When you hear about Earth’s oceans in danger, it should spark your attention and make you curious about how to get involved in doing your part to save it. Overfishing, climate change, and pollution are currently troubling the waters. While larger corporations have a significant amount of changes to make, you might not even realize some things you do daily contribute to these destructive factors.
Luckily, a few lifestyle changes can bring a significant amount of improvement to the environment. Here are 10 simple ways you can save our oceans.
Why You Should Care About the Ocean
Caring for the ocean should be a priority for everyone. It does so many amazing things for all living beings on the planet. There are a few things to consider if you’re wondering why you should care:
- Regulates climate and provides air: The ocean absorbs a good amount of carbon emissions in the air and generates at least half the oxygen you need to survive. It serves as a carbon sink to combat the negative impacts of climate change and regulates the temperature on land by taking in excess heat.
- Feeds us: Many of the animal proteins we eat are from the ocean. Tons of fish go to waste yearly and people should appreciate the food the water provides instead of using destructive fishing strategies.
- Provides jobs and livelihoods: Over three billion people have jobs that require Earth’s ocean. It’s an industry that provides for many families, with much of the sector’s positions in developing countries. It’s critical to stop polluting the ocean to protect ocean-based industries and fisheries.
Ways to Protect the Ocean
The world’s ocean is critical to life on Earth. However, many aspects of human life threaten the various animals and plants that live there, altering the makeup of these vital waterways. If you want to make a difference and help protect our water, start with these 10 tips. They may seem simple, but they can make a significant change if everyone participates.
1. Lower Your Carbon Footprint
Surface sea temperatures in the Gulf of Maine increased faster than 99% of the global ocean over the last decade. The ocean absorbs almost all the excess heat from burning fossil fuels, leading to warmer waters that affect fish and coral reefs, increase sea levels, alter the weather, and change how marine life reproduces. Carbon dioxide alone is making the ocean more acidic.
You can reduce your carbon footprint by making simple lifestyle changes. It can start at home by unplugging electronics when you’re not using them, adjusting your thermostat, and turning off the lights. You can also ride a bike or walk instead of using a car, buy sustainable wild-caught seafood, or take the stairs instead of the elevator.
2. Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle
Single-use plastics like water bottles, take-out containers, and plastic bags pollute the ocean and destroy the ecosystems. It dramatically impacts marine life as they can ingest and get stuck in the items thrown in. Over 30 billion pounds of plastic end up in the ocean each year. The volume of floating plastic waste is growing more than you think — a collection of floating garbage in the North Pacific Ocean is about the size of Texas and is almost all plastic.
The best way to make a difference is simply cutting down on disposable packaging and products. Even eliminating a straw can go a long way toward reducing ocean plastic. Imagine the effects of every American skipping a couple of straws each year. The impact would be worth it.
You can also urge companies to provide customers with plastic-free options. Bring reusable coffee cups and water bottles throughout the day to avoid getting plastic ones.
3. Eat Sustainably
Fisheries are now and continue to be overexploited, significantly depleted or are recovering from over-exploitation. Certain fish are so popular that they get overfished and are starting to die out, as they have no time to reproduce before people harvest them.
When grocery shopping, do your part by checking the labels and choosing sustainable seafood. There will be Marine Stewardship Council and Aquaculture Stewardship Council labels if they are sustainable. The blue and green logos ensure you can trace your fish back to a sustainable fishery or farm.
There are also online guides from Seafood Watch to help you make sustainable choices. Pay close attention to the type of seafood you eat and where it comes from with the guide. It locates markets and restaurants near you with sustainable seafood and gives recommendations.
4. Avoid Products that Harm the Ocean
More products are directly linked to harming the ocean than you think. Many threaten endangered species, are related to unsustainable fishing methods or cause pollution. A significant example is products with shark squalene, coral or sea turtle shell jewelry, and souvenirs of shells. Products like this support unsustainable fishing and can harm endangered species.
Plastic microbeads are other common additions to products used to scrub and exfoliate the body. Since they are so tiny, they make it through water filtration and processing plants that clean them out. Millions of these small beads end up in waterways and the ocean, where marine life can mistake them for food and eat them.
Detergents high in phosphate also affect the environment. They can accumulate in water systems and causes algae to bloom, depleting the water’s oxygen and suffocating marine life.
You can help by picking up clean products and ditching harsh chemicals with non-toxic cleaning products. Whether it’s household items or cosmetics, choose the ones made from organic ingredients.
5. Travel Responsibly
Practice responsible boating, diving, kayaking, and other water entertainment. Never throw things overboard and be aware of the marine life in the water around you. You are using their home to do the activities, so it’s only fitting to do your part and respect it.
6. Pick Up Garbage Near Beaches
If you live near a beach or are visiting, you can do a small but effective act of cleaning it up a little. Beach crowds increase as the year goes on and so does the amount of trash. Bring a trash bag with you, collect any loose debris, and dispose of it properly. If you like to dive, you can organize dives to clean the ocean floor or volunteer on beach clean-ups when you can.
7. Leave Nothing Behind
In addition to cleaning up the beach in your free time, make sure you’re being responsible on your trips to the beach. Don’t let your beach day contribute to pollution and the destruction of the ocean. Clean up your area and remind the people you are with the importance of doing so too.
8. Vote On Ocean Issues
Take note of public officials that support good ocean policies and are passionate about protecting marine life. Making an informed decision on who you’re voting for could increase the chances of ocean protection policies. After an election, keep following up on the policies that are important to you. Reminding politicians of the reasons they got elected can push them to make a change.
9. Continue Learning About the Ocean
The more you learn, the more your education will inspire you to make a change. There is much to learn about the ocean, what it does for us, animals, and more. When you continue learning, you’ll realize how vital these waterways are to our planet.
There are endless ways to educate yourself about the ocean and its challenges. If you teach yourself, you can spread that knowledge to others and get them involved with conservation.
10. Support Organizations Working to Protect the Ocean
Many organizations and institutions are working to protect the ocean’s marine life and habitats. You can participate in marine conservation by joining groups or donating to a cause. Lend a hand to the communities that care about the same thing as you and work together to create a healthier ocean. The more active you are, the more will get done and you can spread the word to others.
Help Protect the Ocean Today
There’s no time like the present to start implementing these tips into your daily life. You can start with simpler ones, like educating yourself and working on more actionable ways to protect the ocean. You don’t need to change your whole life to do your part. Every action makes a difference — the more people make changes, the more the ocean heals.