weddings and funerals were in days gone by. I fear my generation is the last to remember that. Do younger folks raised on convenience have a harder time envisioning another way of doing things? When I weigh the financial cost added to avoid convenient plastic it is far outweighed by the benefits of knitting community. And the feel-good for bride and groom and parent-hosts for reducing environmental impact? Priceless!