Save Durable Dish: Fundraising Campaign

March 19, 2013 |  by  |  Blog

Save Durable Dish!

The Montavilla Farmers Market provides reusable, durable dishes to ready-to-eat food vendors at our market.  This prevents 90 gallons of disposable, single-use utensils and dishes from entering the waste stream every market. Durable Dish is made possible through a generous community partnership with Thatcher’s restaurant, who allows access to their commercial kitchen’s dishwashing facilities.

Durable Dish is in jeopardy.  Supplying Durable Dish with volunteers has been a challenge since the program launched in 2009, and in 2012 it dwindled to its lowest. These volunteers have shouldered a heavy burden each season, requiring unsustainable levels of effort.  The choice between burning out scarce volunteers and providing inconsistent Durable Dish service is not a viable one.

To keep Durable Dish alive in 2013, we need to fund two staff positions for the dish return station and to wash dishes during the market on Sundays.  This will make the experience of Durable Dish reliable and consistent for vendors and customers.

In 2010, Durable Dish won the Association of Oregon Recyclers’ Alice Soderwall Reuse and Waste Prevention Award.  It has also received national attention (click here for the Trash or Treasure blog post).  To date the program has saved about 31,802 pieces of waste from the landfill! It started as a small pilot project in 2009, and in a way is a victim of its own success– it has so positive of an impact and is so well loved that we can’t let it go.

We know that our community loves the program, but it has been hard to find consistent volunteers who are willing to do the dirty work each week. If you have been unable to support this program by volunteering your time and energy, we hope that you would consider donating your resources to fund these positions. For these reasons, we have launched a fundraising campaign on IndieGoGo.

DD setup

What We Need & What You Get

We need $10/hour for the hours during and after market, payroll expenses, and the other small costs of employing the two individuals.  We will also need to cover the Indiegogo fees, credit card processing fees, and the cost of the rewards.  We already have the dishes!

We have come up with a series of rewards that will only be made available through this campaign.  The sticker, t-shirt, and bag will not be for sale at the market.  In fact, they will only get created if the campaign funds. (Please visit our Indiegogo Campaign for more information on contributions and rewards.)

Funds raised above and beyond the goal will be held in the market’s accounts to fund durable dish staff in future years.  If funds raised exceed $5,000, those excess funds will go to the market’s general fund, to support innovative sustainable practices at our market.

Why This Matters

The culture of single-use, disposable consumer items is bad for the planet.

Without this funding we will be forced to cease Durable Dish, and revert to, at best, compostables.  This represent 90+ gallons of waste per market Sunday.

Given the value of our community, we should be able to band together and make this program viable.

How Else to Help

Share this campaign with friends, blog about it, and discuss it in your community.

If you are interested in one of the positions, watch our newsletter, Facebook page, and blog for an announcement if the campaign funds.


Frequently Asked Questions?

Why not just use compostables?  Aren’t they green?

It’s true that compostable serviceware does not contain fossil fuels like plastics do and that they can break down into compost after they’re thrown away if they are processed in the right kind of facility. However, the production and distribution of compostable serviceware still requires fossil fuels. Growing crops for compostable “bioplastics” takes up land on the planet’s limited space available for growing food crops. Bioplastic items are hard to recognize compared to regular plastics. Many bioplastics end up mixed into plastics recycling by mistake, causing contamination of recycling. There are limited commercial compost facilities in the U.S. to process these items properly, so they often end up in the landfill where they do not actually compost at all, but instead eventually break down and produce methane, a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Given all these factors, truly the most sustainable choice is to become a culture that chooses to reuse what we have rather than continue to produce and consume disposable items into perpetuity no matter what the cost to the planet.

You don’t need staff do do this– can I just volunteer?

We expect people will want to offer to volunteer– this is great! There are many volunteer roles available at the market that we would be happy to discuss with you.  However, we’ve been at this since 2009 now, and we know how durable dish management works out with exclusively volunteer based support.  It requires highly accountable staff positions to execute it.

Why don’t you fund this by raising vendor fees?

Our vendors, both in ready-to-eat food and our farmers, are small, and in many cases new businesses struggling to exist.  We do not think it is a viable option for our market to put the burden of this program that benefits the entire planet on their shoulders.  We hope the community that values Durable Dish will help pay for Durable Dish.

Why are rewards so expensive?

We want to money here to primarily go to the cause, not to printing t-shirts.  The rewards are little thank-yous for a donation, not a purchase themselves.

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