By Nina Wu
Restaurants in Hawaii can still offer takeout in polystyrene foam clamshells and plastic bags, but some are opting not to.
On World Oceans Day today (June 8, 2016), certified Ocean Friendly Restaurants, part of a new initiative launched by various non-profit groups, will offer discounts and specials if you feature them with #oceanfriendlyhi.
The Surfrider Foundation, in partnership with the Maui Huliau Foundation and Kokua Hawai‘i Foundation and Rise Above Plastics Coalition, is celebrating the statewide launch of the Ocean Friendly Restaurants program today.
It’s a restaurant that has agreed to reduce the amount of disposable plastics it offers to customers and to make sincere efforts to adopt sustainable practices for the health of our oceans.
Restaurants must, for example, agree not to use polystyrene foam for food take-out containers and offer reusable tableware for in-house diners (many offer in-house diners disposables out of convenience) as well as follow proper recycling practices. There is no fee to participate.
They must also follow at least three of the following five practices:
> Offer plastic straws only upon request or replace them with compostable straws;
> Offer all recyclable or compostable take-out beverage containers;
> Provide non-plastic takeout bags only upon request;
> Provide only compostable utensils for take-out upon request;
> Agree not sell beverages in plastic bottles.
“All of us need to have responsibility, whether it’s the producer or the consumer or the government,” said Rafael Bergstrom, Oahu chapter coordinator of the Surfrider Foundation. “The only way we’re going to make change getting single-use products out of our waste stream is if it’s bought into at all levels.”
While consumers are still encouraged to say no to straws, bring their own reusable water bottles and bags, Surfrider wanted to recognize businesses that were “doing the right thing already," even if not legally required to do so.
The new program started with Surfrider’s San Diego chapter and began making its way across the isles in April.
On Maui, some popular spots include the Market Fresh Bistro in Makawao, Cafe Des Amis in Paia and Bamboo Fresh in Lahaina and in Hilo, Pineapple's Fresh Island Cuisine and Le Magic Pan.
The focus is currently on reducing plastic pollution from getting into the waste stream, and not so much on sourcing food from local farms or sustainable seafood, though many Ocean Friendly Restaurants also adopt those practices. Down the line, Bergstrom said the initiative might recognize these as well.
Participating restaurants get a “We Are an Ocean Friendly Restaurant” decal to display, promotion via the website and Facebook page and rack cards to help educate customers. Volunteers from the non-profit groups are certifying the restaurants. Nominations are accepted online at oceanfriendlyrestaurantshawaii.org.
Follow @oceanfriendlyrestaurants on Instagram for updates.