Planning Ahead: Bring Your Plate

Bringing your own plate for a zero waste meal

Pictured above is my ticket into the Bring Your Plate Club, a members-only club for people who, well, bring their plates with them when they know they might need them to stay zero waste. Yes, it is VERY exclusive - it's only open to people who own plates or other containers or can borrow them in a pinch. Oh, that describes you? Welcome!

I'll start from the beginning: I'm lucky to work for a wonderful company that caters lunch for the whole staff every other week. Catered lunch day is magical - I love not packing my lunch the night before, eating whatever cuisine is on deck that week, and spending time chatting with coworkers and dawdling a bit over the meal. But, the plates on offer are always plastic or styrofoam, so I learned early on to bring my own.

There are a couple of ways to approach Bring Your Plate in the office setting: maybe you can grab a ceramic communal plate from the kitchen before slipping into the buffet line, maybe you'll do what my boyfriend does at his office and keep a plate from home in your desk to use and wash after every hot lunch, or maybe what I do will work best for you, which is bringing a container like the one pictured above (I like it because it's lightweight and I can use it to ferry home anything I might want to compost after the meal, too).

Bringing your plate isn't just for the office, of course. You could bring a stainless steel container to the crepe stand at your farmers' market, carry a cloth napkin for holding hors d'oeuvres at a networking event, or tote a plate of your own to a picnic, potluck, or festival.

My crowning achievement of the Bring Your Plate Club was at the company holiday party this past year, where I knew from prior years' experience that the plates on offer for dinner would be plastic. Yep, that was me in my cocktail attire, slipping my own ceramic plate quietly out of my bag, trying to wave to my friend Elizabeth who was doing the same.

You're probably already a member of the Bring Your Plate Club - or at least its satellite clubs, the Bring Your Napkin, Bring Your Cutlery, and Bring Your Water Bottle clubs. Welcome, welcome. We're glad to have you.

PS. Here's a picture of the club in the wild, taken by my friend and coworker Elizabeth.