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Coasting to a healthier Puget Sound
What do Sweet Rice Thai, Zorba’s and Frasers have in common? Besides the fact that all these Oak Harbor eateries serve good food, they now serve drinks on special coasters along with hundreds of other restaurants and coffee shops from Olympia to Bellingham. These coasters won’t be around for long. There are four different coaster designs and no Oak Harbor restaurant has more than three. So to collect all four, you must visit more than one business. If you put a picture of yourself showing a coaster on your Facebook page, and then “like” Puget Sound Starts Here on Facebook, you may win a prize.
These coasters were specially made for Puget Sound Starts Here month this May, which is a regional effort to raise awareness about storm water pollution. Drains inside our homes and buildings lead to a treatment plant. However, most of our outdoor storm drains lead to creeks, wetlands or directly to Puget Sound without treatment. Everyday actions like washing a car on the street, using yard chemicals and leaving pet poop on the ground contribute to polluted beaches and waterways. When you consider the small amount that each of us contributes and multiply it by millions of people living in the 12 counties around Puget Sound, you begin to understand we have a big problem. Puget Sound may be sparkling and beautiful on the surface but a toxic soup is brewing down below.
According to the Puget Sound Partnership, there have been sharp drops in some fish populations and repeated closures of commercial shellfish beds. Storm water pollution threatens our fishing industry and impacts tourism that provides jobs and fuels our state economy.
These coasters are a way to start a conversation and offer simple tips on how to turn the tide on toxic storm water. Each of the four coaster designs asks a question on one side and gives the answer on the other. They suggest planting trees, using compost and washing your car at a commercial car wash.
Along with Sweet Rice, Zorba’s and Frasers, you can find the coasters at Arties, Flyers, the Oak Bowl, China City, the Island Café, Estabans and Angelo’s Cafe. For a directory of eateries carrying these special coasters, visit pugetsoundstartshere.org.
Puget Sound Starts Here in Oak Harbor with presentations at the library on Friday afternoons. On May 11 at 3 p.m., see “Lost and Puget Sound,” an award-winning film of three Seattle teens that follow the rain and find their voice. After the video, Environmental Educator Maribeth Crandell will report on how Oak Harbor teens are working to clean up Puget Sound. If weather permits, we may stencil storm drains outside.
On May 18 at 4 p.m., hear from Sammye Kempbell about the Volunteer Naturalist Program at Rosario Beach tide pools. Kempbell was named volunteer of the year.
On May 25 at 3 p.m., come see Pigeon Guillemots on Parade with Phyllis Kind. You’ll fall in love with these charming black and white birds with the fire engine red feet that inhabit our shoreline. Find out what one species can tell us about the health of Puget Sound from avian researchers who’ve been participating in a five-year study.
Whether you’re watching birds, walking the dog or just having a bite to eat, remember that Puget Sound starts with what we do each day. Puget Sound Starts here.
Maribeth Crandell is Oak Harbor’s environmental educator.