SOUTHEASTERN, N.C.—When the beach is your biggest selling point, it ought to be protected.
Area groups are cooperating in efforts to change unsustainable behavior and discourage single-use plastic straws in local businesses.
The price of convenience is costing our oceans.
Straws aren’t recyclable and have been found in the nasal cavities of sea turtles and other marine life. Friday is National “Skip the Straw Day,” a campaign that aims to reduce unnecessary plastic waste. Skipping out on them will barely affect the daily routine.
For one local group, straws are just the beginning. Ocean Friendly Establishments grants certifications to businesses in the Cape Fear region that make efforts to reduce plastic waste.
All a restaurant needs to do to get ocean-friendly certified is serve straws upon request. Over 40 restaurants are on board and the group is now considering adding on a more comprehensive certification system.
“I just always felt like these straws are so easy,” said Ginger Taylor, the founder of Ocean Friendly Establishments.
Taylor started the group after spending her Monday mornings combing portions of the beach with Wrightsville Beach Keep it Clean.
“This is something easy we can change,” she said.
After getting the Blockade Runner and The Oceanic on board, Taylor actually noticed a significant difference in straws during her weekly walks.
“It’s made out of plastic which doesn’t decompose, it’s around forever,” she said. “We only use it for 5-20 minutes at a time, and most people don’t need a straw.”
Keep New Hanover Beautiful, Surfrider Cape Fear Chapter and UNCW Plastic Ocean Project have bonded over a collective passion to protect the ocean from unnecessary waste. Campaigns around the region collaborate to get restaurants and businesses on board with the simple proposal to skip the straw.
“As long as we’re all doing what were can to reduce the pollution in the oceans, that’s what matters,” Taylor said.
The like-minded groups are working together to develop a more in-depth sustainability agreement for businesses to seek.
For now, Ocean Friendly Establishments is sticking with cutting out straws and focusing on getting more businesses on board.
“It’s just a matter of convenience that I don’t really need.”
Johanna Ferebee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @j__ferebee on Twitter