Thinking green: Ban plastic bags

Hartwell Carson

Editor’s note: The following interview is one of several that will be featured throughout this month’s Sustainability series. Be sure to grab each week’s paper to see other community spotlights. 

Hartwell Carson has served as a French Broad riverkeeper with MountainTrue for over a decade.

What’s a local sustainability initiative that you think is going well?

I think the effort by Plastic-Free WNC to ban plastic bags and Styrofoam is on the right track. Asheville would be the first city in North Carolina to pursue such a measure, but across the country over 400 cities, counties and states have taken action to stop plastic waste. The reason this is such a pressing issue is not just the litter that clogs our streams, but the climate impacts associated with producing plastic, the human health impacts from ingesting microplastics and the equity impacts associated with the disposal of plastics. Only about 5% of plastic bags are recycled, and the ones that aren’t are usually dumped in poor communities around the globe.

What is one piece of environmental legislation or policy change that you would like to see Asheville/Buncombe County make?

The plastic ban is a big step forward for our community and would hopefully be the first of many communities in North Carolina to do the same. In addition to the plastic ban, we are pushing the N.C. General Assembly to allocate money to our soil and water conservation districts to help protect water quality by installing fencing for cattle and other best management practices.

How does your organization get its messaging out to the community? 

MountainTrue likes to use every tool in the toolbox to educate our community, but we often use grassroots support to educate our leaders about pressing environmental issues.

Where do you go to enjoy the outdoors?

My favorite conservation is easily the French Broad River. Every section has its own unique characteristics, but my favorite section is upstream of Hot Springs into Tennessee. This section is stunning with cliffs, views and fun whitewater.


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4 thoughts on “Thinking green: Ban plastic bags

  1. Junior

    I think we went green enough with river link thats who we get to thank for the asheville moter speedway being gone curbie wants them gone cause they get hung in there sorting machines for recycleing thats who wants them gone

  2. Marty G Kirkpatrick

    Ban plastics? What will replace them? Burlap sacks for grocery bags, paper,trash bags? How about all the many other important roles plastics play? These are practically everything under the sun. This sounds suspiciously like after we get them banned, the banning sky is the limit! Why are we shielding the facts that this is just another power grab from folks wanting to control the only narrative regarding, well, Everything! Where does the EQUITY of that gain in the mainstream of thought? It never does. Regulations exactly like these are why the U.S. is facing a depression, while the rest of the world makes bank.

  3. MV

    If MountainTrue and others are truly concerned about plastics, they should lead boycotts against some of the biggest offenders in our region, such as Salvage Station, a venue notorious for serving alcohol in single-use plastic cups. Oddly, MountainTrue hosted their 40th anniversary party at Salvage Station last fall, and I watched in horror as trash can after trash can filled with plastic to be shipped off…where?

  4. Taxpayer

    Perhaps we might consider banning handing out sleeping bags, tents and needles which are now in piles everywhere all over the city.

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