Nfld. & Labrador

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

Holly Hogan and Michael Crummey enjoyed pad Thai at the Avalon Mall with dishes and cutlery they brought from home.

Nobody in the mall gave them a funny look, says Holly Hogan

Michael Crummey, Hogan's husband, waits for his meal at Thai Express at the Avalon Mall. (Holly Hogan/Facebook)

Anyone trying to cut down on plastic knows fast-food packaging 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.

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 describes herself as a surf and turf avian biologist, as she studies both sea and land birds. (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 her food.

"I've prepared a talk on plastic 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 use them instead of 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.

"It seems like it's becoming the norm," she said. "I used to feel a little eccentric doing that, but they seem to be getting used to it, which is fantastic, as far as I'm concerned."

What about clean up?

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

"It was so easy," she said.

Employees at Thai Express were more than happy to use Hogan's plates and cutlery, she says. (Holly Hogan/Facebook)

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

She also plans to get a reusable bag to carry the plates and cutlery, and to make sure she has a cloth or paper towel on hand to clean them up.

Eating plastic-free on the road

Keeping her meals free of plastic is particularly tough when she travels, she said — especially in airports.

But her experience at the Avalon Mall 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 the door a little wider now of choices I can make."

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