Plastic pollution is suffocating our ocean and the many animals that call it home. Researchers estimate there are now over 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic in the ocean with the number continuing to grow every day. This pollution is impacting our marine ecosystems and wildlife, such as seabirds, dolphins, and turtles. Plastic fragments are even displacing plankton at the base of the food chain. So what’s the best way to combat this global epidemic facing our ocean? It’s simple: we need to stop the problem at its source! The Surfrider Foundation’s Ocean Friendly Restaurants (OFR) program does just that. One restaurant, one customer at a time, increases awareness, drives change in behavior and ultimately creates scalable impact to reduce our plastic (and water!) footprint.
Surfrider’s OFR program highlights businesses that pledge to meet an ocean friendly standard, based on a comprehensive list of criteria. One of the main goals of the OFR program is to eliminate or significantly reduce plastic waste, including expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam, a type of plastic typically used for inexpensive, disposable products (cups, plates, ‘clamshells,’ etc.), which are also some of the most common items found at beach cleanups. As there are additional types of pollution and other issues impacting the ocean that restaurants can help address to be truly “ocean friendly,” optional criteria is included to highlight restaurants that are also working to conserve water and energy and offer more sustainable food.
The Surfrider Foundation’s OFR program provides businesses with a registration process that has been vetted by a variety of stakeholders, Surfrider representatives, business groups and government agencies. Recognition through the OFR program provides businesses with true marketplace value. Currently available for restaurants and other food service providers, participating businesses become coastal defenders in their communities through an established program that is clearly recognizable with consumers.
Ocean Friendly Restaurants make a pledge to use less plastic and take other steps to help protect the coast. OFRs are recognized by the Surfrider Foundation after the completion of the registration form, a small membership fee and a potential on-site assessment. Restaurants from coast to coast are encouraged to participate. Visit go.surfrider.org/ofr for more info and details on how restaurants can join the ocean friendly movement!