All of our actions impact the ocean and the marine life it holds.
Learn about ways that you can help protect and look after ‘Our Blue Planet.
With the changing of the seasons, many people take to their closets and shelves to start on a (literal) clean slate. But did you know that switching to eco-friendly products is not only better for you and your family but for the ocean? Even if you live nowhere near the “Big Blue,” your everyday actions impact our oceans! Here are five easy ways YOU can help the ocean today.
Sustainable beauty and fashion
Who doesn’t love a good beauty product that not only makes you look and feel great but is also good for the environment? Items that contain microbeads (tiny bits of plastic added to products you use to scrub and exfoliate, like body wash and toothpaste) should be the first go leave your shelves!
The millions of tiny plastic beads can wind up in our rivers, streams and other waterways, which eventually carries them out to the ocean. There, fish and other sea life mistake them for food and eat them… and all of that plastic can end up on your dinner plate. Yuck!
Many companies around the world are undergoing a voluntarily phase-out of microbeads, and in the US, President Obama signed a law in 2015 that prohibits the manufacture of rinse-off cosmetic products that have microbeads. Just because we are ditching microbeads doesn’t mean you can’t have a good exfoliating cleansers, however. Instead, find one made from organic, coarse materials (think sea salt, sugar or ground walnut shells) or make your own!
You can also take it a step further and avoid cosmetics (such as anything containing shark squaelene) and jewellery (such as pieces made of sea turtle shell or coral) that contain animal products. Even our choice in fashion impacts the ocean. In fact, every time we run our laundry, tiny plastic particles are released by the synthetic fabrics our clothes are made out of! The majority of it goes into the sewers but some does make its way into our rivers and oceans. Studies have found that acrylic is the worst offender. Consider putting some eco-friendly fashion lines into your wardrobe today!
Help clean the beach
You love the beach anyway, right? Volunteer to attend clean-up events around the world with organizations like BeachPatrol, the International Coastal Cleanup (which happens each September), Clean Up Australia Day, or just pick up trash every time you go to the beach for five minutes! The above are a quick and simple way to get involved.
And if you don't live near a beach, don't neglect your local rivers, lakes and waterways and give them the same love! A few hours makes a huge difference.
Reuse, Reduce, Recycle
Did you ever hear the mantra about the three R’s when you were a child? Reuse, reduce, and recycle! Well that mantra should definitely be added back into your lifestyle if it hasn’t been there all along. An easy way to help the ocean is to not buy one-use products, like disposable plastic water bottles and straws, if you can avoid it. These non-recyclable products wind up our oceans and stay there for a long time. Nearly every piece of plastic ever made still exists! That’s because plastic was made to not break down easily. The amount of plastic we have floating in the ocean is mind-boggling; there’s an interactive world map you can visit to explore how bad our trash problem is!
In the USA, Americans throw away around 10.5 million tons of plastic per year, and recycle less than two per cent of it! Australia has 20,700 tons of plastic bags alone thrown into landfill annually. That number doesn’t even include other types of plastic, such as bottles, straws, packaging! So what can be done? Buy in bulk, pack your snacks in reusable bags (or a trendy bento box) and pour your coffee into an aluminium travel thermos you can use again, and again, and again…
This last step may seem obvious, but many people don’t know that choosing eco-friendly fish and eating local as much as possible are two easy ways to help keep our oceans healthy! If you eat seafood, check to see if your fish has been caught/harvested in a sustainable way. What is a “sustainable” fish? A species that has a healthy population, and whose catch minimizes bycatch (the capture of non-target animals) and impacts on the environment.
You can help turn the tide by asking your local market, grocery store, and restaurants to offer sustainable seafood and to buy from sustainable fisheries. One way to always know whether your fish is “eco-friendly” or not is to download a sustainable seafood guide or app, like the one offered by the Monterey Bay Aquarium! Look for special terms like “line caught,” “diver caught,” “sustainably caught” or “sustainably harvested” on your menus.
And there you have it! Individual people like you and I can make a difference in our ocean’s health by following the above steps. And while there are larger threats that face the ocean (such as climate change, overfishing, etc) there are organizations across the world wanting to help our watery planet out! Here are some that you can donate to or volunteer with:
What eco-friendly actions/products do you have? Share your tips!
Are there things you do to protect our oceans (from your home or while visiting the coast, on a boat, or out volunteering)?
Let me know!
Hi! I'm Melissa, an Australian-based Latina science educator, podcaster, and freelance writer. I spend a lot more time on Instagram and Twitter, but blogging is my first love. Thanks for stopping by — I hope you stay a while.
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