We see a lot here at Something Borrowed Portland. Not just within the wedding industry but events in general from corporate to home BBQ’s. Most of us wouldn’t think twice about the serving ware we use, choosing to go with cost and convenience over function and durability. This is unfortunate given how much waste we produce, most of which can easily be avoided with a little bit of extra planning (and some great resources).
The Disposable Cup
Case in point, the ever so convenient disposable cup. Yes you cup, we’re talking about YOU. I’ve used them and I’m sure you have, too. When I was planning my husbands birthday party a few years ago I knew I didn’t want to use any disposables. Sure, they’re uber convenient as you just “toss” them when you’re done and viola! the kitchen is clean. But when you stop and think for a second, “where do they all end up? they must go somewhere” it’s a scary thought when you really know.
As a Master Recycler, I’ve had the opportunity to tour some of Portland’s finest… the Metro Transfer Station as well as the Hillsboro Landfill. When your garbage is picked up by a hauler, it’s first taken to Metro (pictured above, top). Once at Metro, large trucks collect your waste and take it to the landfill (pictured above, bottom). Bear in mind, at first glance, the landfill doesn’t look like a scary, icky place. Crew does a pretty darn good job at keeping the grounds maintained and our waste covered. Every day a new layer of dirt and crushed glass (glass that we recycle) is poured on top of what we’ve discarded, such as your wonderful disposable cup. This helps with keeping critters and the smell away.
Metro on the other hand is quite intimidating. The last time I went there in fact, I left in tears (I kid you not). I was downright horrified at how much we throw away, much of which can be reused or recycled! We live in a throw-away nation. That phone you buy this year will be replaced next year. Do you know how many phones that is? If you’re trying to guess, think huge numbers… 150 million annually! And that disposable cup you thought “convenient”, you throw away roughly 500 (plastic) cups a year. Yes you. What’s worse is we throw “away” enough paper and plastic cups, forks and spoons every year to circle the equator 300 times. WOW! How’s that for numbers?
What are you to do? Beg, steal and borrow durables instead (okay, maybe not steal). Yes, it may require a little bit more time to clean, but make a statement, be “cool”, go out on a limb… whatever it takes! Trust me, after hosting a few events to friends and family its a conversation starter “why would you want to wash all those dishes?“, “what if one breaks?” as well as hearing “how cool, REAL cups!“. Aside from Something Borrowed Portland’s rentals (primarily of mason jars used for drinking), there’s a household goods lending library in North Portland that has durables to borrow, your local thrift store is STOCKED with them for sale, or try another party rental (they’ll even wash them for you).
In parting words, disposable cups at a wedding really scare me. Why? They just don’t look good. You have a beautiful wedding, wonderful food and venue, you look amazing, and there’s the (excuse me for saying) cheap cups. Don’t skimp, use the real thing.