The ocean is where life began, and it’s the only thing that can sustain our lives. It provides us with oxygen, food, water and jobs. But sadly, our oceans are in danger.
Ocean waste; pollution from plastics and other debris has made its way into oceans causing them to be dirty and unhealthy for humans or animals to live in. A study of more than a dozen countries found that people living near marine areas were most likely to report respiratory problems including bronchitis due to pollution exposure.
The United States alone produces about 262 million tons of plastic waste every year. One person generates an average of two pounds of trash per day. The good news is that there’s plenty we can do as individuals to help improve the state of our ocean’s health, without sacrificing our lifestyle.
Let’s take a look at 7 ways you can make small changes which will have a big impact on the future of our planet’s blue heart.
Minimize Your Carbon Emissions
Humans have been burning fossil fuels to create excess heat and warmer oceans. The carbon footprint that we are creating will affect the ocean tremendously, changing how marine species reproduce as well as speeding up sea-level rise which is already happening at a quick pace due to climate change.
To decrease these effects on our beloved planet:
- Turn off lights when you leave your room or unplug electronics like chargers when they’re not in use.
- Adjust your thermostat so it matches what season it is outside, considering many people tend to run their A/C all year round.
- Walk or ride bikes instead of using cars if possible for short distances such as going from point A to point B around town.
- Demand renewable energy options in community buildings.
Choose Sustainable Seafood
Seafood is an important part of the diet for many people, but sustainable fisheries are dwindling. These days three quarters of global fishing fleets are overworked and depleted due to unsustainable practices like bottom trawling or long-lining which can damage ocean floors so much that they’re unable to regenerate themselves.
You can help save what little we have left by carrying your sustainable seafood card everywhere you go or asking restaurants where they buy from before ordering something off the menu.
Use an app like Seafood Watch that tells consumers which products come from unsustainable sources. This can help in contributing no further harm to our aquatic ecosystems while searching through grocery stores’ freezer sections for more eco-conscious choices when it comes to purchasing frozen goods.
Prioritize Biodegradable Plastic Products
Did you know that plastic debris in the ocean can contribute to choking and starvation of marine animals? It often resembles their food, so they don’t realize it is not edible until digested.
Use cloth grocery bags, biodegradable plastics or reusable water bottles instead to prevent unnecessary deaths among these beautiful creatures.
Refuse Items That Exploit Marine Life
Coral reefs and marine populations are hugely important to all of us. They provide a refuge for countless species, their beauty inspires awe in even the most jaded observers, they support our bustling tourism industry, but
The less we purchase items made with tortoiseshell hair accessories and shark products the more likely these ecosystems can survive long into the future.
Make Ocean-Friendly Pet Food Choices
The decision to feed your pet with cat food or seafood can determine the impact on the environment. When looking for a sustainable diet, consider what is in season and locally produced so as not to use up natural resources needlessly.
This will also help reduce carbon emissions which contribute significantly to global warming due to transporting goods from one country across another’s borders.
Practice Ocean-Friendly Travel
Be mindful of the water when you’re engaging in a recreational activity. Don’t throw anything overboard and be aware that marine life is around us at all times, whether we can see it or not.
Don’t forget that if you still feel like heading out for some fun on the high seas this summer, look into an eco-friendly option first so everyone can enjoy their vacation with less guilt.
You can take a trip without harming wildlife or the environment when you book with responsible travel companies that are committed to protecting animals, empowering local communities, and using guides who know local rules.
Once you arrive at your destination, be respectful of marine life like nesting sea turtles on beaches and sensitive reef systems such as coral reefs.
No matter what you do or where you go, water will eventually find its way to the ocean. With so many lakes and rivers becoming polluted and algae blooms forming due to chemicals that can kill marine life, we all need to take a stand for clean water.
Here are some simple ways:
- Take shorter showers
- Collect rainwater in a barrel for watering plants
- Limit laundry days only on full loads of clothing instead of every day
- Wash small items by hand
We have a responsibility to make sure that our planet can continue to provide for future generations. By making small changes to reduce ocean waste, you are doing more than just good for the environment, you’re giving back and ensuring that we all live on this blue heart together. What is one thing from the list of 7 ways which resonates with you? Let us know!
by Bobby J Davidson
We are in business to provide great products for the outdoorsy hikers, campers and their dogs; and to help clean our parks, rivers and oceans for a better planet earth for hikers and their dogs.
Parks are high-traffic areas in most cities. This means that trash is bound to show up in and around your park and playground.
When discussing ways your family can help clean your local park, don’t overlook a literal cleanup! Picking up trash will make a huge difference in the appearance and vibe of your park. A clean area will encourage others to keep the park pristine. When picking up trash and debris, make sure to wear gloves to protect yourself, and put trash in appropriate receptacles or lawn bags. You can also contact your local trash company to schedule a pickup when you are finished.
The storm drain on your street collects the water from your roof, driveway, and sidewalk and funnels it directly in your local lake or river. Nutrients from grass and leaves, pet waste, and fertilizers “enrich” our lakes and streams — feeding algae blooms and harming fish. Chemicals from washing your car in the drive and household chemical spills add up, taking a nasty toll on our favorite swimming areas and fishing spots. Soil can also be picked up by runoff, reducing the clarity of water and hurting fish.
So as you prepare your lawn and garden, here are a few helpful tips to keep our lakes and rivers beautiful and safe for all of us.
- Use mulch and vegetation to keep soil from washing away.
- Sweep or rake grass and leaves away from street curbs.
- Mulch and compost grass clippings and leaves.
- Keep paved surfaces to a minimum.
- Capture water runoff with a rain garden and rain barrels.
- Wash your car on the grass, where the water will get filtered.
- Keep chemicals away from storm drains.
- Collect your pet’s waste.
- Aim your rain-gutter downspouts onto grass.
Beaches Clean (do it for the ocean)
In 2007, the United States Senate and House of Representatives passed the National Clean Beaches Week Resolution to recognize the value of beaches to the American way of life and the important contributions of beaches to the economy, recreation, and natural environment of the United States.
Clean Beaches Week, celebrated annually July 1-7, offers the perfect opportunity to encourage stewardship and volunteerism along our coastlines. But where do you even begin? Follow these tips to get started.
- Identify a clean-up site. Choose a place that needs some TLC, making sure that volunteers can safely access the site. Get permission, if needed, for your clean-up event, perhaps from the local parks agency.
- Choose a site coordinator. (That might be you!) A beach clean-up takes a lot of work and needs an organized person to keep everything on track before, during, and after the event.
- Visit the site in advance. The coordinator will need to know where to set up a volunteer check-in station, where to leave trash and recyclables, and what area(s) volunteers will clean.
- Gather supplies. Depending on your location, you’ll need supplies such as trash bags, a first aid kit, hand sanitizer, wipes, and large coolers of water. You should also provide (or ask volunteers to bring) items such as reusable work/garden gloves, reusable water bottles, sunscreen, and bug spray.
- Plan how to handle the recyclables. Reach out to recyclers in your area (and perhaps your community’s solid waste departments) to make arrangements for accepting any glass, plastic, and aluminum that you collect.
- Line up event partners. Contact local businesses for donations of drinks, food, and supplies. Ask a local solid waste hauler to donate their services for trash removal.
- Plan for handling hazardous waste. Determine how you’ll dispose of any medical and sewage waste you might find. One solution: A wide-mouth container with a tight-fitting lid, such as an empty laundry detergent bottle. Clearly label that it contains hazardous waste.
- Get volunteers to help. Recruit friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors. Create an event on Facebook and ask volunteers to sign up online. This will give you an idea of how many people to expect and will help communicate event details.
- Stay safe. Be prepared for a variety of health emergencies, from minor cuts and scrapes to heat stroke.
- Take photos! Post pics online to share the success of your event and recognize volunteers for their hard work.