Ocean Friendly Restaurants

Surfrider Foundation is fed up with pollution. As a response to increased plastic pollution in the coastal zone and ocean gyres, Surfrider Foundation, Virginia Beach Chapter is implementing an Ocean Friendly Restaurants program in Coastal Virginia. A main goal is eliminating EPS foam foodware (aka Styrofoam), plastic straws and utensils, because they are top items found at our beach cleanups. There are other types of pollution and issues that restaurants can help with so we added criteria such as conserving water and serving responsible food.

Why do we need Ocean Friendly Restaurants?

EPS foam foodware (cups, plates, ‘clamshells’, etc.), plastic straws and plastic utensils are frequently found at Surfrider Foundation beach cleanups. These are all items that are used by many restaurants in our area.

EPS foam does not biodegrade in our lifetimes. It may photodegrade and/or break into small pieces if littered, which are harder to clean up. Animals can mistake EPS foam for food or nesting materials and although inexpensive to buy, EPS foam litter can be expensive to clean up.

Americans use an estimated 500 million plastic straws and 100 million plastic utensils every day. They are not recyclable in our area and they can also break down into microplastics over time. Straws and utensils are often listed in the top ten items found during the International Coastal Cleanup.

Restaurants participating in the Virginia Chapter OFR Program MUST follow these three criteria:

1. No expanded polystyrene use (aka Styrofoam).

2. Proper recycling practices are followed.

3. Plastic straws are provided only upon request and never wrapped in plastic.

And choose a minimum of three of these criteria as well:

4. Water conservation efforts such as saving water in a drought, no hosing down outside without capturing the water to reduce urban runoff, and/or proper disposal of FOG (fats, oil and grease) to conserve water and help reduce sewage spills.

5. Only reusable tableware is used for onsite dining and biodegradable utensils for to-go food are provided only upon request.

6. No beverages sold in plastic bottles.

7. Discount offered for customers with reusable cup, mug, bag, etc.

8. No plastic bags offered for takeout or to-go orders.

9. Organic, local, and/or vegetarian/vegan food options are offered on a regular basis. All seafood must be a ‘Best Choice’ or ‘Good Alternative’ as defined by Seafood Watch.

10. Energy efficiency efforts are implemented where possible: solar water heater, LED lighting, etc.

Implement 10 or more of the criteria to be recognized as a Platinum Level Ocean Friendly Restaurant!

The following criteria are optional, but well worth implementing:

Ocean Friendly Restaurants will receive a sticker for their window, a framed certificate of recognition, shout-outs on our social media sites and a link on this page.

Contact our Rise Above Plastics Coordinator if you are interested in becoming an Ocean Friendly Restaurant in Virginia. rapcoordinator@vb.surfrider.org

Please support our local Ocean Friendly Restaurants!