Rethinking Plastic Helps Local Restaurants Become BADFive Free

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"Recycling is not enough." That's Rethinking Plastic's belief and company mantra. Since their start in 2017, the Sarasota-based organization has been connecting with individuals in Sarasota County and throughout the USresearching, learning and helping to educate those looking for ways they can become more sustainable in their daily lives. In particular, Rethinking Plastic's main focus remains in the area of food, including finding alternatives for single-plastic products, eliminating extra packaging and avoiding unnecessary waste. They strive to help business owners and restaurants do the same by becoming BADFive Free (to-go containers, straws, bottles, bags and utensils). The BADFive Free program celebrates restaurants that refuse single-use plastic waste in order to protect our coasts, oceans and marine life. When a restaurant obtains "BFF" recognition, they provide their patrons with sustainable and eco-friendly options that help mitigate that individual's waste footprint and tackle the world's plastic problem by making at least a dent on the community scale. "We believe that by recruiting local restaurants into our BFF program, we can create an eco-friendly culture while growing the area’s economy." 

Most recently, the organization hosted a free screening for 10 days for viewers to learn ‘The Story of Plastic.’ Those who wished to learn more about the destructive lifespan of plastics across three continents were able to stream and watch the featured film at their own convenience. ‘The Story of Plastic’ documentary not only sheds light on the global movement but calls to action that the time is now for change. On July 28 (World Nature Conservation Day), the ongoing screening culminated with a Zoon panel discussion and Q&A session with local leaders already waging the war against single-use plastics. 

The green panel of trailblazers included restaurateur, environmentalists and owner of Leaf & Lentil, Sheila Siegel. The 100% vegan, family-owned, fast-casual restaurant in Sarasota uses only plant-based paper to-go packaging and offers cooler drinks that are in glass or aluminum containers. "Finding alternatives to plastic has been harder than I ever expected but worth the effort. We’ve especially struggled with product availability a bit during this pandemic," says Siegel, "but watching the movie and being on the panel has committed us to trying that much harder."

Leaf & Lentil signed on early to the BadFive Free program and has since completed all five stars with Rethinking Plastic. Sarasota restaurants Indigenous and Blu Kouzina are among the others on board and setting an example as completely rid of all five guilty culprits. Sarasota Sailing Squadron is close to gaining its 5th star for its social events, while MADE and 1812 Osprey are rethinking plastic by using alternatives for three of the BadFive. 

Any local establishment that wishes to get onboard with the BADFive Free program can contact Rethink Plastic to have one of its members come to visit and help get the ball rolling on a less plastic-filled environment. 

Photo courtesy of Rethinking Plastic. Learn more here.

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