Plastic Pollution
January 07 2019

Surfrider Ocean Friendly Restaurants Get Plastic off your Plate!

by Trent Hodges

2018 marked an incredible year of plastic pollution victories for Surfrider. We won 52 plastic pollution-related campaigns all across our network, from banning plastic straws in San Francisco to passing a national strategy in Canada to address plastic pollution comprehensively. At the same time that we were winning these victories, our chapters were also on the ground changing the way that business is done in the restaurant industry. As we find during our beach cleanups and as the science clearly shows, plastic packaging is the biggest input into our ocean and the food industry has a huge role to play in transitioning society away from the single-use system that is causing huge impacts to our ocean, waves and beaches.

Over 400 restaurants across the country are considered a Surfrider Ocean Friendly Restaurant, which means that they take proactive steps to eliminate single-use plastics, such as not providing polystrene foam, not offering plastic bags, providing only reusable tableware, recycling effectively, and serving straws only on request.  Some of our restaurants also go the extra mile and only serve certified sustainable seafood or install energy and water efficient systems to combat climate change and water scarcity.

These proactive steps by restaurants can have huge impacts. Not only do our 400 restaurants serve approximately 160,000 plastic free meals every single day, but they are also leading by example. Ocean Friendly Restaurants are inspiring customers to refuse single-use plastics, seek out businesses that align with their ocean values, and are driving the industry as a whole towards less plastic waste.

Ocean Friendly Restaurants in 2019

As we take stock of the incredible success of this program over the last year, we also look toward how this program will make even bigger changes in 2019 across the country and make single-use plastics the outdated, polluting items that so often accompany our food.  

  • OFR Mobile Technology - Want to find an Ocean Friendly Restaurant near you?  It is easy now with the OFR Locator Map which can be easily installed as an app on your smartphone. Just head to go.surfrider.org/ofr-app on your phone, save it to your phone's desktop, and find Ocean Friendly Restaurants near you and across the country.

  • Preferred Vendor Program - With so many alternatives to single-use plastic, Surfrider is collaborating with companies to provide Ocean Friendly Restaurants with access to products at a discount that can help them make the transition from plastic a bit easier. 
  • Corporate Restaurant Engagement - When a restaurant group makes the switch to Ocean Friendly, they can create scalable impact that drives real solutions to the plastic pollution crisis. In 2019, the Ocean Friendly Restaurants program will actively work with restaurant chains and showcase the great strides these places are making in protection of our ocean, waves and beaches. Restaurant chains such as Pacific Catch in California, The Sustainable Restaurant Group based in Portland, and TS Restaurants are all examples of how corporate level restaurant businesses are making the commitment to the cause. 

 

So what can you do?

1.  Support your local Ocean Friendly Restaurant

By using the OFR app on your phone, you can find restaurants near you and support their business and thank them for being Ocean Friendly! go.surfrider.org/ofr-app will take you straight to the locator tool or you can find the entire list of OFR's on our website go.surfrider.org/ofr

2.  Recruit your favorite restaurant to go Ocean Friendly!

Many local Surfrider chapters actively run and manage an Ocean Friendly Restaurant program.  Find your local chapter and see how you can help recruit some of your favorite places to eat.  If you live outside of the Surfrider chapter network, you can still encourage restaurants to join the program by having them visit go.surfrider.org/ofr

3.  Practice what you preach

Bring your reusable mug when getting coffee.  Take your reusable bag to package your takeout.  Use your reusable utensils and straw instead of accepting disposable cutlery.  The more you can show that sustainable eating is easy, the more you will inspire others to follow your example and the restaurants you visit will take note as well.

As we dive into 2019, we look towards significantly expanding the number of Ocean Friendly Restaurant members across the country who are turning the tide on plastic pollution.  Coupled with Surfrider's advocacy efforts, the Ocean Friendly Restaurants program will continue to work towards a future with zero plastic in our ocean.