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Four Ways to Reduce Plastic Waste Amidst a Global Pandemic

Due to the pandemic, the great progress we made in reducing plastic use is reversing. As reported by the World Economic Forum, Forbes and The Economist, single use plastic packaging is soaring, particularly in the medical and food sectors. Plastic bags, forks, containers and bags as well as plastic gloves and masks are plaguing our sidewalks, waterways and beaches. Laurent Lombard of Opération Mer Propre in France warns that soon, there may be more masks in the ocean than jellyfish. To make matters worse, some states have reversed bans and fines on plastic bags, bottles and other items wrongly stating that reusable materials spread the virus more effectively than plastic materials, which has been scientifically disproven

To counter this situation, we encourage you to not only participate in Plastic-Free July, but also take four easy actions to reduce your plastic footprint tailored to the Washington, D.C. area: 

Order from a registered Ocean-Friendly Restaurant or other zero-waste restaurant!
There are two useful tools to ensure you are supporting businesses that value sustainability and reduce waste at the same time.

  1. Use Surfrider Foundation’s map to find and patronize a restaurant that participates in our Ocean Friendly Restaurant program (learn more about this program here) near you.
  2. Download the Find Green app to find eco-friendly cafes and coffee shops throughout the DC area. Cafes like Rasa, SweetGreen, ChaiaTacos, Shouk , HipCityVeg, Vegetable and Butcher and Comet are trying to reduce plastic by using paper (not plastic) bags and implementing other sustainability efforts. 

Use a zero-waste food delivery service!
If you prefer delivery over take-out, there are some great options that ensure less waste. UberEats does not use plastic bags or provide plastic utensils as their default. GrubHub does provide plastic bags and utensils, but you can easily opt out. Postmates started identifying “ocean friendly restaurants” including Rasa.

Opt for a grocery delivery service that does not use plastic bags!
Mason & Greens is a relatively new limited supply zero waste grocery that delivers in the DC area. Many CSAs, including Hungry Harvest & Imperfect Foods, which not only reduce food waste by delivering fruits and veggies that would normally get thrown away due to imperfections in appearance, are also reducing plastic waste by not using plastic bags. Takoma Park Natural Food Co-op is offering online ordering with outdoor pickup using boxes and paper bags. I'm Eddie Cano restaurant and grocer is not using plastic bags and has several items that are refillable. Additionally, many of these options source their produce and other food items locally, reducing the overall carbon footprint for production.

Speak up! Ask for “No plastic please!”
When ordering from any business, simply ask for “no plastic bags, containers or utensils please.” For example, Amazon, Instacart, and locally owned Rodman’s and Magruders, all use plastic bags as their default option; however, you can request no plastic bags as you check out or through their customer service. The more businesses hear this request, the sooner they will adopt plastic-free policies.

For more information on sustainable take-out options, check out this Surfrider Foundation blog. And for more info about plastic safety, see this Surfrider Foundation article.

We hope you find this post and resources helpful for you and your family! 

Leah Karrer Co-founder, FindGreen
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Empowering consumers to make sustainable choices 

Sydney Swanson 
Ocean Friendly Restaurants Coordinator| Surfrider Foundation, DC Chapter