Let’s make the necessary changes to save fish, our environment

Beyond the Curb


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According to the World Economy Forum report of January 2016, plastic production has increased during the past 50 years from 15 million tons in 1964 to 311 million tons in 2014. It is expected to double again during the next 20 years. The recycling rate for plastics in general is less than 14 percent worldwide.

“Each year, at least 8 million tons of plastics leak into the ocean — which is equivalent to dumping the contents of one garbage truck into the ocean every minute. If no action is taken, this is expected to increase to two per minute by 2030 and four per minute by 2050. […] The best research currently available estimates that there are over 150 million tons of plastics in the ocean today. In a business-as-usual scenario, the ocean is expected to contain 1 ton of plastic for every 3 tons of fish by 2025, and by 2050, more plastics than fish.”

The only real way out of this mess is to reduce the amount of plastic used for things where more sustainable alternatives exist. 

This idea is catching on.

Quite a few businesses are looking for ways to reduce their impact on the environment by optimizing their operation while still offering customers quality products and services. Fortunately for us, we have examples right here in Brevard.

Cocoa Beach residents Moises Correa and Kelly Lieneke opened The Tiny Turtle (thetinyturtle.com), a Caribbean fusion restaurant, in 2013. Cooking fresh food is his passion and drove the couple to start their business, but their concern with plastic waste was a deciding factor for them to, after three years into running a successful establishment, jump into more sustainable practices.

 “It’s not a difficult change,’’ Lieneke said. “You just work costs in and do it.”

 Without having to raise prices or compromise the quality of their food, The Tiny Turtle is phasing out petroleum-based materials and replacing them with plant-based ones. They started with straws, then plastic bags and now they are eliminating polystyrene containers and plastic utensils.

To make the switch viable, staff training has been crucial.

 “Instead of automatically adding straws to drinks, we’ll only give them out to customers who ask for them. And the same goes for our paper bags,” Lieneke said.

 Since adopting that policy, they have seen a drop in the volume of material utilized.

 “That compensates for the higher cost of the sustainable materials, leaving our final cost about the same,” she added. 

Melanie’s Salon (melaniessalon.com) in Viera also chose to make a move toward more sustainable options. The salon offers the Davines brand of products for coloring, styling and general hair care. The products use all natural ingredients and packaging is eco-friendly. It uses a minimum amount of plastic and composite materials and a maximum amount of recyclable materials.

Hair stylist Dawn Elden brought the idea to salon owner Melanie Webb who didn’t hesitate.

“Natural ingredients are good for our customers and eco-friendly packaging is good for the environment,’’ Webb said.

 The salon operates based on that principle, so adding Davines line of products was an easy choice. 

More and more, businesses are making the switch. They understand that sustainability is a daily practice and we all need to pitch in. It will be better for customers, businesses, communities and the environment. 

The City of Satellite Beach understands that. Their Sustainability Board has been tackling from building a community garden to banning balloons at City parks to eliminating the use of polystyrene containers by the City and City events. Satellite Beach is making strides, leading the county in the sustainability department. All those efforts are important and appreciated. Thank you City Manager Courtney Barker for your leadership!

Join the trend and implement changes in your life, too. Bring your own bag to stores; ask stores to reduce the use of plastic; suggest the use of sustainable containers; and when eating out, say “no” to straws. No matter the change, big or small, moving toward sustainability is the answer. We don’t want to have plastic for dinner; we want to keep the fish.