The Charleston Surfrider Foundation
An Interview with Marlo Shedlock, chair
How did your organization get started?
The Surfrider Foundation is a grassroots, nonprofit environmental organization that works to protect
and preserve the world's oceans, waves and beaches. The Charleston Chapter is one of 84 across the
country dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world's waterways through a powerful
activist network. We focus on beach access, coastal preservation, ocean protection and plastic
Jana Davis manages our Ocean Friendly Restaurant program, which launched in Charleston in August of 2016, and was the first of its kind in the Southeast. It had previously only been in operation in Hawaii and California. The program aims to work at the core of plastic pollution by recognizing restaurants that use environmentally friendly packaging. To be part of the program, restaurants must not use plastic bags or EPS foam ware. They must recycle, and if a customer is dining in, they must be provided real silverware. If a patron is getting a to-go order, the restaurants must ask if cutlery is needed. Restaurants must choose three of another six optional criteria.
How do you serve the Lowcountry?
Surfrider Charleston is dedicated to protecting our Lowcountry beaches and marshes through a wide network of activists. We work to support policies that protect our coast, raise awareness for issues facing our shores and work to keep the Lowcountry waterways and beaches beautiful and free of trash.
What volunteer opportunities do you have for the public?
We are looking for a beach/marsh coordinator, as well as an outreach coordinator. We are also in need of volunteers to help us staff our table at local events, promote our Ocean Friendly Restaurant and Strawless summer programs, as well as help organize outreach and beach clean-ups. If you have a green thumb, we are in need of a volunteer to oversee our Ocean Friendly Gardens Program (OFG). OFG reaches out to citizens to educate them on what plants are good for our Lowcountry wildlife, beach and marsh areas.
What have been some of the greatest successes of your organization?
Surfrider Charleston was instrumental in passing plastic bag bans on the Isle of Palms and on Folly Beach. We have signed on over 30 Ocean Friendly Restaurants (OFR). OFR restaurants are required to not use polystyrene foam cups and containers or plastic to-go bags, and to follow other environmentally friendly guidelines. We have been successful with our Strawless Summer Campaign, with many local restaurants permanently switching over from plastic straws to paper or reusable metal.
We have installed over 12 cigarette butt receptacles on Folly to collect butts, which are made up of 90 percent plastic and are not biodegradable. We continue to have successful beach, marsh and neighborhood trash clean-ups and have joined the Adopt-a-Highway Program, overseeing trash clean-ups from Sullivan's Island to Mount Pleasant.