city guide: asheville, nc.

Zero Waste City Guide: Asheville

In July, my boyfriend and I visited Asheville, North Carolina. We spent a happy week hiking, swimming, wandering through the city, eating, and not checking email (I think I could have a restful vacation anywhere as long as there were no email involved). In case you're thinking of a trip there, I wanted to share some of our favorite places, as well as some ways to avoid generating trash.

DO

-Hike: Stop anywhere along the Blue Ridge Parkway, get out of your car or off your bike, find the trail, and go - it's so easy and because the trails are well-marked there's no need to plan a hiking route in advance. In July, look for wild blueberry, raspberry, and blackberry bushes. When you get to the top of a ridge, clamber on rocks for valley views like the one above. 

-Swim: Looking Glass Falls and Skinny Dip Falls are two favorites. Swimming in the cold, clear water and clambering over rocks made me feel like a kid again.

-Lounge: On the grass on the town green, listening to bluegrass music. In front of Abby the Spoon Lady, being wowed by her rhythm. With a book on an overgrown lawn or a bench outside.

EAT

-Plant: I'm vegan and my boyfriend isn't, but we were both stunned by the food at this gem of a restaurant. It's entirely plant-based, and the artful, delicious dishes are something to slow down and savor. They use cloth napkins and serve reasonable portions, which makes it a trash-free option.

-Laughing Seed Cafe: This eatery serves inventive, tasty vegetarian dishes made with seasonal produce. I especially loved the locally brewed kombucha. Skip the paper napkin and your meal will be zero waste (because I can't imagine that you'll have leftovers. If so, I want 'em).

-French Broad Chocolate Lounge: A much-visited Asheville classic. My boyfriend loved it for the affogato (espresso poured over ice cream) and other tasty desserts. I loved that they offer their wares on non-disposable plates and cups.

STAY ZERO WASTE

-Grocery Shop: The French Broad Food Co-Op has one of the best selections of bulk dry goods and liquids that I've seen, including a whole wall of bulk teas. Bring your own bags and jars for produce, trail mix, dinner staples, oils and vinegars, and liquid sweeteners for local honey. West Village Market sells bulk dry pantry staples, candy, and tea. They also offer locally made refillable cleaning supplies from Fillaree, such as bulk liquid pump soap and all-purpose home cleaning spray.

-Compost: Throwing organic material in the garbage gives me the willies and is something I'll avoid at all costs. Traveling presents the challenge of being away from my familiar composting setup. A bit of exploring led us to the the Greenlife grocery on Merrimon, which has public compost bins.