According to the Surfrider Foundation, researchers estimate that there are now over 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic in the ocean with the number continuing to grow every day. From top to bottom, marine life in every part of the food chain is negatively affected by plastic fragments, even the tiniest forms of plankton. The Surfrider Foundation’s Ocean Friendly Restaurants is a program that aims to eliminate one of the main sources of the problem: single-use, disposable plastics like straws, takeout containers and even styrofoam. Ocean Friendly restaurants aren’t just eco-friendly businesses, they are environmental stewards who are helping to change the industry one piece of plastic at a time.
A handful of Asbury Park restaurants who are aligned with the Jersey Shore chapter of Surfrider are getting on board and there’s still more to come. One of the shoretown’s most successful year-round eateries, Langosta Lounge states on their website that they show “unwavering support of environmental organizations […] that work to protect their coastlines and marine environments,” so it’s no surprise to see them on top of the list that also includes Pop’s Garage, Asbury Park Yacht Club, and Catering by Marilyn.
In order to be recognized as an Ocean Friendly restaurant, the business must meet the following criteria from each section:
There are four criteria that a bar or restaurant must meet:
No expanded polystyrene use (aka styrofoam)
Proper recycling practices are followed
Only reusable tableware is used for onsite dining and utensils for to-go food are provided only upon request
No plastic bags offered for takeout or to-go orders.
Then, the restaurant must choose a minimum of three of these criteria:
Plastic straws are provided only upon request
No beverages sold in plastic bottles
Discount offered for customers with reusable cup, mug, bag, etc.
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 or certified as sustainable
Water conservation efforts such as low-flow faucets and toilets
Energy efficiency efforts such as LED lighting and Energy Star appliances
Once the restaurants have been certified as Ocean Friendly it is an easy way to show their support for ocean conservation and join a community of likeminded people. Ever the trailblazers, the folks of Asbury Park’s food industry have already begun to make some seriously big waves.