Posted Jan 28th, 2020 in Foodie Fodder
Removing plastics from the ocean is a challenge for everyone who believes in preserving the planet. Fortunately, the non-profit, Plastic Ocean Project (POP) was founded in 2012 as a collaborative effort to address this issue and raise awareness.
Because of the growth of plastic use, eight million tons of it enter the ocean each year; much of this is single-use items such as straws, to-go containers and grocery bags. Because of the high use of disposable plastics in the food industry, one of POP’s key initiatives is to get restaurants on board.
Restaurants can acquire ocean-friendly certification if they meet certain requirements outlined on the POP website. The process is self-regulated and dependent on honest input from business owners answering questions to determine eligibility. The number one requirement is that establishments agree to only serve straws if requested by customers.
Eateries are rated according to how many criteria they meet. If two to three criteria are met, the establishment receives a one-star rating. The more ocean-friendly a restaurant is, the higher it is rated. Businesses that meet ten or more criteria can promote themselves as five-star-rated, ocean-friendly establishments.
In Downtown Wilmington there are around 20 restaurants that are certified ocean-friendly with many more working toward this goal. Of those listed on the POP website, four downtown establishments are in the five-star category: The Basics in the Cotton Exchange, A Slice of Life on Market Street, Taste the Olive and Vine at the corner of North 3rd and Princess Streets and Rx Restaurant on Castle Street. These businesses are to be commended for doing their part to help reduce the amount of plastic entering the ocean.
Up to 80 percent of marine debris is plastic that has made its way into the ocean through run-off from the land. Every piece of plastic ever made still exists today because plastic does not biodegrade. It may break down into smaller particles but this makes the problem greater because smaller pieces are harder to remove from the ocean.
A long-term goal of the POP is to prevent plastics from entering the ocean and find ways to remove plastic from the ocean. Collaboration, education and outreach go a long way toward finding solutions.
Supporting ocean-friendly establishments is one of many ways you can do your part. If your favorite downtown restaurant is not on the list, perhaps you could start a conversation with the owners about ways to become more ocean-friendly.
Castle Street Arts and Antique District
500 Castle Street
Wilmington, NC 28401
The Cotton Exchange
321 N Front St
Wilmington, NC 28401