References to the ocean and its inhabitants fill the pages of literature, stage and screen, music and visual arts. Conservationists spend lifetimes trying to preserve it. One human being may be no match for the mighty sea. But the human race as a whole contributes to its demise – one bottle, straw or plastic bag at a time. That’s our throwaway culture, but it doesn’t have to be this way.
The Surfrider Foundation is devoted to protecting the world’s oceans for everyone to enjoy. A vast group of supporters throughout North America includes restaurants, and those who become certified as a Surfrider Ocean Friendly Restaurant (OFR) derive a tidal wave of benefits.
Restaurants sign up to get certified as an OFR for several reasons. It usually begins with a chef or restaurateur’s desire to leave a lighter footprint on stressed natural resources and willingness to employ sustainable seafood practices, for example. As more food industry folks recognize the impact plastic has on the human food chain, they’re taking action.
There is a misconception that it’s too challenging or expansive for a restaurant to do away with single use plastics, but the rewards of doing so far outweigh the effort. Plus, it’s what diners want.
“There are so many benefits to restaurants, including recognition from the Surfrider Foundation as a leader in ocean conversation, but also because diners want to feel good about dining out and have options that support a sustainable future,” says Jennifer Hart, plastic pollution coordinator at Surfrider. “There are a number of ways they can promote their Ocean Friendly Restaurant status including stickers we supply, table tents, bill inserts, and the OFR logo they can include on their restaurant website and print on their menus – all of which help diners who seek out ocean friendly dining to recognize them as such.”
The media attention around this topic helps, too. The first OFR in an airport caught on like wildfire. It set an example that if an airport restaurant can meet the criteria to be ocean-friendly, anyone can.
“We can’t continue to use single use plastics, because the earth has had enough and we need to change,” Hart says. “We can help restaurants transition away from the single use mindset and move toward sustainable use and there are several ways restaurants can begin to make those changes.” [Read more…]