If you live in or enjoy the beach cities in the Los Angeles area, making those beautiful ocean waters clean and safe is likely a priority. The Bay Foundation’s Clean Bay Restaurant Certification Program aims to keep it that way.
The program recognizes restaurants in cities including Malibu, Santa Monica, Culver City, Inglewood, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach, Torrance, Rancho Palos Verdes, Palos Verdes Estates, and Rolling Hills Estates for integrating sustainability and techniques to support ocean health in their operation. The goal? To improve water quality by reducing stormwater runoff pollution generated by restaurants. Approximately 415 restaurants are currently certified in 11 participating cities, from the elegant The Strand House in Manhattan Beach to the casual Blaze Pizza in Culver City to the delicious and friendly Fast Taco in Santa Monica.
Certifying restaurants is important, because an average restaurant uses 300,000 gallons of water every year, and throws out 150,000 pounds of garbage. With some 30,000 eateries in the Santa Monica Bay area, figures like these pack a lot of polluting impact. This pollution affects people, marine life, and even the chemistry of the ocean itself, creating a serious problem for Santa Monica Bay. Every year, 30 billion gallons of untreated runoff flow into the bay — which means it’s crucial for restaurants in the Santa Monica Bay Watershed to practice pollution prevention.
The Clean Bay Restaurant program is taking a step to greatly lessen that impact, by collaborating with local cities and through public outreach. The program works to inspect and certify restaurants that voluntarily implement initiatives to protect the environment. Conducting rigorous inspections, the program assists restaurants in properly managing waste such as oils, grease, and food scraps, which can end up in the storm drain system. And, to assist the general public, Clean Bay offers an interactive map and links to the restaurants that go above and beyond permit requirements for stormwater management and support their initiatives.
According to Grace Lee, The Bay Foundation’s director of outreach programs, “The Clean Bay Certified program’s goal is to help cities and restaurants properly manage these wastes, which directly improves the health of Santa Monica Bay.”
Clean Bay Certified restaurants must achieve 100% compliance with initiatives, which include a full recycling program, eliminating the use of toxic cleaning products outdoors, and establishing water conservation measures. Additionally, eliminating the use of polystyrene take-out containers and using dry-sweeping versus mopping with water are key elements of the certification compliance. Also required is the fulfilment of two out of twelve optional certification areas, such as instituting local food purchasing, offering bike racks for employees, participating in a sustainable seafood program, or composting.
Participating restaurants in the Inglewood area, for example, are connected with compost hubs, urban farms, and community gardens, with The Bay Foundation collecting wasted food for compost. Lee says the composting pilot program “adds another dimension to the Clean Bay Certification program…restaurants can affect healthier air quality and food access in their community by minimizing food waste to landfills.”
With more than 50% of Santa Monica Bay Watershed cities on board, The Bay Foundation is hoping those not involved in the Clean Bay Certification program will join.
After all, residents can use the information in the program to support restaurants taking steps to help the environment, and in so doing help prevent millions of pounds of trash from winding up in the bay. In short, your dining dollars can work to heal the bay.
To find Clean Bay Restaurants in your community, simply go to http://www.santamonicabay.org/explore/our-communities/clean-bay-restaurants/
This article is a part of the April / May 2017 issue of Whole Life Times.