It is no question that DC has a plethora of restaurants, but what makes some better than others? Well the food, yes, but also if they are ocean-friendly! Within our DC Chapter, the Ocean Friendly Restaurant (OFR) committee works with restaurants that meet certain criteria. Our March chapter meeting covered all the information pertaining to the Ocean Friendly Restaurant Program. If you’re interested in learning more, read below!

What is the program and why was it started?

The OFR program was started to highlight businesses that reduce plastic waste and implement sustainable business practices. One restaurant, one customer at a time, we increase awareness, drive behavior change and ultimately create scalable impact to reduce the restaurant industry’s plastic footprint.

Why do we need OFRs?

To protect our planet of course! We need restaurants to participate in this program to reduce plastic waste in the ocean, prevent plastic in our food, drinks, and air, as well as to save wildlife.

Mandatory Requirements for all OFRs:

  1. Only reusable foodware is used for onsite dining 
  2. Paper straws only provided upon request 
    • No bioplastic or compostable straws allowed (Read more about why here)
  3. No expanded polystyrene foam (styrofoam) can be used
    • DC banned foam in 2016, so this point should be in effect regardless
  4. No plastic bags are used for take out or to go orders
  5. Single use utensils, condiments, and other accessory items provided only upon request 
  6. Beverages are not sold in plastic bottles
  7. Proper recycling procedures in place 

Optional criteria (OFRs choose 3 to meet):

  • Discount is offered for customers with a reusable item 
  • Vegetarian/vegan food options are offered on a regular basis
  • Seafood is ‘Best Choice’ or ‘Good Alternative’ as defined by Seafood Watch, or certified as sustainable 
  • Energy efficient efforts are in place 
  • Water conservation and pollution mitigation efforts are implemented 
  • Concessions and pre-packaged food items are not sold in plastic packaging
  • Composting efforts in place for food waste 
  • Neither single use nor bio-based plastic containers are used for takeout purposes

Regarding the last point about bio-based plastic, bio-based plastic is not acceptable because of the complexity of managing them and the confusion this can create for everyday consumers. If not composted in an industrial facility with specific moisture and temperature conditions, these bio-based plastics can take up to 100 to 1,000 years to degrade. Over the course of that time, their environmental impact is similar to regular plastic.

With all of this being said, what’s in it for the restaurant?

If a restaurant meets the requirements listed above it will indeed get perks. Marketing collateral and opportunities for social media promotions are two benefits, but the restaurant will also be listed on the national map of OFR’s around the country.

You can find a current listing of the Ocean Friendly Restaurant in the DMV area here. If you’re around the area, we would suggest checking them out and mentioning that you chose to eat there because they are an OFR!

If you know of a restaurant in the DMV area that might be a good OFR candidate, please alert the OFR committee at OFR@surfrider.dc.org. The process of enlisting restaurants is fairly straight forward. Once they self-certify they meet the criteria, a register can fill out this form to join the program. The OFR Committee performs ongoing compliance checks to ensure all of our OFRs continue to meet the OFR criteria.

If this all sounds interesting, we encourage you to join the OFR committee and attend the OFR recruitment dinner on March 22nd – updates to come on the time and location.

The DC Chapter is also looking for a Vice Chair as well as people to join the volunteer and cleanup committees. Email chair@dc.surfrider.org for more information or with inquiries to apply!

Join us for upcoming events!

  • Sunday, March 20th – the next chapter cleanup! Follow our instagram for updates on time and location.
  • Sunday, March 26th – Rock & Roll Marathon, 7am meet up at Water Station 3 and pass out water and gatorade to runners until 11am. Sign up to volunteer here.
  • Wednesday, April 6th – Virtual chapter meeting, 7-8pm