Serve up your Thanksgiving feast, sustainably

Plate with cloth napkin and silverware

By: Bailey Grimmett

Thanksgiving brings together family, friends and communities. It also brings with it a lot of hungry guests, food and place settings. If you are scrambling to find reusable dishware for your holiday hosting, there’s a new service in town that’s here to help.

The Austin Dish Lending Library is a new, local service that provides Austin area residents with reusable alternatives to single-use dishes and utensils. What does that mean? Well, it’s exactly like a library, but instead of books, it’s bowls. With the Dish Lending Library, people can temporarily borrow plates, bowls, cups, silverware and other dishware for an upcoming event, whether it be an office party or at-home Thanksgiving celebration. Not only does using the library save you money (it’s free!), but it also helps keep single-use plastics out of the landfill.

The woman behind the Austin Dish Lending Library is Joanna Tychowski, a local resident with a vision for Austin’s zero waste future. Based on her own experience trying to find reusable dishware for an event, and not wanting to resort to single-use plastics, Joanna was inspired to start the Dish Lending Library this past year, with a goal of encouraging sustainable practices by local residents.

While the library is only a few months old (founded August 2019), it’s starting to get the attention it deserves. “It’s slowly growing,” says Tychowski. “We expect the upcoming holiday months to be a busier period since a lot of food consumption happens during this time.”

Joanna hasn’t been surprised by the high level of participation. “Many Austinites are aware of the City’s zero waste goals, and they use the Dish Lending Library as a way to contribute to that goal.” She’s hopeful that more people will learn about and use the service so that it can expand, and serve even more residents throughout the area.

“My vision is to have several Dish Lending Library branches located in Austin neighborhoods. This will encourage more participation and ensure faster and easier delivery of materials to the customer.”

If you’re hosting a holiday feast (or just an everyday dinner or event), consider utilizing the Austin Dish Lending Library. The process is simple: visit the Dish Lending Library website and submit a borrow request form. From there, you’ll coordinate the drop-off and pick-up details with Joanna, who will work with your schedule and location, and that’s it! You’re ready to serve up some sustenance, sustainably.  

Tip: Before placing your dishware order with the Austin Dish Lending Library, estimate the amount of food you’ll be preparing and serving by using Save the Food’s “Guest-imator.” This food calculator will estimate just how much food you need for an event/party based on size, hunger (how many guests prefer small portions or large portions), food spread and more. Get even more tips for a zero waste holiday in last year’s Thanksgiving blog. Let’s reduce the amount of waste traditionally generated from a hearty Thanksgiving feast and move Austin one step closer to its zero waste goal.

Happy Thanksgiving from Austin Resource Recovery.