Happy (Day After) Earth Day, Friends! - Marina Arts District in Corpus Christi, TX

Apr 23, 2019

By: Alexandra Scott

Happy Day After Earth Day, Friends!

In honor of Earth Day and CCBlissBox’s April Care for Corpus Challenge, I’m here to let you all know about some fun, eco-friendly things happening in Downtown Corpus Christi.

First off, yesterday, in celebration of Earth Day, Omni Hotels (including our lovely Omni Corpus Christi Hotel) nixed plastic straws in favor a paper straws. This initiative extends to every single Omni hotel and we couldn’t be more excited about their new eco-friendly direction.

Secondly, Peace of Mind Massage Therapy and Natural Healing is now a certified salon. This means, because of their commitment to the environment and not using harmful chemicals they are now using an all organic hair coloring line called Organic Colour Systems. Organic is made up of 60% organic and 95% naturally derived ingredients, is vegan-friendly and cruelty-free! Go Peace of Mind!

Lastly, I’d like to tell you about an amazing program started by the Surf Rider Foundation; The Ocean Friendly Restaurant Program.

Let’s start with some “fun facts” about plastic pollution:

Researchers estimate there are now over 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic in the ocean with the number continuing to grow every day.

  • An estimated 100 billion plastic bags are used ANNUALLY in the United States.
  • 49.4 billion plastic water bottles were sold in one year’s time with only 31.1% recycled, leaving roughly 34 billion plastic bottles that were littered or went into a landfill in 2015.
  • Restaurants use an average of 5,800 gallons of water per day
  • Plastic does not biodegrade so virtually every piece of plastic ever created still exists in some form today!     

Those numbers can be a little terrifying, and the Surf Rider Foundation is determined to help.

For those of you who don’t know, The Surf Rider Foundation is an organization founded on the belief and commitment to protecting the world’s ocean, waves, and beaches through a powerful activist network. Our own Coastal Bend chapter, founded in 2004, is no different.

One way they do this it through the Ocean Friendly Restaurant Program. This program is designed to stop the program of plastic pollution at the source. “One restaurant, one customer at a time” is the easiest way to drive change, increase awareness and ultimately create a lasting impact, according to the Surf Rider website.

Participating restaurants must follow five criteria in order to be in the program:

  • no expanded Styrofoam use
  • follow proper recycling practices
  • only use reusable tableware for onsite dining and provide disposable utensils for takeout dining only upon request
  • no plastic bags offered for pick-up orders
  • only provide straws upon request

They must also follow a minimum of two of these conditions

  • no beverages sold in plastic bottles,
  • offer a discount for those with a reusable mug, cup, bag, etc.,
  • vegetarian/vegan options offered on a regular basis,
  • implement water conservation efforts (like low-flow faucets & toilets)
  • Have energy-saving efforts in place
  • All seafood must be a “Best Choice” or “Good Alternative” as defined by Seafood Watch or certified sustainable.

In 2018, Corpus Christi boasted ten restaurants that met the standards to be an Ocean Friendly Restaurant, with five being in the greater downtown area. Water Street Sushi Room, Green Light Coffee, Texas State Aquarium’s Pepsi Shoreline Grill, Shoreline Sandwich Co., and the Solomon Ortiz International Center were all active participants in this program.

Richard Lomax, Vice President of Water Street Seafood company, said it was a “natural first step” to join the program. In his own words, Lomax explained that Sushi Room is exactly what we all believe it is, “Americanized sushi rolled by a bunch of surfers and fisherman from the gulf coast”. The ocean and our proximity to it is tied into everything about the restaurant, including its eco-friendly nature. Richard hopes to eventually expand the program into other Water Street establishments because we, in the coastal bend, see the pollution every day and have a responsibility to do something about it.

According to the Foundation website, the number of plastic pieces in the oceans continues to grow every day. While initiatives in cities all over the United States are being put in place to ban single-use waste (such as plastic straws), it is most important to citizens of cities like Corpus Christi because we see the direct effect of such pollution every single day.

One of our newest downtown business is Lucy’s Snack Bar. Co-owner of the establishment is Jessica Gignac, who also owns and operates Eleanor’s Coffee Bar + Market. When asked why she chose to include Eleanor’s, and hopefully Lucy’s, in the program, Gignac said “It was a no brainer. Our entire ethos for all of our locations is to be responsible, both to what we put in our bodies with high-quality ingredients but also as a business.” She went on to state that “recycling when possible, using as little waste as possible and always reusing when [they] can” is an important part of their business identity.

With all these wonderful downtown businesses doing their part to reduce water and plastic pollution, Christie Irps of the Coastal Bend chapter of the Surf Rider Foundation hopes it will inspire more establishments to do their part. They have restaurants “waiting in the wings” to join who aren’t quite ready yet but will hopefully be soon.

This pollution impacts everyone, but especially the Coastal Bend. We all enjoy the wonderful views from the seawall and Marina and I don’t want to imagine what would happen to our shining downtown without places like Peace of Mind, Omni Hotels, Sushi Room and others doing their part.

Plastic and water pollution are impacting all of our marine ecosystems, wildlife such as seabirds (hey, pretty pelicans), dolphins, fish and turtles and even displacing plankton on the base of the marine food chain. In honor of Earth Day and our beautiful downtown, let’s all do our part to keep Corpus Christi the Sparkling City by the Sea!

For more information about the Ocean Friendly Restaurant program, visit the Coast Band Surf Rider Foundation website here.