One way to cut down on plastic? Bring your own dishes to the food court

Anyone trying to cut down on plastic knows fast food can be a major setback. But on Friday night, after a hankering for pad thai, Holly Hogan and her husband took matters into their own hands — literally.

They brought their own cutlery and plates to the Avalon Mall food court in St. John's.

"They didn't even raise an eyebrow at Thai Express! One of the women smiled and she looked even a little delighted, I would say," Hogan said.

Holly Hogan/Facebook

Hogan is a bird biologist and runs a Facebook group called Reducing Plastic Use and Consumption. She's trying to get plastic out of her house and away from all of her food.

"I've prepared a talk on pastic so I did a lot of research on plastic's effects on human health. And now that I know that, I can't store food in plastic or eat from it," she said.

She's taken her own dishes to the Indian Express food truck, where staff were happy to fill her home-brought plates. She also takes dishes to the grocery store so people behind the deli counter can skip the Styrofoam trays and plastic wrap when they slice her meat and cheese.

Friday was her first time taking plates somewhere as public as the mall, she said, and nobody gave her any funny looks.

What about clean up?

After she'd eaten, she used her lime wedge to wipe the leftover sauces from her plate and wiped it all off with a paper napkin. Then she carried the dishes out. 

"It was so easy," she said.


She used Corelle brand dishes, which are typically made of tempered glass, but says for future meals, she'll probably get a different, more durable type, like tin.

She also plans to use a reusable bag to carry them in and out, and to make sure she has a cloth or paper towel on hand to clean them up.

Eating plastic-free on the road

Her vow to keep plastic away from her food makes it tough to eat well when she travels, she said, especially in airports.

But her experience at the food court may have changed that.

"Instead of just bringing boiled eggs and homemade granola bars and eating them for 36 hours, I can start carrying a plate," she said. "It just opens opens the door a little wider now of choices I can make."

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