Local News

Restaurants, Cafeterias Using Paper, Plastic to Save Water

Posted October 24, 2007 6:10 p.m. EDT
Updated October 24, 2007 7:11 p.m. EDT

— 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.