Surfrider Pacific Rim is pushing for an ocean friendly, plastic-free, peninsula and is cheering the local businesses that are helping them champion the cause.
Surfrider launched an Ocean Friendly Business Campaign in 2018 and awarded certificates to 15 businesses in Tofino and Ucluelet that embraced environmentally friendly practices and worked with Surfrider to come up with creative solutions to eliminate plastics and waste. During last month’s Earth Day festivities on April 22, Surfrider announced the addition of 15 more businesses to the ocean friendly list, which can be found on the foundation’s website: pacificrim.surfrider.org.
“The Ocean Friendly Business Campaign works to register 15 new businesses in Tofino and Ucluelet each year as Ocean Friendly, by helping them transform their current operations to eliminate single-use plastics, implement progressive recycling practices, and increase sustainable initiatives in businesses operations,” Surfrider chapter manager Lilly Woodbury told the Westerly News. “Through this campaign, resources, innovative ideas, and practices are gained from each business and shared with all participants, as well as the entire business community in the Pacific Rim.”
Woodbury added that, armed with a System Change Grant from the Vancouver Foundation, the local Surfrider chapter is working on achieving an Ocean Friendly Corridor “free from all single-use plastic takeaway packaging” between Tofino and Ucluelet by 2022.
“This project is addressing plastic pollution on the Pacific Rim by challenging the roots of this issue by eliminating single-use plastics, implementing circular economic practices and working with youth, businesses, and local governments to enact positive change for our coastline,” she said. “By scaling our response from eliminating a few plastic items to all single-use plastics, we are working to change the behaviour of our region by assisting in the implementation of plastic bans, working with businesses to help them eliminate plastics, empowering youth to continue leading this system change, and creating a pathway for this system to be replicated throughout the province.”
She said the Ocean Friendly Business Campaign program has seen “fantastic” buy-in from West Coast entrepreneurs who have hit the ground running to help the ocean they love thrive.
“Overall, the business community here is very ocean friendly and places incredible value on the environment. There are environmentally friendly products and practices that a majority of businesses have in place which costs them more than having unfriendly products and practices, but they understand the worth of the natural world, and how integral it is to their business,” she said.
“We have long left the era where operating as cheaply as possible and causing irrevocable harm to the environment is acceptable. With this all in mind, there is no finish line to being Ocean Friendly; it is a constant evolution. Businesses who are registered do not end their efforts there; we encourage them to continue to evolve and adopt more Ocean Friendly practices as time continues.”
She added the campaign is vital to the West Coast because the health of the region’s economy depends on healthy and thriving ocean environments.
“The ocean and coast provide ecosystem services every day to the people who live here and those who visit, and it’s our responsibility to reciprocate this incomprehensible level of care. This region’s cuisine, culture, activities, livelihoods, you name it, all depend on healthy ecosystems,” she said.
“Furthermore, there has never been a more important time to shift our actions and operations from harming to restoring the earth and, in the last year, this has become more evident than any other time in human history. So, it’s important for the West Coast, and it’s important for every other region in the world. We would like to see the West Coast strengthen as a leader in environmentalism, and use the coast’s resources to lift up other communities in their efforts.”
She added that by promoting ocean friendly practices, West Coast businesses could become a key source of inspiration to outside communities.
“It’s important for the local business community to participate in initiatives like this because they interact with an astounding amount of tourists every year, from all over the world. There is a massive opportunity for businesses to impart positive behaviours on to all visitors,” she said.
She added that Surfrider will continue pushing towards its goal of an ‘Ocean Friendly Corridor’ and is excited to celebrate an official ban on plastic bags and straws in both Tofino and Ucluelet this summer.
“We will continue to progress and achieve even more greatness on behalf of the place we get to call home,” she said.