Plastic is a problem before it reaches the beach. Extraction, production, consumption, and disposal all carry series environmental and humanitarian consequences. Single-use plastic is particularly detrimental as bags, bottles, straws, expanded polystyrene foam, and food wrappers consistently top the list of items our volunteers collect at cleanups.
While the problem may be complex, the solution is simple - we need to stop plastic at the source! The Surfrider Foundation’s Great Lakes Friendly Restaurants program does just that. We recognize restaurants that are committed to cutting out wasteful single-use plastic and offer a simple, straightforward framework to help them make sustainable choices for our lakes and waterways. The larger we grow our network of Ocean Friendly leaders, the more mainstream the concept of plastic-free becomes.
The Great Lakes Friendly Restaurants program is a regional spin off Surfrider's Ocean Friendly Restaurants program. We're building a community of like-minded restaurants we can promote, support, and lift up as examples of success to influence plastic reduction legislation. Interested in becoming a member of Surfrider's Great Lakes Friendly Restaurants? Sign up below!
To learn more about the national Ocean Friendly Restaurants program, including plastic pollution facts and restaurant registration benefits, click here.
Mandatory Criteria (All 7 Required):
* Foodware includes dinnerware, drinkware, silverware, and ramekins/containers.
** Exceptions may be made for naturally occurring materials (e.g. hay, bamboo) and reusables (e.g. metal, glass), not including bio-based plastic. Straws should be provided to anyone who needs one, including people with disabilities. Read more here.
Optional Criteria (Choose At Least 3):
* Locally sourced, sustainable seafood is preferred and should be prioritized when Seafood Watch recommendations do not apply.
** Examples include installing low-flow faucets and toilets, offering drinking water upon request only, no hosing down outside to reduce urban runoff, proper disposal of FOG, and up-to-date septic or sewage to prevent wastewater pollution.
*** Examples include switching to LED lighting, installing solar panels, using Energy Star certified appliances and/or other efforts to use less energy.
Restaurants who meet all of the criteria are recognized as a Platinum Level Great Lakes Friendly Restaurant.