Ocean City Today
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Mother’s Cantina honored for green resort initiatives

By Katie Tabeling | Apr 13, 2017
Photo by: Katie Tabeling Mother's Cantina owners Ryan and Neely James celebrate the award with their children, James, Kaia and Reid.

(April 14, 2017) The eco-friendly business practices of Mother’s Cantina on 28th Street earned the restaurant accolades this past week, as the local chapter of the Surfrider Foundation named it the first “Ocean Friendly Restaurant” in the resort.

Participating in the Maryland Coastal Bays Program’s eighth annual Earth Day beach cleanup, the foundation also honored cantina owners Ryan and Neely James for their green practices.

The “Ocean Friendly Restaurant” designation was created earlier this year.

“We’ve had a program called ‘Rise Above Plastics’ for about 10 years that educates and gets rid of single-use plastic, and other chapters started realizing that the majority of single-use plastic waste comes from restaurants,” John Weber, the foundation’s Mid-Atlantic Regional director, said. “So local chapters made the designation and we decided to expand it.”

The James’ first appeared on Weber’s radar after the couple renewed efforts to remove Styrofoam from the resort. Earlier this year, the couple offered other local eateries the chance to join them in purchasing more environmentally friendly take out containers as a way to bring down the price.

Mother’s itself made the switch to Green Wave products, which are biodegradable and non-toxic, in 2016.

“It’s the right thing to do to get rid of it,” Ryan James said. “Considering the restaurant’s proximity to the ocean, it was a logical decision.”

Weber said that Styrofoam was one of the biggest threats to the ocean and the bay in Ocean City.

“Out in California when they do these cleanups, about 1 in 4 pieces of trash picked up is some kind of Styrofoam,” he said.

James, who cleans the beach on 28th Street through Ocean City Surf Club’s Adopt Your Beach program, said that often the amount of Styrofoam found on the sand fills bags.

“In this town, we have the bay and ocean,” James said. “We have two things to keep charge of.”

To become an ocean-friendly designated restaurant, the business has to meet four core objectives: eliminate Styrofoam, recycle, provide reusable utensils only and stop using plastic take-out bags.

Restaurants also have to meet three other requirements, such as having low-energy LED lighting, low-flow toilets and sinks as well as only offering plastic straws upon request.

Mother’s Cantina easily met the criteria, Weber said, which is no easy feat. Ocean City does not offer curbside recycling pick-up and all trash is transported to Covanta Energy in Pennsylvania to be burned.

“We want to make sure that they are repurposed for something else, rather than just burned,” he said.

Malcom Taylor, a member of the Ocean City Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, pointed out that the criteria for the “Ocean Friendly Restaurant” designation also saves a different kind of green.

“You’ll notice these are things that actually save the restaurant money in the long run,” Taylor said. “They’re also things a lot of places are starting to do.”

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