Everyone loves the beach, especially with temperatures climbing into the 80s and 90s as July continues on. But as we continue to enjoy salty hair and sandy toes for the rest of the summer, we also want to be sure we’re paying attention to the impact we’re having on our beaches. Marine litter and plastic pollution are huge issues in the marine ecosystem, and it’s on us to do everything in our power to correct that. This week, we want to highlight some easy things we can all do to be sustainable and green (or blue) whenever we visit our beaches and coastlines.
Let’s start off with the problem: beach trash is running rampant across our planet. Of the top 8 items found in beach cleanups, 7 of them are plastic products. And many of them are products that can easily be switched out for a reusable or more sustainable single-use alternative. Taking this into account, what’s stopping us from bringing a reusable water bottle instead of a single-use one? Why can’t we toss our chip bags in the trash or take our bags home to throw away properly? Making a difference is SO SIMPLE. It won’t even be an inconvenience, and it will actually save you hundreds of dollars a year. So why are we still so stuck on using plastic?
Now the solution: here are 7 easy steps to have a 100% blue beach day
- SUNSCREEN – Choose a sunscreen that doesn’t contain the chemical oxybenzone. Oxybenzone doesn’t provide any essential functionality to the sunblock, and is also very harmful to marine ecosystems, especially coral reefs. By choosing a bluer alternative, you can protect yourself, and marine life.
- LUNCHTIME – Pack your lunch and fixings in reusable containers or paper bags, rather than single-use plastic bags. When you can’t avoid plastic try to minimize it; bring one large bag of chips to share rather than multiple individual bags.
- WATER BOTTLES – Leave the single-use bottles on the shelf and grab a filtered water pitcher and reusable bottle. Your water will taste better, and you keep hundreds of bottles from entering the waste and recycling streams. And even better, this can save you hundreds of dollars over a long period of time.
- TRASH – Be sure to bring a trash bag to the beach and collect any trash you make. And you can even go a step further and pick up other trash that you find on the beach. Following the mantra of “leave no trace” is a great way to live when visiting the beach.
- DON’T TAKE SAND – Sand, shells, rocks, and other beachy souvenirs are key components of the coastal ecosystem as well as the physical structure of the beach. You should avoid removing them. Instead, take pictures as souvenirs, or grab a trinket at a local gift shop.
- MARINE LIFE – Starfish, jellies, crabs, and other marine critters need to be in the water to survive. If you’re lucky enough to see them, leave them be. Don’t pick them up or attempt to catch them. Let them live their lives without interference.
- ENCOURAGE OTHERS – One person is great, but 10 people is better! By encouraging your friends, family, and local businesses to make greener and bluer choices in relationship to their beaches, the effect will spread, creating a positive domino effect on the marine and coastal ecosystems.
We’ve taken our natural world for granted in the past. We’ve littered, trampled, and pushed it until it nearly suffocated. However, we also have the ability to turn things around and bring our planet back to full health. The beaches are a great place to start. Whenever you dig your toes in this summer, make sure you’re taking care of your local shoreline. Pick up trash, leave no trace, and always be aware of the footprints that you leave behind.