The Green Scene

Hamming it up for plastic

Did you know that every second, 100 plastic bottles are thrown away in North Carolina? And that one in five plastic bottles doesn't get recycled? Those are just two reasons state legislators passed a bill that bans plastic bottles from landfills. The law took affect on Oct. 1, and during the following week a few North Buncombe High School students came up with their own way of spreading the word: They creatively adorned themselves with plastic bottles under the premise that when someone asked, "Why are you wearing those bottles on your head?" they'd get a chance to educate.

Plastic hams: North Buncombe High School students Lowell Capobianco and Brian Clubb ham it up to raise awareness about a new state law banning plastic in landfills. Photo courtesy N. Buncombe High

"We already have a great recycling program here that includes plastic bottles," says teacher Kay McLeod. "But now it must include all of our plastic bottles." The school had to develop new collection methods and get the word out, she adds. Later this month, some students will partner with BlackHawk Recycling to make a video for school broadcast.

In related news, the city of Asheville is trying to spread the word that there's "no need to look at the bottom for the recycling symbol and number. Just remember — the neck must be smaller than the base. Please remove the lid before you recycle." Plastic tubs — such as yogurt and margarine containers, food trays, deli containers, plant trays, plant pots, plastic furniture, or toys — can't go into your recycling bins. City officials suggest recycling your clean No. 5 plastic containers by dropping them off at the Greenlife Grocery, which is participating in the Preserve Gimme 5 program, a Boston-based effort to collect No. 5 plastics and turn them into new products such as cutting boards.
For more information on Gimme 5, go to

Climate action and films

Climate, water, energy and activism will be the topics du jour at the Wild and Scenic Environmental Film Festival in Asheville on Friday, Oct. 23 at UNC-Asheville. The event will feature a selection of award-winning short films, including All Points South (which details the environmental threats posed by the paper-manufacturing industry in Chile), Water Front (which examines privatized water issues in Michigan) and Burning the Future: Coal in America.

"Most people don't realize what an enormous impact the energy industry has on North Carolina's waters," says Gracia O'Neill, assistant director of Clean Water for N.C., a nonprofit that is co-hosting the film event. She mentions recent findings about toxins seeping from coal-ash retaining ponds in the state, urging residents and students alike to attend the event, which will also feature speakers such as local civil-rights activist Isaac Coleman and anti-nuclear-power activist Mary Olson.

The event also jump-starts the International Day of Climate Action, which in Asheville will include a rally at City Hall on Saturday, Oct. 24, from 2 to 4 p.m.
Tickets for the film event are $10 (or $5 with student I.D.) and are available at the UNCA Student Environmental Center, Clean Water for N.C. (29 ½ Page Ave.), Diamond Brand Outdoors (2623 Hendersonville Road), West End Bakery (757 Haywood Road) and Luella's BBQ (501 Merrimon Ave.). For more information about the Oct. 24 event at City Hall, get on the newsletter for updates by e-mailing with "Subscribe" in your subject line, or check out these links:

• Global Web site:
• Local:
• Global Twitter:
• Local Twitter:
• Global FaceBook:
• Local

Bring us your e-waste

Buncombe County Solid Waste and the Arden Wal-Mart are sponsoring a free electronic-waste recycling event on Saturday, Oct. 24, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Arden Wal-Mart parking lot (60 Airport Road). E-Waste items accepted include TVs, monitors, computers and components, wiring and more. (But be aware: The county can't accept household appliances, microwaves, smoke detectors, furniture, chemicals, or household or car batteries.)

Many electronic items contain hazardous materials — heavy metals such as lead, cadmium and mercury, for example. In fact, because of the toxins found in many of these electronic devices, the Buncombe County Landfill only collects unwanted electronic equipment from residents on most Fridays, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (the service is free with proof of residency, but business owners are assessed a fee and must call ahead). Various components used in electronic equipment, such as glass, metals and plastic, can actually be recycled into other products. E-waste also contains such valuable materials as gold, platinum and silver, all of which can be recovered by recyclers, thus creating an economic benefit from recycling e-waste material.

Any Buncombe County business, school, government agency, organization or resident is welcome to bring unwanted electronic equipment to the Oct. 24 event. If you have any questions, call Leslie O'Connor at 301-1946 or Kristy Smith at 250-5473.

Send your environmental news to or call 251-1333, ext. 152.

About Margaret Williams
Editor Margaret Williams first wrote for Xpress in 1994. An Alabama native, she has lived in Western North Carolina since 1987 and completed her Masters of Liberal Arts & Sciences from UNC-Asheville in 2016. Follow me @mvwilliams

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.