Local News

Restaurants, Cafeterias Using Paper, Plastic to Save Water

Posted October 24, 2007

— The state needs at least 15 inches of rain to ease drought conditions, and until that happens, restaurants and cafeterias are fighting the drought by keeping dishes out of the dishwasher.

To cut water use by 1,500 gallons a day, Big Ed's City Market Restaurant on Wolfe Street has decided to forgo flatware.

The establishment is giving “the customer a choice as to whether they prefer to be served on our traditional china or go to paper," restaurant owner Sam Hobgood said.

Washing pots, pans and plates accounted for 65 percent of Big Ed's water use.

Starting next week, customers will have the option to eat on recyclable paper plates and to use plastic forks.

“We want to make sure we're doing our part as a business to help out in any way we can,” Hobgood said.

Since Gov. Mike Easley asked everyone to cut water use by 50 percent, servers at Big Ed's have offered drinking water by request only.

“The governor's concerns are our concerns,” said Hobgood.

Five years ago, Moore County required restaurants to use paper plates and plastic utensils during a water shortage. Raleigh officials said Wednesday they are considering a similar measure.

“We've discussed that, but it's not something we're ready to do yet,” Ed Buchan, a water conservation specialist with Raleigh's Public Utilities Department, said.

Restaurant customers with whom WRAL spoke said they don't mind using paper and plastic to save water.

“I think that's a wonderful idea, especially in [recognition] of the fact that we have a water shortage,” restaurant customer Phillis Ostheim said.

Big Ed's will charge customers 15 cents for using paper products. The owner said he is unable to absorb the cost of buying the supplies.

Cumberland County schools will soon give automatic dishwashers a break. Next week, schools will use paper or plastic plates and cups.

The school system expects to save up to 50,000 gallons of water a day. Money budgeted for water bills will help buy the products. Large pots and pans will still be washed by hand.

Other school systems are also doing their parts to conserve water. Wake County schools use paper and plastic in the cafeterias. Orange County schools have reduced outdoor watering and are considering additional ways to cut back.


Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • dianadarling Oct 25, 2007

    Next we will have to find new landfill space

  • YipesStripes Oct 25, 2007

    I think people are too focused on what their food is being served on. If the food is still the same, fantastic food then who cares? Enjoy what you went for - the food!

  • YipesStripes Oct 25, 2007

    Whatelseisnew, I guess it's a matter of choosing the lesser of two evils right now. A lack of water is today's primary issue. If there's a better option that Big Ed's can entertain to conserve water and not support the "evil oil companies" then perhaps you should share that with the restaurant owner. I'm sure he'd be willing to listen.

  • shine Oct 25, 2007

    Anyone willing to conserve should not be criticized. If you don't want the paper plates... stay at home and run out your water. This is a critical measure - it is so unfortunate that this 'society' has no bond, not patrtiotic, and it is a "ME" world for everyone....... I am glad I CAN remember the old days......... B_ _ ch all you want -

    Have you ever not had water........ I have - not fun......

  • whatelseisnew Oct 24, 2007

    This is horrible don't you know that the plastic is made from petroleum and that means you are helping the EVILLLL oil companies. Oh tell me this isn't true>

  • TwoFer Oct 24, 2007

    I'll just leave a quarter by the plate so you can use that after you clean off the table.

  • something2say Oct 24, 2007

    Although this is an attempt, I don't see many customers opting for paper and having to pay $0.15 extra! With this advertising, he would probably easily make up his money with the extra customers and reduced water bill. You can't tell me with the mark up he can't spare $0.15 per customer!

  • DavidJonathan Oct 24, 2007

    Good idea. Every effort helps save water. We still have time to make a difference if we continue to conserve. And in the future, WATER must be discussed when developers want to mow down acres of trees and create new demand for water.

  • motorfinga Oct 24, 2007

    I'll be eating at home.

  • IceCreamMan Oct 24, 2007

    They can't absorb the cost so they're charging 15 cents? Just goes to show how cheap restaurant owners are.