Plastic Pollution
November 27 2018

Ocean City Maryland Recognizes “Strawless Summer” Program of Chapter

by John Weber

The Ocean City chapter is making waves in the community by raising awareness about plastic pollution and ditching the plastic straw. Just before Thanksgiving, the Mayor and Council of Ocean City, MD passed a resolution in support of the local chapter’s efforts to curtail straw use!

The Ocean City Maryland Chapter has been implementing the Ocean Friendly Restaurants program quite successfully in 2018. In order to expand the number of participating restaurants taking measures to protect the ocean, the chapter also started a “Strawless Summer” initiative to focus on reducing plastic straw consumption. These two programs together have created a groundswell in Ocean City and a community-wide effort to curb plastic pollution.

Chapter Secretary Marina Feeser made a brightly colored poster reminiscent of the Endless Summer artwork and the chapter put a pledge online for both individuals and restaurants. To date, 70 restaurants and 500 individuals have signed the pledge.  Individuals pledge to not use plastic straws, let restaurant waitstaff know they do not want a straw, or bring their own reusable straw. Restaurants pledge to only serve straws on request or provide a paper or reusable alternative to their customers.  This strategy and tactic is informed by Surfrider's "Plastic Straws Suck Activist Toolkit" which helps local groups and individuals develop a program or campaign to stop plastic straw pollution in their own community.

The City of Ocean City recognized this fantastic work by passing a resolution in support of Strawless Summer. The presentation of the resolution was in the Maryland Coast Dispatch who provided the photo and the local news media has put a spotlight on the success of the program. Pictured from the left is Deb Heft, Mel Harrison, Marina Feeser, and Jane Robison of the Ocean City chapter, and Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan.

The City has plans to additionally recognize businesses that are following a straws-on-request policy in 2019.  The Chapter plans to grow the number of Ocean Friendly Restaurants and continue the fight against single-use plastics in Maryland. 

While Ocean City may be a sleepy small town in the winter, its population can be as much as 345,000 in the summer and over 8 million people visit Ocean City annually.  The chapter is proving the grassroots efforts and proactive programs like Ocean Friendly Restaurants and "Strawless Summer" can get businesses to join the fight against plastic pollution and make a tangible difference for our ocean, waves and beaches.