Did you know that Ocean Friendly Restaurants (OFR), a national Surfrider program with over 65 chapters participating, originally took flight right here in San Diego County? With almost 130 registered OFRs, we are proud to maintain the strongest program in the entire Surfrider chapter network. It’s an honor to present you with the secret to our success – an incredible team of passionate volunteers! 

Committed volunteers stand behind each and every one of our successful initiatives. We spotlighted our incredible OFR Program Leads in our last post, and now we’re pleased to introduce you to some of our OFR team. Click the tabs find out what drives each of them to reduce waste, one restaurant, one customer at a time!  

GretchenOceansidePier
Sunset at Oceanside Pier

I started cleaning beaches with my young kids to teach them about ocean health and stewardship. The cleanups really opened my eyes to the problem with plastics in food and drinks, as we picked up so many plastic forks and spoons, bottle caps, straws, straw wrappers for those little juice boxes, plastic bags, disposable cups and single use bottles.

Once I saw the problem, it couldn’t be unseen. I wanted to help build awareness and stop the pollution at the source, so I started talking to people in my community and learned about the Ocean Friendly Restaurants program. It was a perfect fit, as it gave me a much needed outlet to get out and make a difference.

I have learned so much from OFR leads Vicki and Kellyn, and feel like the training I received has helped me advise restaurants as well as a variety of businesses and corporations on how to reduce their plastic footprint. As a resident of Oceanside, a coastal community that welcomes tremendous crowds throughout the year, I feel that it is my civic responsibility to keep plastic waste off our streets and beaches. The Ocean Friendly Restaurant program empowers me to empower my community to “be the change” and eliminate single use plastics that could ultimately end up in our oceans.

Scripps Pier & Black’s

I joined the OFR program because it provides a unique opportunity to be active in many San Diego communities.  I enjoy the hands-on work required in the OFR program and the flexibility to contribute on my own schedule.  Restaurant compliance checks are motivating because many OFR owners already share enthusiasm for the OFR program initiatives. 

I feel the OFR program embodies the grassroots activism of the Surfrider Foundation since so many OFRs are small businesses.  This makes it easy and exciting to suggest dining options to friends when I say that we’re supporting a local business with sustainable practices.  Furthermore, now that I know of so many participating OFRs in San Diego is great motivation to get out and try them! 

 

My volunteer experience with Surfrider began with a water quality stewardship with the Northwest Straights chapter, and has led me to the wonderful Ocean Friendly Restaurant program in San Diego. The dedication that Surfrider volunteers have to our oceans, waves and beaches is so easy to appreciate, as is the food and dining experience at local restaurants.

Combining my passion for Surfrider’s mission and love of food made the OFR program a win-win. During my first OFR meeting, Vicki and Kellyn were incredibly welcoming and made jumping into compliance checks a fun process. It’s exciting to see how restaurants are making moves to protect our oceans while the community is enjoying their food. I can’t wait to work with, eat at, and certify more OFR restaurants in the future!

Sunset over Cardiff Reef
Sunset at Cardiff Reef

Russian River mouth in Jenner, CA

I joined the OFR program because it provides a unique opportunity to be active in many San Diego communities.  I enjoy the hands-on work required in the OFR program and the flexibility to contribute on my own schedule.  Restaurant compliance checks are motivating because many OFR owners already share enthusiasm for the OFR program initiatives.  I feel the OFR program embodies the grassroots activism of the Surfrider Foundation since so many OFRs are small businesses.  This makes it easy and exciting to suggest dining options to friends when I say that we’re supporting a local business with sustainable practices.  Furthermore, now that I know of so many participating OFRs in San Diego is great motivation to get out and try them! 

Sunset Cliffs

   I went to a Surfrider meeting last summer because I was sick of making myself sick thinking about so much plastic floating around. Sick of picking it up on coastal walks, sick of reading about bigger plastic factories being built in marginal communities, about sea life smothered by microplastics, sick of Big Oil continuing to run the show.

Surfrider’s Ocean Friendly Restaurant (OFR) organizers were there and I signed up because there was something direct and practical I could do immediately, and also possible to fit into a busy work schedule. Requesting restaurants to sign up for the program meant they would not use plastic in-house or for take-out. A small place to start maybe, but a useful one. All great accomplishments start with small steps. And it helped me feel less sick.

The Ocean Friendly Restaurant program is friendly in so many ways: to the ocean, to the restaurants, to the volunteers. It has been a pleasure to be involved. I look forward to continuing participating in a movement that demonstrates businesses can thrive without single-use plastics in daily life.

Capistrano Beach in Orange County

I joined the Ocean Friendly Restaurant Program for a myriad of reasons all centering around the chance to know the San Diego community and culture better. Through this, I have not only met new folks, but have seen parts of San Diego I wouldn’t have seen without it. I have learned about the efforts and the strides that the community has taken to eliminate plastic usage and have become inspired to keep the efforts going. It feels good to find a society that teaches me how to love and care for the beaches in a sustainable and wholesome way!

Fiji
Aysin enjoying “ocean friendly” tea

I am a Mediterranean kid! We used to spend two months out of the year at our beach house when we were young. The day would start with a hearty Mediterranean breakfast followed by swimming all day. We would only come home when we were hungry or got pulled out of the water by mom when our lips turned blue. I loved to swim, dive and play Marco Polo with my siblings and friends. 

Summers meant freedom, sun bathing, flirting with the boys and watching falling stars in the evenings. Falling in love, having heart breaks, salty lips and ever blonding hair were among my favorites. The fondest memories of my childhood always took place near the sea. Ever since, I have been in love with the ocean, sun and the beach. Protecting our oceans is like protecting the innocence of a child for me. I am honored to be a part of the Surfrider Foundation. Hope to contribute more once this pandemic passes!

Northern California flyover

Joining the Ocean Friendly Restaurant program was a way for me to get further engaged with Surfrider and to help reduce single-use plastic at a local level.  Working with the restaurants has allowed me to assist with plastic reduction efforts within my own community. Vicki and Kellyn’s leadership with the OFR program is inspiring, and the other volunteers are interesting, informed, and truly passionate about our oceans and beaches.

 I grew up in San Diego and caught my first wave at La Jolla Shores.  That moment led to a personal connection with the ocean that continues to this day. Whether it’s surfing, exploring low tide areas, or swimming in La Jolla Cove, the ocean is a critical piece of who I am.

 I am proud to be involved with the Surfrider Foundation and look forward to the continued success of the OFR program and the other Surfrider initiatives underway!

Point Loma

I lived in Bangalore, India for the last 6 years.  Bangalore is a huge city with crumbling infrastructure – there, I saw that there is really no OUT when we throw our trash out.  When we moved back to the US, I felt that I wanted to do something about reducing single use plastic items here.  I was really thrilled to find Surfrider and all the good work being done to reduce trash.  Surfrider really supports all their claims with solid research and the messaging is very well thought out.  In fact, a friend and I have now started a business where we are trying to help schools reduce single use items by providing them with reusable trays and utensils on a daily basis.  If you piled up all the single use trays that American school children throw out on a daily basis, you would get a stack that is as high as 15 Mt. Everests – in ONE day!  When schools reopen, I’m hoping to reduce this daily stack of trash with my reusables business!

“Drowning in Plastic”

I have been cleaning the same stretch of beach in Carlsbad several times a week for over 7 years. In that time, I have picked up thousands of single-use plastic items, including utensils, take-away cups and lids, straws and stirrers, and bits and pieces of expanded polystyrene (Styrofoam) take-out containers. 

My first-hand experience with the debris washing up on local beaches caused me to seek avenues for advocacy. I connected with Surfrider San Diego Foundation a couple of years ago when I was working on a Straws on Request Campaign in Oceanside. Since then, I have become more involved with Surfrider and the Ocean Friendly Restaurants (OFR) program, which I’ve found to be a powerful way to support change and raise awareness.

As a North County resident, I am excited about introducing the OFR program to restaurants in this area, and even though much of our work is temporarily on pause due to the Covid-19 crisis, I’m looking forward to moving ahead with even more energy and enthusiasm when the time is right. Ultimately, the Ocean Friendly Restaurants program offers solutions that will benefit businesses while positively impacting the environment.

Website: ShoreSweep

Facebook: ShoreSweep

Instagram: @janisselbyjones #shoresweep

For more about Janis and the “Drowning in Plastic” portrait, please visit Beautiful—We.

A huge thank you to all the amazing, passionate volunteers who make the success of our Ocean Friendly Restaurants program possible! You are the heart & soul of our organization!