How Austin’s Dish Lending Library Was Born

Austin Dish Lending Library

It started out simply enough. Joanna Tychowski was helping to organize a breakfast event for her Toastmasters group and being environmentally-minded, she wanted to keep it zero waste (aka – no disposable plates or silverware).

But she quickly found it to be more difficult than she’d imagined. She didn’t have the budget to buy compostable plates and wasn’t working with a catering company that could offer her reusable ones.

So she decided to go to a thrift store and buy a bunch of plates, cups, and silverware herself.

And so, the Austin Dish Lending Library was born.

Austin Dish Lending Library

After the event was over, Joanna figured that she must not be the only one struggling to host zero waste events. So she started storing her thrift store dishes in her spare bedroom and opened up her collection to the community.

“It’s a totally free community resource,” Joanna said in an interview with AEN. “It’s just to help anybody else who wants to host an event and they don’t have a budget for it.”

Interested in using the Dish Lending Library to make your upcoming event more eco-friendly? Here’s how:

  • Browse through the Dish Lending Library’s current inventory online
  • Use this form to contact the Dish Lending Library at least 48 hours in advance of your event and request the dishes you need
  • Pick up the dishes at the Dish Lending Library in south Austin
  • Clean the dishes before returning them back to the library

PS – The Dish Lending Library is not just for official events. You can also use it if you’re just hosting a dinner party at your house and don’t have enough place settings for everyone!

Austin Dish Lending Library

Inspired by Joanna and want to make sure the Dish Lending Library succeeds? Here’s how you can help:

  • Allow the Dish Lending Library to grow its inventory by donating your used dishes. Right now, they are especially looking for wine glasses, soup bowls, and utensils. You can learn more about how to donate here.
  • Participate in the Jester King Dish Drivefrom September 12th – September 29th. All you have to do to participate is drop off your used dishes at Jester King during their normal business hours. Dishes will then be donated to the Austin Dish Lending Library. Plus, anyone who donates will get a free beer or non-alcoholic beverage on the house!
  • Find the Dish Lending Library a permanent home! Right now the library is located in Joanna’s spare bedroom in south Austin, but she hopes that one day there might be several locations throughout the city. If you work for a church, library, or nonprofit that might be interested in becoming a Dish Lending Library location, you can reach out to Joanna using this contact form. 
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