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Earth Day: Environmental Group Highlights San Diego Restaurants Eliminating Plastic Waste

Earth Day: Environmental Group Highlights San Diego Restaurants Eliminating Plastic Waste
Earth Day: Environmental Group Highlights San Diego Restaurants Eliminating Plastic Waste
Earth Day: Environmental Group Highlights San Diego Restaurants Eliminating Plastic Waste GUESTS:Cynthia Krueger, co-chair, Surfrider Foundation's Rise Above Plastics program Sharon Berry, Green Team captain, Snooze

This is KPBS Midday Edition. I am Maureen Cavanaugh. On this Earth Day, our focus is on of the ocean. And what is going into it. Many of the plastics that we use every day from water bottles to shopping bags to plastics strives are getting up in our oceans and waterways. That debris is not biodegradable and attacked tiny bits of plastic are the main component of the Great Pacific garbage patch. So what can we do about it? The Surfrider Foundation says we can dramatically reduce our use of plastic and the organization is teaming up with restaurants that vowed to be ocean from a joining me is Cynthia Krueger, cochair of San Diego Surfrider's Rise Above Plastics committee. And Cynthia, welcome to the program. ________________________________________ Thank you. ________________________________________ Sharon Berry is also hear from Snooze eatery in Hillcrest and Snooze is one of the first restaurants to participate in the ocean friendly restaurants campaign. Sharon, welcome and thank you for coming in. ________________________________________ Thank you. ________________________________________ Cynthia, how bad is the plastic pollution at San Diego beaches and waterways? ________________________________________ Well, last year alone, 7000 volunteers with San Diego Surfrider and coast keeper picked up over 200,000 pieces of trash on San Diego County beaches and more than 80% of that was pieces of plastic. Straws, lives, cups, rappers, bags, utensils, bottle caps and so forth. ________________________________________ The pieces that do not get picked up eventually sort of breakdown through the sign and at least they do not biodegrade and they just go out and just to stay in the middle of the ocean apparently. ________________________________________ Right. Of course, our volunteers are only able to get a fraction of the plastics that ends up on our beaches and ultimately in the oceans and, yes, the problem with plastic including Styrofoam is that it does not biodegrade. It takes 500 through 1000 years to folder to grade which means it just breaks up into tinier and tinier pieces but never completely goes away ________________________________________ Why our restaurants a key component of your Rise Above Plastics campaign at Surfrider? ________________________________________ Well, some of the plastics that end up on the beaches and oceans originate with restaurants, takeout containers, plastic bags, so we are looking to work with restaurants to institute self regulated ocean friendly practices that will reduce the amount of disposable plastic waste of that they are producing and keep that off of the beaches and out of the ocean. ________________________________________ What kind of commitment to restaurants have to make in order to be designated an ocean friendly restaurant? ________________________________________ Well, we have a number of criteria that the restaurant will have to meet in order to receive certification and there are three mandatory requirement, the first is that they can use that no Styrofoam, and we -- third places can recyclable, biodegradable, or compostable and then they need to make sure that they are only using reusable tableware for on-site dining and not using any plastic cups or paper plates -- ________________________________________ For on-site dining. ________________________________________ If people are eating in a restaurant. Using something that can be washed and used again. Then we want to make sure that they are following the current law and following proper recycling practices throughout the restaurant. In addition to that, we have six other criteria and they need to meet three of those and those criteria are suchlike making sure that plastic straws are only offered on request, takeout bags are only offered on request, or customers are asked to bring their own bags and they do not sell beverages in plastic bottles so they can pick three out of the six criteria. ________________________________________ If somebody does want to take an order out, I mean, the takeout order or maybe kind of a doggie bag, is there any kind of material that investment can use and still be in compliance? ________________________________________ Well, one of the optional -- not optional criteria but one of the. Three criteria is that they use paperbacks because paper bags would be biodegradable. ________________________________________ Okay. Sharon, was a difficult for Snooze to comply with what sounds like some pretty strict requirements? ________________________________________ It was not a lot of these -- actually all of them we had met already and we were very aware of the Surfrider Foundation. Which made it exciting for us to hear about this new program. So we welcomed them with open arms and it is part of our criteria and part about policy to have some of the sustainable ideals and how we operate anyway. So it was made a great fit for the Surfrider and Snooze to come together and make a cleaner ocean. ________________________________________ Somebody orders takeout at Snooze, what do they get? ________________________________________ They get deliciously. ________________________________________ [ Laughter ] ________________________________________ Yeah. ________________________________________ And you look at that in a container that can biodegrade or composted or recyclable or a combination. You will not get it in a bag unless you ask for it or any utensils or napkins. We will not offer that to you unless you ask for it. ________________________________________ What kind of reaction have you gotten from customers on this? ________________________________________ Overall, great. It is sustainability and it is new to some people -- new to us and still learning but we do bring up things like not offering the plastics try medially of something like that, a short explanation and then they say -- we are a community and our guests -- what makes us and so we feel great about participating and doing what they can to help make this a better ocean for us all. ________________________________________ Do have any plastic forks and the back just in case? ________________________________________ We do. ________________________________________ [ Laughter ] ________________________________________ Okay. Because you never know. ________________________________________ We do. But all of our -- again, all of our materials are friendly to the environment. So we do throw some way, they are either recycle materials or combustible materials and so some trash that does go to a landfill is responsible trash. ________________________________________ Now, sitting -- Cynthiana what would you like to see patrons of other restaurants to to decrease plastic use? Carry around their own takeout containers? ________________________________________ That is a great idea and I keep a reasonable container in my car so if I go to a restaurant and I have some leftovers, I can go out to the car and get that and put the leftovers inside instead of asking for a takeout container from the restaurant which may be Styrofoam or maybe plastic or some other an environmentally friendly products. There are other things that consumers can do as well in addition to patronizing our ocean friendly restaurants which we have four certified at this point. Snooze has two locations in Hillcrest and it Delmar and also Wonderland in Ocean Beach and Bayside Landing in Pacific Beach, all certified ocean friendly so encourage you to visit those restaurants. Try to ask when you order drinks, say no thank you to the stress so they do not provide that you and you do not need a Strom us of the time so you can get by without that. Bring your own reusable bag if you're getting takeout food and refuse silverware if you are just taking it home. ________________________________________ One of them that I liked is to use your own refillable coffee mug or your own refillable beverage mug and when you go into place, you just use that instead of using whatever they would give you, you know, usually a throw away and usually a piece of plastic. ________________________________________ Yes. That is an excellent idea and in fact the number of coffee shops if you bring your own mug container, they will give you a $.10 discount on the beverage that you are purchasing. You can also, if you are ordering a coffee and you do not have the reusable cup with you, ask for it without a plastic lid and if you do not need it to be spillproof. ________________________________________ Environmentalists believe that it was a big step forward for the oceans in California what we became the first step to prohibit plastic grocery bags but of course the law is now on hold and we just heard that the city of Huntington Beach is considering repealing of plastic bag ban. Where is the city of San Diego on enacting a plastic bag prohibition? ________________________________________ Getting rid of plastic checkout bags is a very important step for the state of California has used a 13 billion plastic checkout bags a year and a lot of those do end up the ocean, where O2 a sea turtle Bay look a lot like a jellyfish so it is a big harm to ocean wildlife and the city of San Diego currently is moving forward with a plastic bag ban for the city. The city staff is preparing an environmental impact report right now, the direction of the mayor and the city Council is expected to vote on that in August or September. ________________________________________ I want to thank you both, Cynthia Krueger, cochair of San Diego Surfrider's Rise Above Plastics committee, Sharon Berry, from Snooze eatery in Hillcrest, happy Earth Day to you both.

San Diego restaurants are the target of a new Surfrider Foundation campaign to help reduce pollution at oceans and beaches.

Most of the trash on local beaches is plastic, according to Surfrider. Last year, volunteers picked up 208,000 pieces of debris, with bags, bottles, sand pails and other plastic items making up 81 percent of the haul.

Surfrider is partnering with San Diego restaurants and asking them to stop using Styrofoam, to only use reusable tableware in their dining areas and to recycle properly. Participating eateries must meet these standards and more to be certified as an “Ocean-Friendly Restaurant.”


Cynthia Krueger, co-chair of Surfrider's Rise Above Plastics campaign, said it made sense for the organization to work with restaurants because much of the litter found on beaches originates from them.

“We want to make sure they are following the current law and following proper recycling practices,” Krueger told KPBS Midday Edition on Wednesday.

Sharon Berry, captain of the Green Team at Snooze in Hillcrest, one of four restaurants to be certified as ocean-friendly, said it wasn’t difficult to follow the organization’s criteria.

“We welcome them with open arms,” Berry said. “It’s part of our criteria to have some of these sustainable ideals in how we operate.”

What Makes A Restaurant Ocean Friendly?

Restaurants participating in the Surfrider Foundation Campaign must follow these three criteria:

  1. No styrofoam use; replacements are recycled, recyclable, compostable, or biodegradable
  2. Only reusable tableware is provided for onsite dining
  3. Proper recycling practices are followed throughout the restaurant

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

  1. Plastic straws are provided only upon request
  2. Takeout food and beverage containers are recycled, recyclable, compostable, or biodegradable
  3. Takeout bags are not made of plastic
  4. Takeout bags are provided only upon request, or pickup customers are asked to bring their own takeout bags
  5. Disposable utensils for takeout food are provided only upon request
  6. No beverages sold in plastic bottles.