VOICES: Debi Treleaven // Opting-out of unneeded plastic cutlery

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Debi Treleaven is a Buncombe County resident who volunteers on the Asheville GreenWorks’ Plastics Reduction Task Force and is working to reduce the use of plastics that are polluting our environment. This is a contributor-submitted Voices piece. Want to join the conversation? We invite you to write for us. Learn how to share your voice here.


Can you solve this riddle?

What common plastic item is one of 40 billion given out each year with an estimated 87% never actually used and is not recyclable?

The title of this article is a clue.

We can all reduce plastic pollution by jumping on a growing bandwagon of  people opting out of plastic utensils when ordering takeout meals. You may have seen their efforts on social media with the hashtags #cutoutcutlery or #SkipTheStuff. While we’re at it let’s refuse straws, stirrers, napkins, plastic bags, condiment packets, and anything else we don’t really need.

When ordering online if we don’t find an option to opt out of all these unneeded extras, then let’s use the comment section of the order for that request.  We will have to be diligent with our go-to restaurants because most places automatically load us up with stuff we don’t need. If we eat on the go, we can stash our own non-plastic utensils, napkins, straws, etc in our car, purse, or backpack.

And to help find a useful home for the stash of unopened packaged utensils you got before you realized you can refuse them, bring them to the Hard 2 Recycle events sponsored by Asheville GreenWorks.  Remember they must be prepackaged, not loose pieces or open packages. They will be donated to local soup kitchens. Refusing is better than recycling so in the future you won’t have to deal with these wasteful items.

To be further enlightened, watch the under-two minute YouTube video “The Story of a Spoon.” If you’re really into this stuff, watch this eye opening video from the University of California’s Climate Lab.

Let’s all help put AVL in the forefront of this movement. For more information or to get involved in this or other plastic reduction movements contact Asheville GreenWorks or call (828)-254-1776.