SC State Parks retail stores are ditching single-use plastic water bottles and bags

April 22, 2024

In celebration of Earth Day, the South Carolina State Park Service is proud to announce a transition away from selling single-use plastic water bottles and using plastic shopping bags in park retail stores around the state. State Park retail stores will now use paper shopping bags and sell water in recycling-friendly aluminum bottles.

The initiative was driven by feedback and research from park rangers and staff to find more sustainable options to serve visitors.

“South Carolina leaders are putting a strategic focus on the preservation and conservation of the natural spaces that make South Carolina’s cultural and environmental heritage unique,” said South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism Director, Duane Parrish. “Since the gates of the first State Parks opened in the 1930s, we’ve been dedicated to protecting and sharing some of South Carolina’s most treasured places – and working to ensure they are around for generations to come. The 2024 Earth Day theme, ‘Planet v. Plastic,’ highlights just how important and timely this operational change is to our natural world. I’m proud of team members who identified this problem and proposed the solution that is rolling out around the state.”

“Plastics are a prolific problem for our wildlife, rivers, and oceans, and it’s always disheartening to see plastic litter in state parks – whether it’s in a parking lot or miles down a wooded trail,” said South Carolina State Parks Director, Paul McCormack. “A single-use plastic water bottle may quench your thirst for an hour or two, but if it’s not properly recycled, it will take hundreds of years to break down. Our swap to easily recyclable aluminum water bottles and paper bags will help reduce plastic waste in our parks. It will also help us raise awareness with our visitors about how small, intentional swaps in our everyday life can add up to a big impact.”

Single-use plastic water bottles and plastic bags will be fully swapped out in all state park retail stores in the coming months.

On Friday, April 19, South Carolina State Parks and Duke Energy hosted a press event at Paris Mountain State Park announcing another initiative to reduce plastic waste in parks. A $150,000 grant from the Duke Energy Foundation is supporting the installation of water bottle refilling stations at the 25 South Carolina State Parks in Duke Energy Carolinas counties. Each water station includes two water fountains, a bottle-filling spout, and a ground-level pet-friendly fountain, offering visitors and their four-legged friends fresh filtered water at the push of a button. The stations are being installed at common visitation areas or trailheads within the parks.

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