How You Can Reduce Single-Use Plastics

Last September, the North Carolina General Assembly approved the state budget that included a law prohibiting local governments from banning single-use plastic products. As a result, the City of Asheville cannot adopt an ordinance banning plastic bags or expanded polystyrene (also known as Styrofoam) takeout containers.

Instead, the City is providing information and resources to residents and businesses to reduce single-use plastic consumption voluntarily through the Less Plastic Asheville Challenge. Check their website to get more information about the challenge and how to get involved.

Easy ways to cut down on single-use plastic

Try removing one type of disposable plastic from your life every week, starting with grocery bags and water bottles. From there, be mindful about the plastics you allow into your life.

It’s easy to get caught up in the bad news about plastic pollution, but we have the power to directly change it with reusable alternatives to single-use plastics.

Here are some ways to get started: 

  • Instead of using plastic bags. bring your own reusable bag, opt for paper or only buy what you can carry.
  • Bring your own straws, or refuse single-use plastic straws.
  • Carry and refill your water bottle instead of using single-use water bottles.
  • Bring your own to-go box instead of using a to-go box.
  • Tell your favorite restaurants that you prefer compostable to-go options.
  • Bring your own reusable cup or mug when getting coffee. Don’t accept non-compostable cups or lids.
  • Bring your own utensils and say "no thanks" to single-use plastic utensils.
  • When you need reusable plastic items, buy those that can be easily recycled by your municipal waste program or by companies that take back their products. 
  • Encourage recycling, and learn what can be recycled and what cannot.
  • Keep plastics away from heat and sunlight to prevent chemical leaching.

In addition, think through your purchases: 

  • Use bar soap and shampoo.
  • Recycle glass jars for leftovers.
  • Buy in bulk rather than in small containers.
  • Use laundry detergent sheets rather than bulky plastic bottles. 

Sources: Could You Go Plastic Free? from Green America; Creation Care Alliance 2024 Winter Symposium