Last October, the Island’s beach-cleaning and litter-fighting group Fight Dirty Tybee launched a program to recognize the sustainability efforts of Tybee’s restaurants. So what is a Certified Turtle-Friendly Restaurant? Well, according to Fight Dirty Tybee, it is any eating establishment that has committed to find alternatives to plastic take-out bags, plastic straws, and expanded polystyrene (aka, styrofoam). Why these items? They’re among the most commonly found litter removed from the beach and marsh during clean ups and are known to cause significant harm to sea turtles if ingested. Of course, these items harm our beloved bottle-nosed dolphins, brown pelicans, endangered shore birds, and eventually us, too.
The program was born out of frustration – Fight Dirty Tybee volunteers remove hundreds of straws, pieces of styrofoam, and plastic bags (and many other things) at their weekly clean ups. Wanting to encourage more responsible choices by consumers and restaurants, a small group of regular volunteers decided to create a Tybee-specific recognition program for restaurants that were already talking steps to reduce their use of single-use plastics, especially for take-out. After looking at several similar programs at other coastal communities, the group decided not to dictate how a restaurant offers more sustainable products but rather to thank them for not adding to the problem of plastic pollution in the ocean.
So far, 9 Tybee restaurants have received the Certified Turtle-Friendly designation, with more expected to join in:
North Beach Bar & Grill
Salt Island Fish & Beer
Sea Wolf Tybee
The Deck Beach Bar & Kitchen
Tybean Art & Coffee
An owner’s choice to offer sustainable products instead of throw-away plastics results in a significant increase in expenses – often 2 or 3 times as much as single-use plastics. The hope is that recognition from this program will result in more customers and help offset those increased costs. You can do your part to help our sea turtles by visiting these establishments and thanking them for their sustainable choices! And if your favorite Tybee restaurant isn’t on the list, ask them to drop the plastic and save some sea turtles!