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  • Michael Oshman

Restaurants Can Help Save Our Oceans

Our oceans are warming at an alarming rate, suffer from an epidemic of overfishing, and are overrun with plastic pollution. While it may seem like our daily actions do not have much of an effect on our oceans, restaurants can in fact make a difference to help preserve this precious ecosystem.

Problem: Coral reefs are in danger.

They are threatened by warming ocean temperatures, sea level rise, ocean acidification, and altered weather patterns.

How restaurants can help: Climate change causes ocean change. Restaurants can reduce their carbon footprint by using less energy. Your restaurant can reduce its energy use with these steps: LED lighting, ENERGY STAR equipment, low flow aerators on hand and prep sinks, on-site renewable energy, and much more. These steps can increase energy efficiency immensely while saving money in the process.

Problem: By 2050 there will be more plastic pollution than fish in the ocean.

How restaurants can help: Restaurants can reduce their plastic pollution in a variety of ways. First, we recommend that restaurants reduce their plastic use. Try implementing bulk condiments and purchasing more reusables (pan liners, cutlery, piping bags, straws, trays, etc.). Also, restaurants can encourage their customers to reduce their plastic us as well. By offering a reusable incentive program, customers can get discounts on orders by bringing in their own cup, container, or bag. For any disposables a restaurant still has,they should implement a recycling program. When waste is transported to landfills, it risks escaping into the environment and can eventually end up in our waterways. By recycling, waste is diverted from the landfill, and instead, reused into a new product.

Problem: Almost 80% of fish species are overexploited, depleted, or in a state collapse.

How restaurants can help: Restaurants can offer sustainable seafood. Find sustainable seafood options by utilizing resourcesfrom Monterey Bay Aquarium, Marine Stewardship Council, Aquaculture Stewardship Council, OceanWise, and SeaChoice. These organizations rate seafood options based on location, how they are caught or farmed, and type of species. If it’s impossible for a restaurant to source sustainable seafood, it may be worth adding more vegetarian menu items to help alleviate the demand for seafood products.

If you would like help implementing any of these steps, please contact the Green Restaurant Association at outreach@dinegreen.comor 617-737-4422.

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