(Nov. 22, 2019) It’s a year filled with success for the Ocean City Green Team as the Maryland Tourism Coalition has recognized the group with its Visionary Impact Award. 

“[I am] proud and appreciative of the Green Team receiving this award,” said City Environmental Engineer Gail Blazer. “As stated before, this is a group effort.” 

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Gail Blazer

The award recognizes an individual, business, organization, group or coalition that has made a major impact with an industry project or product within the past year. 

Susan Jones, executive director of the Hotel-Motel-Restaurant association and member of the coalition, nominated the Green Team for the award. 

The city government advisory committee was recognized for its “Protect our Sand and Seas” source reduction campaign, which encourages restaurants to reduce its single-use plastic waste.

Through it, participants can commit to one or multiple pledges, and each pledge corresponds with a local animal: 

Summer Flounder — straws upon request only.

Horseshoe Crab — no plastic straws or alternatives offered.

Diamondback Terrapin — no plastic bags or Styrofoam use for takeout.

Black skimmer — no plastic or Styrofoam cups.

Harbor Seal — no plastic tableware.

The campaign bases itself on the notion of “prevention is the best cure,” and aims for restaurants to reduce their production of waste more so than recycling it. 

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Tony DeLuca

“Source reduction is proactive, recycling is reactive,” Councilman Tony DeLuca said. 

The campaign had a late start this year because of funding issues, and began its campaign in mid-July, so it currently has 42 restaurants pledged.

However, Sandi Smith, marketing and development coordinator for the Maryland Coastal Bays Program, said the group already has secured funding for next year, and will begin outreach much earlier. 

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Sandi Smith

Blazer and DeLuca thanked the Green Team and its partners, but expressed extra gratitude to the Maryland Coastal Bays Program — in particular Smith — for spearheading the initiative. 

“We are really proud to be part of a community initiative and the Green Team to create a better environment,” Smith said. 

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