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By Eryka Forquer

In its efforts to reduce plastic waste and promote ocean sustainability, Surfrider Foundation is scheduled to hold a Zoom meeting for its Ocean Friendly Restaurant program on May 18.   

The webinar will feature Surfrider staff members Rachael Coccia and Jennifer Hart, who are the plastic pollution manager and plastic pollution coordinator, respectively. Coccia and Hart will give an overview of the program and its latest changes.

“We’re excited to announce criteria updates and membership optional fees to the OFR program that will help eliminate more plastic and make it easier for volunteers to sign up and restaurants to participate,” Surfrider said in a press release. 

The current criteria established by Surfrider aims to lessen the amount of plastic that restaurants use for straws, single-use utensils, takeout orders, cups and other products. Participating businesses must adhere to seven required and three optional guidelines.   

According to Surfrider’s OFR program, the 11 million tons of plastic waste that enters the ocean each year impacts marine ecosystems. Plastic contains toxic chemicals that are ingested by marine wildlife and transferred to our food. The OFR advocates for locally sourced seafood, which is defined by Seafood Watch as “Best Choice” or “Good Alternative.” 

The Ocean Friendly Restaurant program was launched in 2013 and aims to establish “eco-conscious” restaurants that limit their consumption of single-use plastic. OFR, a network of 672 restaurants nationwide, offers ocean-friendly logos, national vendor discounts, collaborative promotions and other benefits for participating businesses.

The meeting next week will also highlight volunteer opportunities and ways the OFR program is being implemented locally. Danielle Kuhn, the chef and owner of the “Ocean Friendly” Maison Cafe + Market, will illustrate her business’s practices.

The Ocean Friendly Restaurant meeting, accessible to the public, will be held on Zoom at 6:30 p.m. A link to the meeting can be found here.

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