Fairground food court
(Photo credit: Georgeccampbell / Wikipedia)

One of the biggest draws of a festival or fair is the food: fried dough, barbecue, kebabs and more. But much of that tasty food is served with plastic plates, cups, and utensils.

“Everywhere I went, I kept seeing mountains and mountains of garbage,” says Joey Diana Gates of Ithaca, New York. She says using disposable plastic causes a lot of carbon pollution.

“The materials are extracted, refined, manufactured, shipped, sold, brought home, used, and discarded,” she says.

So four years ago, Gates started a nonprofit project called Dish Truck.

“We provide durable dishes for folks to use at events and festivals instead of disposables,” she says.

At the end of an event, she takes the dirty dishes away. She composts the food scraps and washes the plates and silverware in a commercial kitchen.

Gates plans to grow the project. She hopes to get her own kitchen where she can install a solar hot water heater and wash the dishes using renewable energy.

She’s also exploring other innovative ways to improve energy efficiency, for example by using the heat from discarded wastewater to help warm the next round of fresh water.

So climate-conscious festival-goers, eat up, and don’t worry about the dishes.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.