By Tracey Leong

OCEAN CITY, Md. (WJZ) — Ocean City is asking visitors to stop using plastic straws this summer in an effort to protect beaches and cut down on pollution.

Ocean City businesses are joining the pledge to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, and one way you may notice a difference is when you order a drink.

“I’m behind it 110 percent. It’s keeping the birds safer, the streets safer,” visitor Jackie Rosario said.

The Surfrider Foundation is leading the “Strawless Summer” campaign to cut down on the plastic pollution in the ocean and on beaches, which can cause serious harm to wildlife.

“There were two seabirds and a pelican that I happen to walk upon and I looked down and they had already died and were decomposing and inside their bellies there were pieces of plastic,” Surfrider Foundation volunteer Liz Lee said.

Cities across America have already joined the movement, now Ocean City is doing its part to protect the environment.

“Go online and make a pledge, to pledge not to use plastic straws,” Lee said.

The foundation is working with restaurants to promote the initiative.

“If we get rid of straws and they are upon request only, it also saves you money. I mean, food paper and labor in the restaurant business is 50 percent of their cost, so this saves them money and helps the environment,” Ocean City Councilman Tony Deluca said.

It’s a movement restaurants such as Dry 85 OC and Red Red Wine Bar fully support.

“Kind of allows us to be ambassadors for the program, so we take a glass to the table, and if it doesn’t have a straw in it, and someone asks for one, it gives us the opportunity to explain why we are not using straws and why it’s important to forgo the straw this time,” Red Red Wine Bar owner Lisa Bolter said.

It’s a sustainable practice that will preserve the iconic coastal town.

“Straws really are not necessary because I’m going to drink my kicking mule with or without the straw,” Rosario said.

It’s a campaign worth raising a (strawless) glass to.

Researchers say that if we continue at the pollution rate that we are going, we may have more pieces of plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050.

Click here to sign the pledge for a strawless summer in Ocean City.

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Comments (2)
  1. Sandy Porter says:

    Congratulations Ocean City and Maryland, you are at the leading edge, Ambassadors to the future. You’re in very good company as well – Queen Elizabeth of England shared a viewing of the last episode of Blue Planet II with Sir David Attenborough, which Attenborough helped produce, after which the Queen immediately banned the use of disposable plastics from all the Royal residences. The episode was on our oceans and what we doing to them, especially by the rapidly increasing, and enormous, amounts of petroleum plastics and disposable, single-use plastics in particular. Almost all of the plastics we are familiar with are derived from fossil fuels, with “cheap” natural gas (produced by the environmentally-destructive method of FRACKING) now abundant and rapidly becoming the fossil fuel of choice for an immense push by the fossil fuel industry to produce evermore plastic. It’s not ALL plastics we’re talking about here, and plastics serve purposes that currently there are no alternatives for (think of all the medical uses, for example); it is single-use or short-term use disposable items, such as cups, lids for the cups, flatware, grocery and shopping bags, huge amounts of (often unnecessary) packaging, and, straws. If you have ever seen the video (https://www.washingtonpost.com/video/national/researchers-remove-straw-from-sea-turtles-nose/2017/06/13/8d4fdcae-5077-11e7-b74e-0d2785d3083d_video.html?utm_term=.0976b04b7fba) of an embedded plastic straw being removed from the nose of a sea turtle (video is graphic), or sea birds or marine animals entangled in plastic or having died from ingesting enormous amounts of plastic bags or other plastics, then you know that the cause of reducing or eliminating single-use, disposable plastics from our daily lives is essential and urgent. I hope your residents and visitors will happily oblige and learn from these teachable moments. My thoughts would be also to display, or circulate, pictures showing why you are asking for this pledge – turtles, sea birds, marine mammals, beaches in places where they are little with primarily disposable plastics, the five enormous gyres – enormous amounts of plastics slowing eddying, gathering yet more plastics junk. One last thing, when the conversation is getting through – really changing people’s perspectives and understanding of our Planet, there are now many items made that are reusable (for instance, metal straws can come in various lengths, diameters, and beautiful colors) or substitutes made of plant-based, compostable and sometimes edible substitutes. You are the future, thank you.

  2. While this is a nice step, Worcester County does not recycle. Its entire economy relies on the sustainability of the environment and health of the Ocean. Residents who have attempted to recycle using the county facilities have had their recycling bins dumped in the landfills and are told that the current facilities do not have capacity. In addition, no restaurants or bars in Ocean City recycle. We are still 1000 steps behind most other cities and are continuing to destroy the environment.

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