My husband, Jim, and I recently took a quick, overnight trip to Miami. It was our first time in the city – we didn’t have nearly enough time to properly explore and enjoy, but we fit in as much as we could.
One of the very first things we noticed was what a CLEAN city and beach it was – at least the parts we were in. After living in Palm Coast for a few years – litter everywhere has, sadly, become normal to us. The little part of the beach by our hotel was spotless. No plastic straws – they are banned. No cigarette butts. No washed up boxer-briefs (I’m looking at your Flagler Beach – I pick-up way more men’s underwear on the beach then anyone should have to). No plastic cups, no styrofoam pieces – none of it.
Maybe being a big city they have more money to invest in keeping their city clean? Whatever the reason, the cleanliness of the city was impressive and made our little getaway even more relaxing and future getaways will be to locales that have a plastics ban in place.
Part of the lack of litter might have to with the plastic straw and stirrer ban Miami has passed. It was wonderful to not have to pre-screen restaurants over their plastics policy. I didn’t have to ask servers to not put a straw in our drinks. I could go to any restaurant and order drinks without worry about plastic being shoved into my glass despite being asked not to. It seems like such a little thing – a plastic straw – but that one little thing has caused us to not support many of our own local establishments.
In our area, restaurants that care about the environment are few and far between. Instead, we are surrounded by places that care more about their bottom line than they do about our planet. For a while, we would still go to some of these places and bring our own straws and carry-out containers. It sounds silly – but at least this way we weren’t adding to the problem. What we came to realize is, that despite being owned by locals, these establishments aren’t very concerned with the well-being and cleanliness of their section of sidewalk, pier or beach.
We made the tough decision to give up several of our favorite haunts and support those businesses that hold the same environmental values we do. Quite a few places in our area have lost business due to hurricanes the past couple of years and road reconstruction – they have good food and service, but they don’t seem to care about the environment. Being a local business owner myself, supporting locally owned establishments is important to me, but now we only support those who choose to support our planet’s health.
I don’t expect them to make the investment into buying paper straws (the few additional pennies in cost could easily be passed onto customers), just STOP giving out plastic ones. The vast majority of customers don’t need one, and the ones that do, like myself, would likely carry their own if plastic ones weren’t provided. Maybe have reusable straws available for purchase as an option.
One tool we have found invaluable over the last few months is Dream Green Volusia’s list of eco-friendly restaurants. There are only a couple listed in Flagler County – we would love to see that change! (not on the list but 2 other eco-friendly places we love are Flagler Fish Company and Moonlight Brewing)
Do you own, work at, or know of other eco-friendly restaurants around us? Let us know – we’re always looking for more local businesses we can support – especially if they have great food!