Seaside communities whose recreational activities and tourism economy are vested in the attractiveness of our coast are increasingly concerned about the negative impacts of plastic pollution.
Bigger than aesthetics and sea life being entangled or accidentally eating plastic, new research shows how plastic is part of OUR food chain. It breaks up into micro particles that are finding their way into our food, specifically fish, and into municipal drinking water.
July was Plastic Free month. It raised awareness about the roles you and I can play in de-plastic-ing our world. Far South Peninsula beach clean-ups reveal that much of the plastic litter is comprised of Single Use Plastic (SUP) items including plastic bags, straws, polystyrene takeaway containers, plastic cutlery, sweet wrappers, and PET bottles, etc. Many single use items are unnecessary or can be replaced with non-plastic alternatives. Your choices make a difference. Straws Suck – don’t use them! Refuse after meal sweets in plastic. Bring your own re-usable containers and cutlery for takeaways and coffee or pay the little extra for compostable containers so that Nature does not pay the price. Support plastic free businesses.
Although food outlets are not the only source of SUP litter, volunteers from Waste Reduction Far South decided to survey them for the use of SUP items and alternatives that are offered. Face-to-face surveys were conducted with 113 food and beverage restaurants and outlets from Muizenberg to Cape Point using the ZoHo online survey app.
The good news is that most outlets are aware of the environmental issues around plastic pollution. Many would like to use alternatives, but the uptake is slow. Either management don’t know where to source alternatives or find they are not consistently available. As most alternatives are more expensive than plastic, cost was identified as a concern. Customer demand also plays a role, so if we don’t ask for straws, bags, coffee lids etc outlets will be less pressured to supply them.
Waste Reduction Far South has emailed the results of the survey to the outlets we surveyed with an appeal that they stop providing SUPs. We included a list of locally available alternatives. The survey results, without naming specific businesses, will be forwarded to agencies such as the WWF, Two Oceans Aquarium and WC Dept of Environment as part of a follow up call to action for increased public awareness and bans on certain SUP items.
Some of the food and beverage outlets that have eliminated SUPs or are doing especially well in replacing them are:
- Muizenberg: Empire Café, Rolling Wood, Joon, Hang Ten Café
- Kalk Bay: Salt, Bob’s Bagels, Kitchen Bar
- Scarborough: Camel Rock, Whole Earth Cafe, The Hub Cafe, Foragers
- Fish Hoek: Bhandaris, C’est la vie, Blue Door Coffee
- Eagle Park: Southern Grind
- Kommetjie: Imhoff Free Range Farm Shop
- Noordhoek: Monkey Valley, Café Roux