The Petoskey Rotary Club’s Spaghetti Dinner was held for the 68th time Thursday night, making it what might be called a “venerable tradition.” At the same time, in the area of recycling and composting, it is a cutting edge leader.
The spaghetti dinner fundraiser was the first event in the area to achieve “zero waste”—meaning it cut its garbage from a 2017 baseline by over 90 percent. The event serves roughly 900 all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinners a year in the Petoskey High School cafeteria. In years prior to the zero-waste initiative, it typically ended with 20 garbage bags full of plastic utensils and Styrofoam plates and cups destined to spend eternity in area landfills, most recently the Republic Service dump south of Onaway. Even worse, under the low-oxygen conditions landfills are designed to create, the food scraps in those bags decompose anaerobically, creating methane, a greenhouse gas 70 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
This year, the dinner’s garbage was limited to a few ice cream buckets. Made of a combination of paper, plastic, and metal, they were not recyclable.
Emmet County Recycling staffer Lindsey Walker said, “Ideally Rotary’s dinner would eliminate waste entirely by serving on real dishes, but