February 26, 2020

UPPER KEYS — A survey sponsored by the village of Islamorada and support groups asks: How much do customers depend on disposable plastics?

More to the point, how much would they be willing to change restaurant takeout habits in the name of environmental protection?

“We want to help local businesses understand the harm caused when single-use plastics, straws and polystyrene [or] Styrofoam end up in the environment, and especially when they end up in the ocean,” said Mary Swaney, village public information officer. “It basically focuses on the Upper Keys, but anybody can fill out the survey.”

The brief six-question online poll invites Florida Keys residents and visitors “to share your opinions about earth-friendly restaurant containers and products.”

Results then will be reviewed at the Ocean Friendly Business Information Session from 1 to 4 p.m. March 24 at Founders Park, mile marker 87, bayside.

“We’ll share your opinions with local places to eat and drink, to help them make the decision whether to find alternatives to single-use disposables like plastic bags, polystyrene to-go containers and straws,” Swaney said.

While largely aimed at owners and managers of restaurants, any business representatives can attend the open event that features environmentally friendly products and “stories of success” from restaurants that moved away from plastics and other non-degradable items.

The online survey — https://conta.cc/3bRT9mC — asks customers:

• To pick one of five answers, ranging from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree,” to the statement: “I would love if my favorite restaurants would switch from plastic bags, plastic straws, plastic cutlery, and polystyrene [or] Styrofoam cups and food containers to earth-friendly products.”

• Rank the plastic-based food implements “you believe are the most important items to remove from use.” The choices include plastics like bags, straws, cups, utensils and carryout containers.

• “How much extra would you be willing to pay for the earth-friendly options?” Choices range from “zero” and “very little” to “more than $2,” and

• “Are you willing to take your own containers to restaurants to carry out your leftovers?”

Surveys should be submitted by March 17.

Joining with Islamorada in the project are groups including Reef Relief, the Florida Keys Environmental Coalition, the Key Largo Chamber of Commerce, the Islamorada Chamber of Commerce and Ocean Friendly Restaurants, a campaign of the Surfrider Foundation-Florida Keys chapter.

Islamorada in 2018 proposed to restrict restaurant use of plastic straws, largely as a symbolic step. After hearing many objections, the village instead passed a resolution supporting voluntary reductions of disposable plastics.