Where to shop plastic free in North Carolina

Looking for where to shop & dine in NC to reduce your waste? Here’s a compilation of all the best guides for reducing your plastic waste.

Beyond plastic

Staff | TPIN
Katie Craig

Former State Director, NCPIRG

In a society that prioritizes convenience, plastic has become nearly unavoidable almost everywhere you go. It seems that whether we ask for it or not, we are constantly handed plastic, from the grocery store, to our favorite restaurants and more. But these plastics that we use for just a few minutes, last in our environment for hundreds of years where they harm wildlife, litter our waterways, and break down into microplastics that can end up back in our own bodies. 

No plastic cup, foam take container, or plastic bag that we use for just a few minutes should be able to threaten our health and planet for decades to come. That’s why we’re working to turn off the tap on unnecessary single use plastics and rethink those structures that for too long have put convenience over our long term wellbeing. 

But in the meantime, we’ve heard from many folks wanting to know what they can do now to reduce your own plastic waste right now. So, we’ve taken some time to compile some of our favorite resources for identifying North Carolina restaurants, grocery stores, and other businesses that have plastic-free solutions available right now. 


Zero Waste & Green Businesses in NC

Green Business Directory

What: The Green Business Directory is a North Carolina specific guide created by The Greenish Neighbor and Toward Zero Waste to help consumers “find and support North Carolina GREEN Businesses.”  All businesses listed have taken steps to go green in some way from reducing waste, to providing organic and local options, to lowering their carbon footprints, and more.

Where: Most major NC cities including around the triangle, Charlotte, Wilmington, Fayetteville, Asheville, and more. 

Webpage: https://www.greenishneighbor.com/green-directory 

Let's Go Zero Waste Directory

What: The Let’s Go Zero Waste Directory is a nationwide guide meant to help consumers “find low-waste-friendly places nearby & online by bringing together a searchable directory of businesses & initiatives that are focused on promoting a circular economy, such as bring your own (BYO) container-friendly shops.”

Where: In North Carolina, they have identified businesses in the Triangle, the Triad, Charlotte, and Asheville. 

Webpage: https://letsgozerowaste.com/zero-waste-directory/united-states/north-carolina/


What: Litterless is a website that compiles a list of zero waste stores and composting sites across the country. 

Where: Angier, Asheville, Boone, Burnsville, Carrboro, Cary, Chapel Hill, Charlotte, Durham, Fayetteville, Franklin, Greensboro, Hendersonville, Hickory, Hillsboro, Mars Hill, Morganton, Mooresville, New Bern, Pittsboro, Raleigh, Saxapahaw, Sylva, Wilmington, and Winston Salem. 

Webpage: https://www.litterless.com/bulk-food-guide/north-carolina

Ocean Friendly Establishments

What:  Ocean Friendly Establishment is a certification program started by the Plastics Ocean Project that is “earned by businesses that reduce their plastic waste and seek out sustainable options in serving their community.” 

Where: In North Carolina, the OFE program primarily features businesses up and down the NC coastline. 

Webpage: https://www.oceanfriendlyest.com/ 

Ocean Friendly Restaurants

What: Ocean Friendly Restaurants is a certification program started by Surfrider that “recognizes restaurants that are committed to making sustainable choices for our ocean so that people can dine with peace of mind.” Their certification requires that only reusable foodware is used for onsite dining, no polystyrene and no plastic bags are used for take out orders, single use straws and utensils are only available upon request, and more. 

Where:  In North Carolina, restaurants in Charlotte, Asheville, and the Outer Banks have received this certification. 

Webpage: https://www.surfrider.org/programs/ocean-friendly-restaurants 

Online Zero Waste Retailers

If you can’t find what you need in a store near you, online retailers can be another option.  Check out this guide of some of the many online options out there as well. 

We know that trying to move to a zero waste, or even reduced waste, lifestyle can feel overwhelming. We hope these guides can help make navigating the road to reducing your waste a little easier.  And we know that to really move North Carolina beyond plastics, it’s going to take real policy change too.

Join us in calling on lawmakers to make waste reduction the norm, rather than a complicated pathway that every person must figure out. 


Katie Craig

Former State Director, NCPIRG

Find Out More