Carteret County — A growing movement to reduce the amount plastic waste that ends up in our oceans has the support of several county businesses who are committed to cutting back on the use of disposable straws.
The Crystal Coast chapter of the Ocean Friendly Establishments initiative currently has more than 15 area businesses on board, and lead volunteer Jessica Holleman said the group is looking for more to sign up.
“We’ve had a pretty good response so far, but we want to get many more businesses certified,” she said.
Ocean Friendly Establishments commit to only serving plastic straws upon request. Each business that signs up is presented a certificate to display its commitment, and Ms. Holleman said she will begin distributing stickers to the businesses this week to further increase visibility of the movement.
The initiative is part of a larger push by the Wilmington-based Plastic Ocean Project to reduce overall plastic pollution in oceans. According to the organization, United States consumers throw out an estimated 500 million single-use, plastic straws every day, and many end up in our waterways and in landfills.
The Plastic Ocean Project says this is a problem because plastic straws are not recyclable and do not decompose. Plastic waste not only interferes with wildlife, but it can leech harmful chemicals into the water, soil and air.
Ms. Holleman said while it’s a small part of the larger picture, the Ocean Friendly Establishment project helps reduce plastic waste at the source.
Crystal Coast Brewing Co., with taprooms in Morehead City and Atlantic Beach, is the county’s most recent business to be certified as an Ocean Friendly Establishment.
Matt Poppe, who owns the business along with his parents Charlie and Sidney Poppe, said during the grand opening of the new taproom in Atlantic Beach that being an Ocean Friendly Establishment is just one way the business has committed to being environmentally-conscious.
“We want to do some things to minimize waste and our environmental impact,” he said.
In addition to only serving plastic straws on request, Mr. Poppe said the business only uses glassware and recycles its spent grain, a byproduct of the brewing process, by sending it to farmers who use the grain to feed animals.
Some businesses have gone above and beyond the original straw initiative by providing biodegradable containers and other eco-friendly alternatives to single-use plastic wares. Black Sheep in Beaufort, for example, provides customers with paper straws, a more environmentally-friendly option than plastic.
The businesses currently certified as Ocean Friendly Establishments in Carteret County are:
• La Perla – Beaufort
• Parrot’s on Eleventh – Morehead City
• Caribsea – Emerald Isle
• Shuckin’ Shack Oyster Bar – Morehead City
• Jackie’s American Grille – Emerald Isle
• Ruddy Duck Tavern – Morehead City
• Momentum Yoga and Wellness – Morehead City
• Circa 81 – Morehead City
• Thai Sticky Rice – Morehead City
• Black Sheep – Beaufort
• The Trading Post – Emerald Isle
• Flipperz Family Bar and Grill – Emerald Isle
• Promise’ Land Market – Morehead City
• Inn on Turner – Beaufort
• N.C. Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores
• Crystal Coast Brewing Co. – Morehead City and Atlantic Beach
Sister Ocean Friendly Establishment chapters exist along the Outer Banks and in the Cape Fear area. In total, more than 70 businesses along the North Carolina coast have committed to doing their part in reducing plastic waste.
Ms. Holleman said individuals can help spread the word by placing a small card with information on the goals of Ocean Friendly Establishments inside the bill at restaurants when they leave. Those cards can be picked up at the Coastal Community Market, 606 Broad St. in Beaufort, and the Crystal Coast Waterkeeper office, 700 Arendell St. in Morehead City.
Ms. Holleman also encourages area businesses interested in getting certified to apply at the Plastic Ocean Project’s website, plasticoceanproject.org/ocean-friendly-establishments.
Contact Elise Clouser at email@example.com; by phone at 252-726-7081 ext. 229; or follow on Twitter @eliseccnt.