A Dozen Eco Observations in the Outer Banks

Recently Enviro Girl and her family took a vacation in the Outer Banks, North Carolina.  As she’s prone to doing, Enviro Girl noted how folks down there treated the environment and compared it to her own experience living Up North.  As it turns out, the Outer Banks (OBX) does a lot of good things.

1.  Enviro Girl NEVER saw paper towels in bathrooms–on their drive from Illinois on through North Carolina, she saw nothing but hand dryers which reduce landfill waste.  Bravo!  (She wonders if the preponderance of paper towels in Wisconsin is somehow linked to the paper industry there…)

2.  Ocean breezes combined with an outdoors lifestyle means people in the OBX rely on ceiling fans and screen windows to cool their houses and businesses.  When her family went someplace air-conditioned, the temperature wasn’t so cold it chilled them.   It was refreshing to see people enjoying plain old air in the summertime.

3.  All the detergents were phosphorus free due to a statewide ban.

4.  Local produce was available everywhere–from supermarkets to roadside stands to farm markets.  Any day at any time it was easy to find locally grown produce.  Clearly North Carolina takes a lot of pride in its agriculture industry.  Where Enviro Girl lives, it’s much tougher to buy local–the few farm markets are on Saturday mornings, severely limiting access to locally grown produce.  She also noted how most restaurants bragged up serving locally produced food.

5.  Holy thrift shops, Batman!  Enviro Girl saw an awful lot of thrift stores, leading her to believe that reuse/recycle is part of the mantra in North Carolina.

6.  There was no curbside recycling, much to their dismay, but later they learned they could bring their recyclables to stations for recycling.  Kind of inconvenient for people used to regular curbside collection…

7.  Garbage pick up was 3 times a week.  This seemed excessive to Enviro Girl, until she got a whiff of their own kitchen wastebasket on Day 5 of their stay.  She assumes that the sultry air makes frequent garbage collection a requirement for the purposes of reducing odors.

8.  It was great to see how huge swaths of dunes are protected.  Signs and fencing clearly mark beach access and even the house they stayed in had sand dunes beneath the front porch.  The ocean was very clean and the beach looked pristine.  People obviously take a lot of pride in the OBX.

9.  No doubt a result of a clean habitat, Enviro Girl saw tons of wildlife–birds, fish, animals enjoying a safe, healthy environment.

10.  Enviro Girl found she could bring her own bottles of water anywhere she wanted.

11.  Enviro Girl never saw so many people using canvas shopping bags at the supermarket.  It nearly brought tears to her eyes to see that BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag) was the status quo.  Also worth mentioning:  the supermarkets used no plastic bags, only paper.

12. Biking and pedestrian trails were easy to access and could get you almost anywhere on the island.  While the OBX clearly has some traffic congestion, they wisely made room for alternate forms of transportation.  It looked like mostly locals used the trails, but still…

The development was startling to Enviro Girl, most of the OBX is built up, there’s nothing quaint about it at first glance.  Clearly it’s a popular spot, but Enviro Girl wonders what zoning is in place to balance people with the environment.  That said, she gives the OBX two thumbs up for wasting few resources and treating their environment with respect.