(Nov. 30, 2018) The Ocean City chapter of the Surfrider Foundation received accolades from the mayor and City Council last Monday for its “Strawless Summer Pledge” and plans to continue that initiative next year.
OC Surfrider Chairwoman Jane Robinson, Secretary Marina Feeser and volunteers Mel Harrison and Debra Heft were recognized by Mayor Rick Meehan for launching the campaign. Additionally, Councilman Tony DeLuca credited Robinson and her group for suggesting the waste reduction awareness campaign.
“She brought this idea to the Green Team [and] we brought this idea to the mayor and council,” he said. “The results have clearly exceeded our expectations … when you see the number of restaurants that have voluntarily taken this pledge.”
Robinson, however, replied that the undertaking succeeded because of the efforts of Surfriders volunteers.
“It was a lot of work and we’re really tickled with the success with 62 restaurants in town and a few out of town,” she said. “We even had some Fenwick people and we’re going to count them too.”
The Surfrider Foundation, which was established nationally in 1984 with the Ocean City chapter launching in 1999, seeks to form a “network of coastal defenders,” to help protect waterways and marine ecosystems.
Meehan read a resolution supporting the “Strawless Summer” campaign, which characterized the pledge as an effective means for reducing waste and protecting the environment.
“You see this more and more in our restaurants,” he said.
The resolution highlighted data that showed the extent of plastic straws presence (and environmental nuisance): the National Park Service estimates that about 500 million plastic straws a day are used in the U.S.
The city’s resolution noted that the half billion straws discarded each day could wrap around the planet more than twice, with a substantial portion of them ending up in oceans and its tributaries.
According to “The New Plastics Economy,” a 2016 report issued by the World Economic Forum, ocean waters contain an estimated 150 million metric tons [more than 330 billion pounds] of plastics, with an additional eight million metric tons [more than 17 billion pounds] added annually.
The report also estimated that ocean waters would contain one metric ton of plastic for every three metric tons of fish by 2025, with manmade pollution on pace to outweigh aquatic life within another quarter century.
Looking forward to expanding the roster of pledge takers next summer, Robinson said community engagement has been phenomenal.
“People come into restaurants and demand, ‘we hear you’re a strawless summer restaurant so don’t give us any straws,’” she said. “If they do somehow by mistake give them straws, we hear about it.”
In the meantime, Robinson said interested parties can still sign the strawless pledge on the group’s website.
“We’re going to keep the pledge going at least through next summer … along with other things we’re doing with the city to reduce single-use plastics,” she said.
For more information about “Strawless Summer,” check the Ocean City Surfrider Foundation’s Facebook page or visit Oceancity.surfrider.org. Anyone interested in joining the group can email firstname.lastname@example.org.