As marine conservationists and avid scuba divers, we here at TRACC are passionate about saving our oceans. The ocean is the earths lifeline, as our largest ecosystem it is also our largest life support system. For all of us to survive, it’s essential to keep our seas as happy and healthy as possible. The task of saving our oceans can be pretty overwhelming, with so many different aspects having a direct impact on our oceans health. But fear not! Here are five small things you, and everyone, can do to help keep our oceans happy.
1. Opt out of using plastic straws.
It’s no secret that our oceans are littered with plastic, but one of the worst contenders is the plastic straw. Everyday, we use over 500,000,000 straws in the USA alone, and a large chunk of those end up in our oceans. Due to being small and lightweight in nature, they almost always end up not being recycled. Their size also makes them one of the worst pollutants, as they entangle marine life and end up swallowed by fish. When you can, opt out of having a single use straw, or better yet take a reusable one around with you. Ready to give them up completely? Check out the personal challenges like the ones run by Ocean Conservancy or the Last Plastic Straw and take your pledge today.
2. Use Reef/Marine-Safe Sunscreen.
In general, organic and natural sunscreens are going to be much kinder to our oceans then the conventional brands.
Swimming, snorkelling, or diving in the ocean and sun exposure go hand in hand, meaning protecting our skin and applying SPF is bound to come to mind. But is your sunscreen reef-safe? Chemicals contained in some sunscreens are toxic and can be harmful to our reefs. Some can even cause coral bleaching to occur even at low levels. So what should you look out for? Reading the ingredients is going to be key. Keep your eyes peeled for reef-damaging substances such as oxybenzone, butylparaben, octinoxate and 4-methylbenzylidine camphor. In general, organic and natural sunscreens are going to be much kinder to our oceans then the conventional brands. Look for ones that use physical sunblocks such as zinc or titanium oxide. Here is a good one to help get you started.
3. Support your local fishing communities and buy sustainable seafood.
Overfishing is one of the biggest epidemics of our time, and is one of the biggest contributing factors to the death of our oceans. One of the best things we can do is stop eating fish altogether. Not ready to give it up? Then support your local fisherman. The sustainable alternative is to buy fish from small-scale fishers only. Another option is to opt for less-common fish species. By choosing something that isn’t as frequently caught, we can help reduce the amount of overfishing. Check out this article by David Suzuki for some ideas.
4. “Bring Your Own”
Going back to our over consumption of plastic, another easy way to help stop that plastic from going into our oceans is choosing reusable containers in exchange for single consumption waste. Going to Starbucks? Bring your own mug (you even get a 10% discount). Going grocery shopping? Bring old plastic bags or even invest in some cloth alternatives. Drinking water? Invest in a sustainable, BPA-free bottle instead of purchasing plastic pre-bottled water. These ones keep your water cold for 24hrs and help communities around the world get clean and safe fresh drinking water.
5. Say No to Microbeads
Commonly found in hygiene products such as toothpaste or body wash, microbeads are tiny bits of plastic used to help scrub and exfoliate. They’re too small for filtration systems or processing plants to clean them out of water, meaning millions of these little beads end up in rivers and streams, which eventually bring them into our oceans. Fish and sea life commonly mistake these little beads as food, and end up dying due to the toxic plastic they’re made from. The USA has already banned products from being made, which goes in effect this July, and they’ll stop being sold coming January, 2018. Not from the USA? You can still choose other products and help keep our oceans clean.