Next month is Plastic Free July, and Biome have challenged me to make a plastic free pledge to go by during that time. I’m still debating what exactly I will pledge – do I take on something new or make my current resolve non negotiable (i.e. exclusively using my stainless steel lunch box/tiffin carrier for food transport?)
As a warm up to that though (because that can be for future Cindy to figure out) I thought I’d try and see if I can make my Dark Mofo experience this year as waste free as possible.
From the off, this sounds a little strange. Dark Mofo after all is primarily an arts event, featuring the dark and celebrating the season of winter. The other major attraction though, is the Winter Feast. This is in essence a cold season version of our summer feature, The Taste of Tasmania.
In keeping with the ‘feast’ theme, a lot of warming, spit roast, flame grilled, hot, comforting foods take centre stage, and it’s this eating part of Dark Mofo that I’d like to see if I can keep plastic free/waste free.
Already for a few years there has been a conscious shift by providers at these sort of events to provide environmentally friendly packaging and cutlery so as to keep the waste footprint down – bamboo eating utensils, thick recycled card plates or bowls. We’re on the right track. But a lot of biodegradable cutlery ends up in general land fill and, since we in Tasmania live in a cool, temperate climate, this affects the decomposition rate of the biodegradable items; they will sit in land fill for longer and take longer to break down. I was talking about zero waste concepts with a friend of a friend, and she has a pot of fascinating information about the realities that I think would benefit from a blog post of its own.
Back to the topic at hand. We didn’t actually enter the Winter Feast area this year, and instead had bites from the various food trucks that dot Dark Park. I didn’t really know what to expect, and brought my stainless steel stackable lunch box from Biome. It’s a little on the small side, but my tiffin carrier would have been overkill (plus being a little bulky). Despite its petite size, the box was perfect to house two pork belly bao buns from Munchies Street Food (Instagram and Facebook). I could have got something else in the second tier but I forgot I left a chocolate and almond croissant in there from A Piece of Bread.
Initially I was worried I wouldn’t be allowed to use my container because everyone is so busy. Hospitality is such a process driven job – you find the most efficient way to serve people whilst not compromising on quality, and I thought putting my own container in the mix would mess up the finely milled routine, but thankfully Munchies accommodated me beautifully. I’m always told that “it might be a squeeze” to fit whatever offerings into my containers, but even the chefs are surprised by what they can put inside when everything is plated up.
At any rate, I didn’t have to worry about throwing away single use cardboard food trays, or find a rubbish bin that wasn’t overflowing with rubbish, or have to bother about categorising my waste. I just stuffed my face and that was it! The tooth picks used to hold the bao together I disposed of in the many bonfires that dotted Dark Park.
Unfortunately I didn’t account for drinks and had to use one of the many plastic disposable cups for my water. That is easily remedied of course, by either bringing my own cup, or my own full water bottle for that matter. Water provided on site was free and housed in recycled gin bottles.
I consider this initial experience of nearly waste free Dark Mofo to be a soft open for things to come in the future. Maybe next time I got to Winter Feast proper, I’ll bring the whole tiffin and see what I can fit into those containers.