One of my favorite parts about summer is spending time on the beach. Listening to the waves crash over and over, each one washing another worry away, is one of the most relaxing vacations I can think of. But if you’ve been to a beach recently, chances are you found more than shells and seaweed washed up: plastic is choking our oceans. The problem seems way too big for any individual to make a difference, with over 8 million tons of plastic entering the ocean every year. And once plastic is in the environment, it never goes away. Plastic bags and bottles just break down into smaller and smaller pieces of microplastics that are eaten by plankton, fish, and other creatures, entering the food chain and ultimately winding up in us.
But you can change this! By showing up for your next beach day prepared to go plastic-free, you can help reduce pollution in the ocean. Read on for our tips to keep trash out of the sea.
First, make sure you’re not contributing to the problem. Take your snacks and drinks to the beach in reusable containers, like Blue Verve Project’s sleek stainless steel bottles. When you pack up to leave, make sure to take a second look around to make sure no stray trash is left behind.
You can go above and beyond to leave the beach a little nice than when you found it. In addition to picking up your own trash, pick up three more pieces of trash to take off the beach and dispose of properly. Find inspiration from Take 3 for the Sea, an organization that collectively removes over 10 million pieces of trash every year. Individual actions really do add up!
Want to take your sustainable actions even further? Look for swimwear made from recycled materials to go with your recycled Sherpani bag. Waterlust is one of our favorite brands that makes sustainable styles and also contributes to marine conservation.
When you’re craving a snack from the beach bar, you can come prepared with your own utensils, like this cute travel utensil set. Not only will you avoid plastic waste, you’ll set an example for others to see how easy it is to eliminate single use plastics.
Choose reef safe sunscreen to protect yourself. While not technically plastic, many sunscreens contain chemicals like oxybenzone that are harmful to corals and marine ecosystems. Look for sunscreens that use minerals like zinc instead to protect yourself from sunburn without harming the environment.
Planning a snorkel or dive trip to get up close and personal with marine wildlife? Look for tour operators that uphold environmental standards, like the Green Fins certification, or accommodations that are part of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.
Lastly, join a local beach cleanup – or if there isn’t one happening near you, organize your own! Gather a few friends, some trash bags, and gloves and get to work – it’s really that easy.
Have other ideas for keeping beaches pristine this summer? Share them with us in the comments!