I am planning to do a proper wrap-up on Friday about the BlogHer Conference I attended in San Diego. For now, I will tell you that it was a really amazing experience, and I am still smiling to think about it. But I want to do it justice, and since it’s currently 11:22pm anything I write at the moment would be decidedly, erm, unjust? That doesn’t sound right, but hopefully you get the drift.
What I wanted to talk about today was the one glaring low point for me at BlogHer, which irks my hippie mama soul: disposable dinnerware. The San Diego Convention Center, where BlogHer was held, served all of its food and beverages on disposable dishes. The plates were made of type six plastic, or polystyrene, and were quite heavy so at first I thought they might actually be washing them. However, I observed the servers throwing them directly into the garbage, so that clearly wasn’t happening. Polystyrene is not typically recycled, and so if the dishes aren’t reused, they’re going to the landfill.
I decided to do a little bit of digging, and I found this info on the convention center’s website:
All food and beverage events … with the exception of plated meals, are accompanied by high-grade disposable ware.
They do go on to mention that if it’s absolutely necessary you can have food served on china for an additional fee. All the same, the disposables seem to stand in direct opposition to their snazzy YouTube video about their environmental practices:
On Friday I ate lunch with my fellow Green Moms. I sat beside my friend Beth Terry, who strives to live a plastic-free life. The plastic plates presented a definite conundrum for her, and she was not happy about it.
Beth decided to keep her plate and wash it between meals. I decided to join her in solidarity. I started by joining the “clean plate club” and finished all the food I’d taken at lunch.
I was carrying a very small purse at BlogHer, as my statement that I was child-free and therefore didn’t need a big bag to lug stuff. Needless to say, the plate did not fit in that purse. So my first stop was my hotel room to find a larger bag and to wash my plate. I used the baking soda I had on hand to wash my hair with.
I kept the plate throughout the weekend, and eventually added a bowl, too. I’ll admit that I felt a little awkward, pulling my dishes out of my bag and washing them in the convention center bathroom. Nobody said a word to me, but I was behaving differently from everyone around me and that caused me some social anxiety. I think it was a good experience for that reason alone, in fact. I feel good about not throwing out a bunch of extra plates, but I feel really good about doing something that made me a little bit uncomfortable.
I am not perfect. I took free plastic toys in the BlogHer Expo Hall for my kids, and I left the dishes in the garbage in my hotel room when I left instead of keeping them to reuse at home. I don’t think that carting my plate around for a couple of days will, in and of itself, save the world. However, I also think that these little things add up, and the more that we stretch ourselves in small ways, the easier it will become to stretch ourselves in big ways. Bit by bit, I’m working to reduce my impact, and I feel good about that.
What about you – would you cart a plastic plate around in your bag in the name of reducing your plastic waste? Or would you be willing to pay a little bit more so that meals are served on china rather than disposables? I’d love to hear your thoughts!