Did you know that 500 million straws are used in the United States every day? These single use plastics — which are built to last, some for thousands of years — contribute to the approximately 8 million tons of plastic pollution that reach our oceans annually.
It was facts and figures like these that weighed heavily on the mind of Pallava Goenka, regional managing director of Specialty Restaurants Corporation (SRC), which operates Miami’s iconic waterfront dining destination, Rusty Pelican.
Thus, he began the effort to eliminate the use of plastic straws, as well as plastic to-go containers, utensils, and kid’s cups, and plastic coffee pods at the restaurant. Instead of plastic straws, patrons will be offered a more environmentally friendly paper straw upon request.
Takeaway containers and utensils will be replaced with a biodegradable paper alternative; doggie bags will be packed in reusable tote bags, and children’s cups now will be paper rather than plastic. They are even replacing coffee pods with fresh brewed coffee.
The #MiamiIsNotPlastic campaign, is a joint effort between Rusty Pelican and its neighboring sister restaurant Whisky Joe’s, and Rickenbacker Marina. The marina already has stepped up, eliminating the use of all Styrofoam and single use plastics at its office, retail, and convenience store.
“Our goal is to reduce the single use plastic foot print. Because of our waterfront location we are especially sensitive to how plastic harms marine life and clogs up the bay and ocean,” Goenka said. “By January 2018 we will expect to be compliant and ready to launch this initiative. It’s our hope that other F&B operators in Miami will join this effort.”
In an effort to create a “Plastic Free Key,” both Rickenbacker Marina and the two restaurants have joined to promote environmental responsibility among local restauranteurs, retailers, and the general public.
In collaboration with local civic partner, Debris Free Oceans, the plastic-free partnership will be hosting an event at the Rusty Pelican located at 3201 Rickenbacker Causeway in Key Biscayne on Wednesday, Jan. 10, at 6:30 p.m. Local retailers and restaurateurs, along with the general public, will have the opportunity to meet with eco-friendly vendors and speakers, and learn more about how they can get involved. According to Goenka, the goal is to educate, entertain, and promote environmental awareness and responsibility.
To participate in #MiamiIsNotPlastic, restaurants, bars, marinas and other establishments need to commit to replacing single use disposable plastic items with ocean-friendly alternatives such as recycled paper, bamboo, stainless steel or glass. Ensuring a plastic alternative is available for customers is a key element to this program.
Among the organizations and city officials expected to take part in the program and attend the Jan. 10 kickoff to date are: Debris Free Ocean, Key Biscayne Mayor Mayra Pena Lindsay, Coral Gables City Commissioner Vince Lago, Key Biscayne Chamber of Commerce, FRLA (Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association), Bacardi, Dade Paper, Jackson Family Winery, SaltWater Brewery, Surfrider Foundation, Lean Orb, Lonely Whale, Marjory Stoneman Douglas Biscayne Nature Center, VolunteerCleanUp.Org, and Miami Waterkeeper. Other organizations and government officials are still pending confirmation.