Introducing the Huntington Beach No-Styrofoam Challenge!


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Let’s first, quickly, pro forma, belabor the obvious for a few paragraphs:  Anyone who’s walked along the beach in this county, especially anyone who’s tried cleaning it up by themselves or on one of those big Beach Clean-Up deals that our Huntington Beach Fora like to put together [next one Feb. 21, 8am, at Bolsa Chica State Beach, new jetty near Seapoint] sees it more than any other kind of litter – styrofoam cups and take-out trays, sometimes in one or four pieces, more often in hundreds of tiny bits that are practically impossible to retrieve.

A creation of Monsanto (who also gave us Agent Orange, saccharine and Round-Up) sytrofoam, which is properly known as expanded polystyrene foam, is a substance that never biodegrades, that instead PHOTODEGRADES (breaks down into tinier and tinier pieces), that inevitably washes from streets and beaches and through storm drains into our oceans, and is tragically mistaken for food by all too much marine life.  (I know, not MENSA material, stoopid fish.) 

I think that without drowning you in too many more boring and sad facts, we can all agree that the less styrofoam that ends up on our beach the better.  And it also stands to reason that (like with plastic bags) the less styrofoam is given out in a beach town (which relies on the pristine beauty of its beach for so much of its livelihood) the less will end up scattered about and choking our seas.

But Huntington Beach made history last week as the first beach town to REVERSE a ban on plastic bags – as part of a right-populist election wave that swept out the previous environmentalist council majority.  In short, styrofoam or anything else is not going to be BANNED in Surf City any time soon, because FREEDOM.  So, those of us who want to see much less styrofoam on our beaches down here have come up with a Plan B, which so far everyone seems to like:

Here’s the plan:  Each time a Huntington Beach establishment that uses styrofoam voluntarily switches to an environmentally healthy alternative, we will give them an award at the next (televised) Council meeting, and invite them to speak of their establishment, its menu and other amenities.  And we will continue to advertise them on the blogs and forums at our disposal.

With the ultimate goal of having no styrofoam in Surf City at all – not even styrofoam cups at grocery or convenience stores.  This should take a few years but it’ll be worth it.

First, though… the ones who have ALREADY made the switch, the…

  • Duke’s – where the Pier hits PCH.  They are very proud of having ALWAYS used only recyclable cups and packaging.  Patronize this great and fun place!

  • Sandy’s – also where the Pier hits PCH.  Ditto everything we said about their neighbor Duke’s!

  • Hurricanes at Walnut and Main – very proud of having switched to only recyclable packaging a year ago.  Have a BLAST at Hurricanes!

  • BrewBakers at 7242 Heil Avenue – the first, historic, establishment to switch away from styrofoam as a result of our No Styrofoam Challenge!

  • Mama’s on 39 – a real fun place at Beach and Atlanta, all of whose packaging has always been recyclable and biodegradable.

  • Slapfish at Newland Center – with great food, goes one better, with all their cups and take-out containers made of corn and compostable (provided by Greenware, linked below)

  • Bruxie , 150 5th Street, just a block up from PCH serving shakes, floats, desserts and beverages – with NO STYROFOAM EVER!

  • Avila’s El Ranchito, 318 Main Street.  “Opened in 1999 by Sergio, the Huntington Beach restaurant sports a Baja Surf motif. It is always busy, located on the old Main Street in downtown ‘Surf City’. While growing up, the Avila boys used to hang-out in Huntington Beach after school to surf….”  and ESCHEW STYROFOAM!

  • U.S. Taco Company – 150 5th Street.  Surprisingly, an upscale property of Taco Bell, with great food!  When we went there the manager spoke enthusiastically and passionately about their environmentally friendly packaging.  We say, ¡Ándale… arriba, arriba!

When representatives of some of these businesses show up to the next televised council meeting, and others to each one after that, to receive their coveted No-Styrofoam Challenge certificate, and speak for three minutes of their menus, amenities, and why they don’t use styrofoams, we are hoping that it will be a positive influence on OTHER establishments to follow suit!

Appendix: Some Alternatives to Styrofoam!

(This will be regularly updated as we find more!)

Greenware is one of the biggest and most diverse companies doing this sort of thing.  Their packaging and cups are manufactured from corn and are not only biodegradable but compostable.   Establishments should peruse their wares at:  www.fabri-kal.com/product-solutions/greenware

Solo Cup Company – yes, the folks who make those tall red cups you like to stand around the beer keg with – has added a line of compostable treated paper cups, as you can find here:  www.foodservicecentral.com/doc/solo-adds-compostable

And check out Green Paper Products.  We’ll add more as we find ’em.

Finally, businesspeople.  Will this cost a LITTLE BIT MORE?  Probably a little.  But your customers will not mind an extra dime or quarter if it’s to keep the ocean and beach healthy and clean.  Make the leap!  People will love it.  And we’ll make sure they know.

Huntington Beach No-Styrofoam Challenge Team out.


Invaluable research assistance from Lori Ann Robeson.

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About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.