This holiday season, with help from patrons at participating local restaurants, the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays oyster shell recycling program can achieve the goal of 4,000 bushels collected in 2017. When diners order oysters or clams from a participating restaurant, those shells will be reused in the center's Don't Chuck Your Shucks oyster shell recycling program.
In a partnership between the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays and local restaurants, this program collects discarded oyster shells for use in oyster restoration projects in the inland bays.
"Don't Chuck Your Shucks officially began back in 2014 but has really taken off in the last year," said Bob Collins, program coordinator. "We have some fantastic local restaurants on board, and the program has become wildly popular. Local restaurants are enthusiastically participating because they care about the health of the Inland Bays just as much as we do."
When diners order oysters from one of the participating restaurants, the spent shells (shucks) from their plates will be separated from the waste stream and put into special bins. Next, the shells will be taken to a collection area where they will sit in the sun and cure for a minimum of six months before they are recycled for local habitat restoration projects such as Living Shorelines and Oyster Gardening.
Closing out its 2017 season on a high note, the program is just short of its 4,000-bushel goal. Oyster-loving diners can help by ordering a dozen (or more), and sharing the holiday spirit with friends – and the Inland Bays. For a list of participating restaurants, go to inlandbays.org/shucks. Diners should be sure to ask their server if their restaurant participates in the Don't Chuck Your Shucks shell recycling program.
"All of our restaurant partners are participating because they know that clean Inland Bays contribute to the economic vibrancy of the area," said Collins. "The cleaner the waters, the better business is. But most of these partners also value the bays for quality-of-life reasons. And they participate in DCYS for that reason as well."
The Delaware Center for the Inland Bays is a nonprofit organization established in 1994, and is one of 28 National Estuary Programs. With its many partners, the CIB works to preserve, protect and restore Delaware's Inland Bays, the water that flows into them and the watershed around them.
For more information, go to www.inlandbays.org.