10 Tips For Becoming Ocean-Friendly
Our oceans cover around 70% of the Earth’s surface, so it is not at all surprising that they have been heavily impacted by the environmental changes of the modern world. In 2014, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences research journal published a study alleging that 88% of the ocean is now polluted. While the damage cannot be completely reversed, there are several lifestyle changes you can make to prevent the problem from deteriorating even further. Here’s our top ten:
Be Kind to Your Beaches
Whether you use your local beaches for swimming, diving, surfing or just relaxing, it is imperative that you take all your belongings with you and dispose of any waste properly when you leave. The majority of items left on the shore will end up in the ocean, either by force of wind or the tide coming in. By managing your own mess, you can help to prevent our oceans becoming increasingly polluted. You can even go one step further and participate in beach clean-ups that take place up and down the country.
Say No to Plastic
An estimated 7.9 million tonnes of plastic, originating from land-based sources, contaminates the Earth’s marine environment every year. It is believed that much of this plastic will never disappear and will continue to entangle and kill tens of thousands of aquatic creatures annually. We must continue to urge big corporations to produce plastic-free alternatives (much like we do here at Eco To Go) and refuse to use single-use plastic, such as straws, cutlery, coffee cups, water bottles, bags, balloons, plastic-wrapped produce and take-out food containers. You can also limit your impact by carrying a reusable water bottle, storing food in non-disposable containers, bringing your own canvas tote or other reusable bag when shopping, and, of course, recycling whenever possible. A whole host of innovative solutions to this plastic problem are being put into effect up and down the country, as you can read about here.
Switch to Organic Fertilisers
Many fertilisers used for agriculture and gardening can pollute our rivers, and eventually end up in the ocean. Along with pesticides, these chemicals can poison marine life. They can also create ‘dead zones’, where oxygen is limited, with aquatic creatures having to either flee the area or die. Switching to organic fertilisers can reduce the number of these chemicals that will end up in our oceans, along with buying organic or pesticide-free produce.
Reduce Your Usage of Greenhouse Gases
In a report by the World Meteorological Organisation, it was revealed that more than 90% of the energy trapped by greenhouse gases ends up in our oceans. This causes increased temperatures in the sea, and low levels of oxygen. Because of this, much aquatic life is endangered. In order to reduce our carbon footprints and protect our sea-life, there are many simple measures you can take. For example, walking, cycling or using public transportation on a regular basis and turning off the lights when you leave a room.
Avoid Products That Exploit the Ocean’s Inhabitants
There are a whole host of commercial products linked to endangered marine species and unsustainable fishing methods that are readily available worldwide. For instance, it has recently become a trend to hunt sharks and process their livers for the purpose of making squalene health capsules. Shark squalene is also often used in cosmetics due to its moisturising qualities. Much jewellery is frequently made from coral in Central America and Southeast Asia, with many countries also still illegally selling products that are made from the shell of the endangered Hawksbill sea turtle. In rejecting the use of these products, their popularity will diminish, and they will stop being made. As a result, you will be saving the lives of countless aquatic creatures.
Make Sustainable Seafood Choices
Unsustainable fishing methods, such as dynamite fishing, electro-fishing, fishing with poisons, and overfishing are becoming huge problems for our oceans. By choosing to eat sustainably, you can help to rectify this situation – if there’s less demand, there’s less need for supply. Choose seafood that you know is healthy for both you and the oceans, ideally from local fishmongers. There are many detailed lists available online that can help you to make the right choices. Find some here and here.
Get Your Pets Involved
Become an ocean-friendly pet owner by ensuring you read pet food labels and considering seafood sustainability when choosing a diet for your pet. Be sure to never flush cat litter, as it can contain pathogens that are extremely harmful to marine life. Never release any aquarium fish into the ocean or rivers, as this can introduce non-native species that are detrimental to the existing ecosystem. Equally, avoid stocking your fish tanks with wild-caught saltwater fish.
Travel the Ocean Responsibly
Practice responsible boating, kayaking, and other recreational activities on the water. Never throw anything overboard and be aware of marine life in the waters around you. If you’re set on taking a cruise for your next vacation, do some research to find the eco-friendliest option.
Check Your Cleaning Products
Almost everything you put down your drain will eventually end up in the ocean. To help keep both your local waterways and our seas healthy, make sure you pick your cleaning products carefully. The majority of household chores can be done with non-toxic ingredients, such as vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice.
But First, Educate Yourself!
All life on Earth is connected to the ocean and its inhabitants. The more you learn about the issues facing this vital system, the more you’ll want to help ensure its health—then share that knowledge to educate and inspire others.