Old Causeway Among Area’s Paper Straw Pioneers

Apr 18, 2018
Courtesy of: Old Causeway Steak and Oyster House

“Plastic straws are out,” Old Causeway Steak and Oyster House announced April 10.

In an effort to reduce plastic waste, the Manahawkin restaurant has replaced its plastic drinking straws with paper. “We’re meeting the criteria set up by Surfrider Foundation’s Ocean Friendly Restaurants program and reducing our non-biodegradable waste.”

The Surfrider Foundation’s Jersey Shore Chapter hailed the addition of Old Causeway to its growing list of participating Ocean Friendly Restaurants. “They not only serve fresh and delicious seafood year-round, but they are pledging to reduce plastic consumption by removing plastic straws from their restaurant. They currently recycle all oyster shells as well!”

The OFR list includes hundreds of eateries on both coasts, but in New Jersey only four have made the list so far – in Rumson, Asbury Park, Manasquan and Lavallette.

Old Causeway co-owner Melanie Magaziner said her husband and business partner Eric Magaziner “has been looking for ways to reduce our use of plastics and Styrofoam for years.

“As one of the leaders in the local restaurant industry, we have a commitment to clean waterways, reducing single-use plastic, conservation and setting an example for other businesses,” she said. “Our partnerships include the Jetty B Corp, Alliance for a Living Ocean, the Oyster Recycling Program of Long Beach Township and Dale Parsons, and ‘The Oyster Farmers’ – all of us working to keep LBI beautiful for future generations.”

At the heart of the OFR program is the idea that “plastic pollution is suffocating our ocean and the many animals that call it home.”

“Researchers estimate there are now over 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic in the ocean with the number continuing to grow every day. This pollution is impacting our marine ecosystems, wildlife such as seabirds, dolphins, fish, and turtles, and plastic fragments are even displacing plankton at the base of the food chain.”

Surfrider believes the best way to combat the problem is to stop it at its source. “One restaurant, one customer at a time, increases awareness, drives change in behavior and ultimately creates scalable impact to reduce our plastic (and water!) footprint.”

“So far, we have been able to eliminate single-use plastic bags; we have made the switch to paper straws; we have always recycled to the best of our ability; we recycle all of the oyster shells; and we are working to eliminate Styrofoam,” Magaziner said.

Restaurants can show their commitment to making sustainable choices by meeting the following criteria: not using expanded polystyrene (aka Styrofoam); not offering plastic bags for to-go or take-home items; following proper recycling practices; offering only reusable tableware onsite, and disposable utensils for takeout only upon request.

Participating restaurants also choose a minimum of three additional criteria: provide plastic straws only upon request; sell no beverages in plastic bottles; offer a discount for customers with a reusable cup, mug, bag, etc.; offer vegetarian/ vegan food options on a regular basis; and/or all seafood must be a ‘Best Choice’ or ‘Good Alternative’ as defined by Seafood Watch or certified as sustainable; implement water conservation efforts, such as low-flow faucets and toilets; institute energy efficiency measures such as LED lighting and/or Energy Star appliances.

Restaurants who meet all 10 criteria are recognized as Platinum Level members.

“None of this is easy for a restaurant,” Magaziner added. Some of the inherent challenges they have faced include finding the right product to replace plastic, and some added costs, “plus, there has been some customer pushback, particularly with the paper straws. They do get soft and have a unique feel.”

What people need to understand about the new paper straws is, she continued, “of course it will be ‘different,’ but everyone can get accustomed to them.” Plastic straws were the norm for so long that most people are only familiar with a certain kind of drinking straw experience, she explained. Change is always uncomfortable at first, she noted – but it’s time.

“We can make a difference by stopping the use of plastic straws,” she said. “We need to care more about our watershed than how a straw feels.”

Magaziner has applied to Surfrider for the certification for Old Causeway, and once that is done, the others in the Magaziner-Nugent family of restaurants will follow.

— Victoria Ford

victoria@thesandpaper.net

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