We believe in doing everything we can to make the amount of trash we produce each week as small as possible at the Montavilla Farmers Market. That is why in the past we have traded in disposable plates, forks, and cups with ones that we can wash and reuse. Did you know that our trash ends up in a landfill in eastern Oregon? And that even our compostable waste ends up near Seattle? We think that’s silly. Farmers markets are all about keeping it local. Let’s keep our dirty dishes local too.
One Fork at a Time
Thanks to a grant from the City of Portland, Montavilla Farmers Market pioneered the Durable Dish program in 2009 — the first ever at an outdoor farmers market. During 15 market weeks of 2009 when we piloted the program, we were able to keep the equivalent of 1,796 paper plates, paper boats, and plastic clamshells; 393 plastic cups and lids; and 2,101 plastic forks out of the waste stream! Our 2010 season exceeded our expectations, with 4,012 plates, 4,695 forks, and 483 cups kept out of the waste stream!
Unfortunately, our 2013 IndieGoGo Durable Dish fundraising campaign did not receive enough donations to successfully fund the continuation of the program, and Durable Dish at the Montavilla Farmers Market is suspended until stable funding can be found. The monies received would have provided wages for two staff positions required to run the on-site operations.
2015 has seen a unique version of the Durable Dish program. One of our newest vendors, Laura Morgan of FarmCart, started her own take on the three R’s by buying up gently used, restaurant quality dishes and flatware to bring to market. Inspired to make a change, and passionate about reducing waste, Laura found that washing dishes each week was also more cost efficient than using disposables! Only one hour of the time spent each week in her commercial rental kitchen is required to clean three full bus bins – enough plates and flatware for approximately 120 servings of her delicious meals. We hope that Laura’s fine example will inspire other vendors at future markets.
Donations for the return of the Durable Dish program are accepted at our info booth and will go to the program’s eventual refunding. Each Sunday, we welcome over 1300 Market customers. If each person, in a single Sunday, donated $2, we could fund the program in a single weekend, for the whole season! We look forward to a continued conversation with our community about Durable Dish and the value of sustainable eating onsite.
Thanks to our Durable Dish Partners
We would like to extend a very special thanks to Thatcher’s Restaurant for making their commercial dishwasher available to us. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to clean all those dishes!
7906 SE Stark Street Portland, OR 97215
Funded by a grant from the City of Portland Bureau of Planning & Sustainability.