Members of the Suncoast Rise Above Plastics Coalition will honor Heilman’s Beachcomber and Bobby’s Bistro & Wine Bar as Clearwater’s first Ocean Friendly Businesses in a ceremony that took place last Friday.

The Ocean Friendly Business certification is a nationally recognized designation created by the Surfrider Foundation that recognizes businesses who have taken proactive steps to decrease their plastic waste production in defense of marine life, coasts and waterways.

To earn certification as an Ocean Friendly Business, businesses must find alternatives to single-use plastic bags and styrofoam containers, implement a recycling program, offer plastic lids and straws only upon request, and install turtle-friendly lighting if located on the beach. Businesses must also pick from a list of other criteria to meet other levels, such as platinum-level certification.

The Suncoast Rise Above Plastics Coalition is 17 organizations working together to protect our shared marine environment by decreasing the harmful impact of single-use plastics like carry-out bags, styrofoam, and drinking straws.

The Coalition’s three-pronged approach to decreasing disposable plastic usage in the Tampa Bay Area includes:
• educating consumers on how to use less disposable plastics in their day-to-day lives,
• recruiting and certifying businesses as Ocean Friendly Businesses that recycle and agree to forgo the use of plastic bags, styrofoam takeout containers, plastic straws and lids, and more for higher level certification,
• encouraging citizens to work with their elected officials in pursuit of environmentally friendly policies.