4 Ways to continue celebrating Earth Day and the local businesses making a change

Beach cleanup at The Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island

While Earth Day may have come and gone, there’s no reason to let our awareness stop there. Let’s continue making change and taking care of our beautiful planet. Here are four ways you can continue celebrating Earth Day.

1. Prepare yourself before going shopping or going out to eat.

While we can’t change the materials that some businesses choose to use, we can change what we bring to the table… literally! Here are a few ideas for small changes you can make.

  • Bring your own Tupperware to dinner instead of using the restaurant’s disposable containers for leftovers.
  • Bring reusable shopping totes with you when going shopping at grocery stores or retail stores.
  • Keep a “zero waste” pack in your car loaded with a reusable fork, straw, napkin, coffee mug, and whatever else you like to have when eating out.
  • Stop using plastic produce bags. Put the produce in your cart and wash it when you get home.

2. Support businesses that are already making earth friendly change.

As the earth friendly movement continues to spread, many local businesses are already switching to products that are biodegradable or compostable. For instance, Harbor Docks recently made the switch to compostable to-go boxes, stopped offering straws unless you ask, and the straws they do offer are made of corn! I thought this was awesome and expressed how much this meant to me last time I ate there. Here are a few other recommendations I’ve received lately on local businesses that are making the switch!

  • Sunset Bowls in Fort Walton Beach offers compostable bowls and wooden spoons, but they also promote bringing your own bowl! I usually bring my own Pyrex container and spoon.
  • The Slippery Mermaid in Navarre has compostable plates/ramekins made from recycled palm leaves, their cups are made of corn, and they use non Styrofoam to go boxes!
  • Hot Heads in Fort Walton Beach moved to paper containers for their tacos.
  • First Watch in Destin does not use Styrofoam containers or plastic drinking cups.

3. Ask local businesses to consider switching some of their materials to better options.

There’s nothing wrong with expressing your desires as a consumer. There are businesses locally that I have enjoyed eating at in the past, but the only option was to get the food in disposable containers.

I reached out or left reviews asking them to consider better options and in many cases, they did make the switch OR they made it an option to bring your own food/beverage container. Don’t be afraid to bring these issues up to local businesses.

Just be kind!

4. Pick up trash when you see it.

As a lot of us have experienced, ‘tourist trash’ is a real thing and is very unfortunate. While we can’t change what they do, we can help pick up trash when we see it and avoid it getting into The Gulf. We can also make it a point to take the few extra steps to the garbage can instead of leaving our trash on the beach.

Consider getting involved with beach cleanup days or an organization like Coastal Community Cleanup. And if you’re out and about and see a piece of trash, pick it up, throw it away, and keep on moving.

Hopefully these four earth friendly tips will stick with you. You don’t have to be perfect, but every small change we make helps! We only get one Earth, so let’s take care of it!

What are a few local businesses you know of that are providing more eco-friendly options?