Last Tuesday for National Night Out, my street held a block party. Our street doesn't technically have any 'blocks' -- we're just one narrow, windy, pot-holed street about 1/2 mile long, comprising about 50 households. Typically a party with that many people would generate a lot of waste: paper plates and napkins, plastic cups and utensils. But my very eco-minded neighbors who organized the party wisely printed up flyers asking everyone to bring their own plates, utensils, cups and napkins, as well as a dish to share and a beverage of choice. Would folks comply?
Yes! Most people brought durables, and our hosts put out extras. There were a few disposables (I can see some in the photo), but not that many. A recycling bin captured glass beer bottles and aluminum soda cans, and our hosts put out jugs of water and durable cups. They didn't try to capture any compostable food waste since there was such a mix of meat, grain and dairy items. (But when curbside food scrap composting goes Portland-wide next year, we will be able to scrape our potluck plates right into our yard debris bins!) At the end of the evening, after 50 or so adults and children cycled through, all that remained was a small 20-gallon garbage can filled about 1/3 of the way with food and disposable waste. Not too shabby. I tossed our scraped plates and dirty utensils into a plastic bag and brought them home to wash, as did many of my neighbors. Easy peasy.