BYOC Bring Your Own Cup
The disposable cup is a relatively recent
invention, but for some it’s hard to imagine
life without a morning latte to go or an after-noon
smoothie on the way to the beach. The
trouble is that all those paper cups are lined
with plastic and are not recyclable. Same goes
for the polystyrene foam ones. In the United
States, our to-go cup habit adds up to 500
billion — yes, billion with a B — cups a year.
Get in the habit of bringing your own cup
for hot and cold drinks. They hold tempera-ture
longer, and you often get a discount in
return for your good deed. Just like reusable
totes, most of us have a stash of promotional
tumblers hiding somewhere in our kitchens.
Free up some cabinet space and add a couple
of reusable cups to that growing zero-waste
kit in your car.
Of course, you often need a straw to go
with those liquid treats, and plastic straws
are among the most common types of ocean
plastic. The Hardens, a Southport family,
decided to find an alternative. After trying
everything from bamboo straws (which felt
weird) to pasta straws (which disintegrated),
they discovered glass straws. The Hardens
saw an opportunity to save marine life by
helping others make the switch to glass
straws, and the Sea Glass Company was
born. They make each straw by hand in their
Southport shop and recently added glass
water bottles to the lineup. The shop donates
10 percent of all sales to Ocean Conservancy
as well as participating in a local marine
Reusable water bottles are somewhat of a
fashion item, coming with stripes, flowers,
leopard print, and every school color under
the sun. As ubiquitous as these stainless-steel
containers are, Americans still buy over 50
million single-use water bottles a year. Using
your own water bottle saves a lot of plastic.
To join in the work of area nonprofits,
check out Cape Fear River Watch and the
Plastic Ocean Project. The plastic problem is
real, but we Cape Fear locals can rise to the
THINK SMALL It’s the Little Things
Many of the tiny plastics that end up in the ocean come from our bathroom and
kitchen cabinets. It takes a bit of effort, but it is possible to find locally made products with
eco-friendly packaging to replace some of those everyday plastics.
Home Body Field Goods makes small batch items like soap, tooth powder (in jars
instead of that unrecyclable tube!), dry shampoo, and more. All items are handmade in
Wilmington with natural ingredients and are packaged to create little or no plastic waste.
Finding makeup without plastic packaging can be a challenge. River Organics, a
Wilmington beauty company focused on simple, healthy ingredients, sells it in plastic-free
containers. The company operates as close to zero-waste as possible, right down to the
sugar cane-based compostable labels on their packages.
Another Wilmington company tackling the plastic waste problem is Thrivin’ Hive Food
Wraps. Reusable beeswax wraps can be a great substitute for the cling wrap and zip-top
baggies found in most kitchens. In addition to reducing plastic waste, beeswax wraps can
discourage microbial growth and slow food spoilage, and they can be composted when
they wear out. These wraps are created by a mother-daughter team from organic and
sustainably sourced materials.
In addition to these businesses, there are dozens more focusing on responsible local food
sourcing, second-hand furniture and clothing, and upcycled home décor, all of which
contribute to the fight against ocean plastics. Supporting these businesses and making
small changes to daily habits can have a significant impact.