Ocean Friendly Restaurants to expand on the Treasure Coast

Ocean Friendly Restaurants to expand on the Treasure Coast (WPEC)

Plastic is used every day all over the world.

According to the Surfrider Foundation, an international non-profit organization, 80 percent of plastic in our oceans comes from land based sources.

"It's so important to get these plastics out of our waterways," said Lisa Beagle, the Vice Chair of the Treasure Coast Surfrider Chapter.

Beagle explained the organization works on ocean advocacy.

"We make people aware of the problems try to find solutions," she said.

The Treasure Coast Surfrider Chapter started a few years ago, but died down. This year, it's building some traction. Their first initiative for the new year is Ocean Friendly Restaurants.

"It's not even necessarily you have to rid your restaurant of those things," Beagle said. "We're just saying don’t offer them."

She's hoping people will turn to other alternatives, like Gilbert's Coffee Bar in Stuart has. They're the first official Ocean Friendly Restaurant on the Treasure Coast.

"We have hay straws for to-go orders and for dine-in, we have glass straws," said Brendan Rogan, the Co-Owner of Gilbert's Coffee Bar. "We found hay straws hold up better over time than paper straws. It's different, but well received by our customers."

Rogan said when it comes to cups, they have paper ones for hot drinks and plant-based ones for cold drinks. He said this is something they had when they opened four months ago before partnering with Surfrider.

"Being located right on the St. Lucie River, it’s the economic life blood of the region," he said. "It only made sense for us to have those options available."

Rogan is hoping this will inspire others to go plastic free.

"We hope that it sets up a ripple effect throughout the area," he said. "You just have to take five small steps to preserve our rivers, beaches and the community."

Now, Beagle and the rest of the local chapter are working to get more Treasure Coast restaurants to join the initiative. She said they're also promoting the United State and Oceans of America Campaign. The symbol for that is a flag with waves instead of straight lines.

"It's basically saying we're united to bring the oceans back into focus," she said.

Beagle said they are looking for other people in the community to help make a difference. If you are a restaurant owner wanting to join the mission, a community member who wants to volunteer or someone who just wants to learn more about them, click here.

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