It’s pre-dawn; you’ve just wiggled into your wettie, made your way out past the break and are enjoying the serene nature of early morning at sea. To your left, a pelican glides over the water. To your right, a plastic coffee lid bobs in the tide. Behind you, the sun breaks over the mountains and below you, a plastic bag is tangled in your leash.

All too familiar–we know. The impact of our plastic pollution on the ocean is immeasurable and, as an organization, our proximity to the coast allows us to see it up close on the daily. How do we stop this? How do we prevent lids and straws and bags from ending up in our precious water? How do we educate people on the harms of single-use plastic?

Credit: Ben Kay

From these daunting questions, the Surfrider Ocean Friendly Restaurants program was born. Celebrating its second year (and roughly 450 establishments nationwide), our mission is to prevent pollution before it happens by educating restaurants and restaurant-goers on methods to minimize their waste output. By providing these coastal establishments with the resources needed to make a cost-efficient transition to sustainable practices, we are helping to build a community of like minded local businesses and individuals keen on maintaining a debris-free sea.

OUR PROCESS
Becoming registered is easy and it is SO RAD when restaurants approach us wanting to change their methods. What many restaurants don’t realize is that they might only need to make one or two changes to qualify. To kickstart the process, our team of volunteers will meet with the restaurant manager for a ‘walk-through’ to help pinpoint any practices that can be improved. We then provide the establishment with the appropriate resources to make those adjustments and, once implemented, we welcome them to the Ocean Friendly Restaurants family (yew, yew!!).

THE MANDATORIES

To become an Ocean Friendly, the restaurant must adhere to the following:

  • Enforce a ‘no styrofoam’ policy
  • Implement reusable tableware for all onsite dining; to-go utensils provided only upon request
  • Follow proper recycling practices
  • Ensure no plastic bags are distributed for takeout orders

In addition to those mandatories, we provide the establishment with a list of suggested practices, which range from reducing water to serving vegetarian options and sustainable seafood.

ON THE QUEUE
As we grow, our efforts are focused on maintaining strong relationships with our current OFRs while gearing up to add and support new ones. The list of “almost ocean friendly” restaurants is long. Really long. Which excites us because we know that in time, each of those restaurants will proudly be boasting an Ocean Friendly Restaurant badge in their window.

Visit our Ocean Friendly Restaurants map to find one near you!

I LIKE FOOD, I LIKE THE OCEAN. SIGN ME UP!

Man, oh, man – so many ways to help! Come to one of our monthly chapter meetings and learn more about specific ways you can aid our efforts, whether it be community outreach, event planning, social marketing, product recommendations – the list goes on.

Know of a restaurant that you’d like to register as Ocean Friendly? Put us in touch!

Want to help but don’t have a lot time? Dine at an Ocean Friendly Restaurant, mind your consumption and share the knowledge. In time, you’ll be geeking out over paper straws and compostable plastics with the rest of us at Surfrider.

LEARN MORE


A huge thank you to ByLand’s Lindsey Jurca and William Durland as well as Sarah Lee for the fantastic video! It proudly features a whole bunch of our Surfrider volunteers, members, and the wonderful staff of our go-to Ocean Friendly Restaurants.