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Discussion Starter #1
<p>I have been rolling an idea around in my head for a few days and wanted to put it out there and see what you all think of it.  We go to church dinners once a week in the basement of our church.  There are usually about 50-75 people attending.  We get a plate of food that the church kitchen makes on a disposable plate(usually styrofoam) with disposable silverware.  I am so disgusted by the garbage, and I was thinking of trying to get some kind of system in place where we can use real plates and silverware.  I don't think the kitchen has a dishwasher of any sort, and I am sure no one wants to wash 75 plates after the dinner is over, but if everyone washed their own...</p>
<p>They do this at rainbow gatherings, there are 3 big pots; first one has soap and water to rinse your plate in ; second one has bleach water to disinfect plate ; third one has plain water again.  Then plates are dried with clean towel.  </p>
<p>Do yo think this would be legal in terms of food safety? </p>
<p>I think at first people could be encouraged to bring their own plates and silverware and have the option of using and washing their own or using disposable, then if it works the church could purchase reusable dishes.  Do you think its a feasible idea?  Is it breaking laws?  Am I being too much of a hippy thinking people would actually go along with washing their dishes in pots?  </p>
 

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<p>Perhaps ask everyone to bring two plates to donate to the church. Invite thrift store fines. Ask other people to scour the thrift stores too which will be available for a donation of X.</p>
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<p>Sounds like a fine process to me.</p>
 

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I think being asked to bring/clean off your own plate after being given free food is very reasonable. Or, maybe people would be willing to volunteer to help. You could have a few volunteers so one person isn't stuck with all that work.
 

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<p>We attend dinners (SCA "feasts" for anyone in-the-know) where everyone brings their own gear in a basket and takes it home to wash. I put the dirties in a plastic bag and then wash at home. It's just the way it's always been. I'm not sure if you will have any luck changing your church culture, but it's another option. Doesn't everyone have at least one "plastic picnic set" in a cheap woven basket that they got some year as a gift? LOL!</p>
 

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<p>Oh that reminds me. We also had monthly dinners where disposables were used. When "Masel" who posts here took them over, she invited people to bring their own reusable plates and then take them back home. I thought that was a nice reminder and good start to culture change. It hasn't really caught on, but I bet if you got 20 people at the church to start doing that it might reach critical mass. And Hey - 20 less paper plates is a good start!</p>
 

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<p>Growing up my church would have lots of potlucks and dinners and used real plates that the church owned. They did have a small commercial dishwasher though often the dishes were washed by hand by volunteers. If you can get people to volunteer that would work. It sounds like everyone washing their own dishes would be fine too. This makes me think about the future though. I'm a pastor's wife and if we ever do dinners like that when we have our own church I would hate to throw out a bunch of paper or plastic. I may even have to make 100 cloth napkins to be used instead of paper!</p>
 

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<p>We have monthly potluck lunches at our church.  I'd say that there are probably 50-60 people there.  The church has TONS of everyday (and china for that matter) plates and silver, yet they use disposables for convenience sake, I guess.</p>
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<p>I desperately want to go back to using regular plates and such, but do not have the ability to volunteer to wash them all myself!  I've taken a bit of a longer view of the solution.  DH and I have recently started up a "30something couples" group with some other couples.  In addition to the fellowship and study that the group does together we have made it our service to the church to do the clean up after the potlucks.   It is my hope that, as a group, once we have established 'ownership' of the cleaning up duties we can start to reintroduce silverware and plates.  After all, if we're doing the cleanup it shouldn't bother anyone, right?</p>
 

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<p>Thanks for the replies everyone! Such good outlooks you all have! I emailed the pastor and he set up a meeting with himself and the woman who is in charge of the grounds and church care, and the cook. The cook didn't show up, but the other three of us had a really positive discussion about other options. The woman is totally on board, and the pastor is on board as long as it doesn't effect the convenience and ease of the dinners. It turns out they have dishes, sliverware, a huge three part sink, and a dishwasher! The grounds woman suggested the church buy trays that the food would sit directly on, this would be easier for kids to carry. We also talked about getting a coffee cup rack for the people who drink coffee. So Yay! The pastor wants to me to come and speak about it at the next meeting of some sort. I may suggest that we make eco-freindly changes part of a goal for the church and that it be included in some of the lessons for the kids, etc. Kind of off topic, but can you all think of specific books of the bible or Christian teachings about taking care of the Earth? It would be great to have that as a theme for a while at church. Thanks for the suggestions and encouragement!</p>
 

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<p>The book that comes to mind for me is The Lorax by Dr. Suess. OK - not biblical, but certainly not objectionable.</p>
 

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<p>Not sure if this is what you are looking for, but Doris Janzen Longacre (The More with Less Cookbook, etc.) has a section in at least one of her books about this problem.  She talks about stewardship of resources and the astonishment of  a group of visitors from Africa that they were expected to throw away table service!</p>
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<p>I would certainly not object to being part of a rotation to wash dishes after my meal.</p>
 
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