Northern Ohio gets chapter of Surfrider Foundation

Last April, Northern Ohio got its own chapter of the Surfrider Foundation. The Surfrider Foundation is “dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s oceans, waves and beaches through a powerful activist network.”

The chair of our local chapter is Christy Gray. Including Christy, there are seven members on the board and they have adapted the mission of the national chapter to include the Great Lakes. The chapter hosts meetings and local beach/river cleanups. In 2018, they collected over 1,600 pounds (mainly plastics) from local beach and river cleanups.

There are about 60 active members of the local chapter, and they plan to host monthly cleanups starting in March. Their next chapter meeting will be held Thursday, Feb. 28, at 6:00 p.m. at the Lucky Dog in Cleveland. After the meeting, attendees are encouraged walk over to Cleveland Public Theater to see a production called “Fire on the Water.” This acclaimed multimedia theatrical event commemorates the 50th anniversary of the 1969 burning of the Cuyahoga River, which is this year.

One of the Northern Ohio Surfrider Foundation’s newest programs is to encourage local restaurants to become a “Great Lakes Friendly Restaurant.” This voluntary accreditation has five criteria: no polystyrene foam used; only reusable tableware is used for onsite dining and disposable utensils are only provided on request; proper recycling practices are followed; no plastic bags are offered for to-go orders; and straws are available only upon request.

Restaurants must also choose two additional criteria that can include: no beverages sold in plastic bottles; discount available for customers who bring their own reusable cup/mug/bag; vegetarian/vegan food options are offered on a regular basis; all seafood must be a “Best Choice” or “Good Alternative” as defined by Seafood Watch or certified as sustainable; water conservation efforts, such as low-flow faucets and toilet are implemented; energy efficiency efforts such as LED lighting and Energy Star appliances are in place. 

The program’s purpose is to educate consumers and to promote restaurants that are taking bold steps to protect Lake Erie. The goal of the program is to stop the flow of plastic into Lake Erie at the source. By no longer providing customers plastic items, less plastic will enter our waste stream and waterways.

Restaurants that participate will be recognized in the following ways: they will receive a window decal to display to patrons, they will be included in a national database, they will be a part of Surfrider Foundation’s social media marketing with their own logo displayed, and they will be included in Surfrider Foundation’s restaurant locator app.

The Foundation would love to work with volunteers who are interested in helping to find local restaurants that would be interested in becoming certified. Email Christy Gray at  

The Surfrider Foundation is one of many local nonprofit organizations seeking to help the plastic pollution problem in Lake Erie. Please consider helping Surfrider with beach clean-ups or the Great Lakes Friendly Restaurant program. These are two simple ways you can make a big difference for our community and for Lake Erie.

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Volume 11, Issue 3, Posted 9:53 AM, 02.05.2019