San Diego County Chapter


Our Love for the Ocean Doesn't Stop When We Leave the Beach...

Plastic pollution is suffocating our ocean and the many animals that call it home. Researchers estimate up to 11 million metric tons of plastic waste is entering the ocean every year and that by 2025, 11 billion metric tons will have accumulated in the environment. This pollution is impacting our marine ecosystems, wildlife such as seabirds, dolphins, fish, and turtles, and plastic fragments are even displacing plankton at the base of the food chain. So what’s the best way to combat this global epidemic facing our ocean? It’s simple: we need to stop the problem at its source! The Surfrider Foundation’s Ocean Friendly Restaurants program does just that. One restaurant, one customer at a time, increases awareness, drives change in behavior and ultimately creates scalable impact to reduce our plastic (and water!) footprint.

Dine at an Ocean Friendly Restaurant in San Diego County

What Makes a Restaurant "Ocean Friendly?"

The Ocean Friendly Restaurants program offers restaurants an easy way to show their commitment to making sustainable choices for our ocean. Interested in becoming a Surfrider Ocean Friendly Restaurant Member? 

Mandatory Criteria (All 7 Required):

  1. Only reusable foodware is used for onsite dining.*
  2. Paper straws are provided only upon request.**
  3. No expanded polystyrene use (aka Styrofoam).
  4. No plastic bags are used for takeout or to-go orders.
  5. Single-use utensils, straws, condiments, and other accessory items are provided only upon request.
  6. Beverages are not sold in plastic bottles.
  7. Proper recycling practices are followed.
* Foodware includes dinnerware, drinkware, silverware, and ramekins/containers.

** Exceptions may be made for naturally occurring materials (e.g. hay, bamboo) and reusables (e.g. metal, glass), not including bio-based plastic. Straws should be provided to anyone who needs one, including people with disabilities.

Check out our Quick Guide for more tips to meet each of the criteria. 

Review our Ocean Friendly Foodware Guide to learn about greenwashing, product alternatives, and creative ways to implement more reusables.

NEW – Bioplastic guidance for OFRs.

Optional Criteria (Choose At Least 3):

  1. A discount is offered for customers with a reusable item (e.g. cup, container, bag).
  2. Vegetarian and vegan food options are offered on a regular basis.
  3. All seafood is ‘Best Choice’ or ‘Good Alternative’ as defined by Seafood Watch, or no seafood is served.*
  4. Water conservation and pollution mitigation efforts are implemented.**
  5. Energy efficiency efforts are in place.***
  6. Concessions and pre-packaged food items are not sold in plastic packaging.
  7. Composting efforts are in place for food waste.
  8. Neither single-use plastic nor bio-based plastic containers are used for takeout or to-go orders, reusable containers are preferred.

* Locally sourced, sustainable seafood is preferred and should be prioritized when Seafood Watch recommendations do not apply.

** Examples include installing low-flow faucets and toilets, offering drinking water upon request only, no hosing down outside to reduce urban runoff, proper disposal of FOG, and up-to-date septic or sewage to prevent wastewater pollution.

*** Examples include switching to LED lighting, installing solar panels, using Energy Star certified appliances and/or other efforts to use less energy.

Restaurants who meet all of the criteria are recognized as a Platinum Level Ocean Friendly Restaurant.

How Can You Help?

  • Show your support by frequenting our registered Ocean Friendly Restaurants and letting them know you found them on the OFR webpage. 
  • Ask for water and other drinks in a reusable glass instead of plastic. 
  • Bring your own reusable mug for coffee, and remember to ask for a reusable mug when ordering “for here.” 
  • Bring a reusable bottle to avoid purchasing plastic bottles of water. 
  • If you think you may have leftovers, bring your own reusable container from home instead of getting a disposable one from the restaurant. 
  • Always bring your own bag when picking up takeout.
  • Say “no straw” whenever you order a drink (even takeout & drive-thru), and take the No Straw Pledge.
  • Register your favorite restaurant – anyone can become part of the OFR team and register restaurants in their community. Join us at a committee meeting to find out exactly how the process works!

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