Sustainability Tips to Protect the Ocean

Did you know that you owe over one out of two breaths to the Ocean? That’s right! Probably about time we did more to protect the ocean, right!?

The ocean produces about 70% of the air we breathe.
It covers 71% of the world and holds 97% of the Earth’s water.
It’s home to up to 80% of all life on Earth (which – let’s be real – should be called Planet Ocean).
It absorbs 50 times more CO2 than the atmosphere.

Our amazing oceans are now threatened by warming climates, which is causing ocean acidification and mass coral bleaching, by overfishing, by coastal pollution… and we have seen how it is choking with plastic, including microplastics. Those tiny plastic particles have now also made our way into the food chain.

It’s now or never! We need to make some changes around here. It all feels very daunting. So maybe you don’t know what to do or where to start?

Here come sustainability tips that are perfect for ocean lovers to protect the place they love. Let’s all do our bit to help protect the ocean …

PROTECT SHARKS

The poor buggers have an awful reputation, which has unfortunately allowed mass killing of the species. Know that a “shark attack” is actually a “shark bite” due to environmental factors (learn more about how to be safe in their waters by downloading this free guide) and more people die crushed by vending machines or from coconut falls. Humans however have been mass depleting the ocean of sharks for their fins in soups and the traditional medicine trade.

It doesn’t stop there. Shark is found in many products and we may unknowingly have some in our homes already. Check in your food supplements, beauty products and medications for “squalene”, or in your drinks for “chondroitin”, or your pet’s food, or your food (imitation crab sticks, fish fillets, etc.), or even in garden fertilizer… Make sure your home is shark free, and that you stand up for them when they need you because, as apex predators, they’re a crucial element to the balance of the fascinating underwater world. A healthy aquatic ecosystem needs more sharks.

Read : Why sharks are important ocean heroes

every year over 50 million sharks are caught as bycatch - we need to protect them to protect the ocean
We need to protect sharks to help protect the ocean

SKIP SINGLE USE

This is an obvious, but tricky one. Of course, there are the basic ones such as bag, bottle, cup, cutlery, container, straw and tissues. Unfortunately, the pandemic has made it even harder. If it’s still possible in your area, definitely skip all the basic single use items listed above and take it a step further by shopping with produce bags or baskets at farmers markets and zero waste stores.

When I lack motivation, I personally always think of the beached whales with stomachs full of plastic, the poor turtles that rescuers helped by extracting a straw and a fork from their nostrils and all the marine and land creatures that have to deal with the waste we produce; because we have put convenience above their well-being and the planet and we have let the corporations get away with it for too long. Vote with your money. Purchase power is the only thing corporations will listen to aside from the laws (which are slowly starting to arrive, thanks again, to consumer demand).

pic of a turtle to motivate you to protect the ocean
Cute turtle to help motivate you to protect the ocean :)

AVOID CHEMICALS

Everything we use has chemicals. Now, technically they’re not all bad but, for the sake of this article, just know that when I say chemicals I mean harmful ones. Technically, this one of the most important of the sustainability tips because our homes are filled with them. At least, most cleaning products are honest about it and display a skull warning on the back. However, you’ll be horrified to learn that not all companies are straightforward and you’re very likely putting harmful chemicals on your skin or on the things you touch on a daily basis. From beauty products and sunscreens to soaps and laundry detergents / cleaning products, etc.

Read : Chemicals in cosmetics impact us and the environment

a girl applying reef safe sunscreen to help protect the ocean
Check out a list of reef friendly sunscreens on Laurainwaterland.com

Also check out Laurainwaterland.com for tips on how to make your own more eco-friendly products and for lots of sustainable swaps.

SHOP CONSCIOUSLY

You know where else there are toxic chemicals? In fields where farmers grow the foods we eat. Agricultural run off actually is detrimental to the Ocean. So buying organic food doesn’t just protect your health and that of the field workers and locals living near agricultural exploitations… it also protects the Ocean. The same thing can be said for the fashion industry or other polluting industries. Ocean dead zones have depleted oxygen levels and become devoid of aquatic biodiversity.

In fashion for example, before the finished garment makes it to our wardrobes, it must be heavily treated and dyed. Very few factories actually clean their water before releasing it into waterways… rivers… and eventually the Ocean. The solution is simple: treasure what you have, fix your clothes instead of discarding them, buy less, and privilege second hand clothing first. If you must buy new, look into ethical brands via Good on you and look for small brands with a good ethos and sustainability credentials. Our clothes also influence the ocean plastic pollution. The biggest source of ocean microplastics is synthetic clothing. When we launder synthetic clothes, they shed tiny microfibers, so it’s also important to use a filter and pick natural fabrics when possible.

Read : Tips for choosing a sustainable material & The problem with microfibres

EAT MORE PLANTS

It may seem far fetch to connect our diet to the Ocean. But what we put on our plates truly impacts the environment in a wide range of ways, starting with fish. The fishing industry is responsible for most of the plastic in the Ocean, abandoning about 640000 tons of ghost nets each year. Since these nets are made from plastic, they can keep killing for centuries! So, one of the most significant changes you can make to keep the Ocean plastic free is actually to stop eating seafood. Fish farms are ecological disasters and mangroves forests are cut down to harvest prawns.

When it comes to the animals we consume that share the land with us, it unfortunately doesn’t get much better. Cattle is especially problematic with issues regarding forest destruction to clear land to grow soy to feed them, and high GHG emissions all along the supply chain.

If you aren’t ready to go vegan, it’s absolutely your choice. My advice would be to avoid seafood and beef, and treat all meat as a side dish instead of the main attraction of your meal. Reduce your intake. If everyone eats one vegan meal a day or even a few per week, it makes a difference in the end.

Why not give #fishfreefebruary a go this month to see if you could cut down on your consumption?!

Could you make some small changes to your diet to help protect the ocean?

PLANT GREENS

Planting helps restore our soil, which, at first glance, you might think “how does this help the Ocean?” Well, you surely know that trees trap carbon and produce some of the oxygen we breathe. So, when talking of sustainability solutions, we are often advised to plant trees. However, many smaller plants also have great capacity for trapping carbon. Don’t disregard any green plant or environment because they all play a role, including peats. Our planet definitely needs more green and it would take pressure off the Ocean from doing more than its share. So plant a tree, a flower, whatever is local and available to you. If you don’t have access to green spaces, you can always plant a tree via sites like Trees for Future

USE YOUR VOICE

Last but not least… Individual actions do matter. Never doubt that they’re important. But alone, they are not enough because not everyone cares and not everyone has access to the same privileges. More importantly, as long as environmental protection laws are insufficient, unwilling politicians and greedy corporations can keep wrecking havoc on our planet.

The power to vote and speak freely is a privilege that our ancestors had to fight for. We should never take it for granted. If you care about a cause, start or sign petitions, write to and call the politicians in power, and vote green. And if there’s a strike, go to it.

If you feel unsafe or are unable to due to mobility issues, you can usually support the strikes online too! Never before have we had such a powerful tool as social media. It has its flaws, but social media has enabled anyone with access to the internet to become an activist and be heard.

What other sustainability tips to protect the ocean would you share?

Laura is a lover of all things water, a passionate diver and ocean advocate. Check out her site laurainwaterland.com for more helpful tips / sustainable suggestions and give her a follow on IG @laurainwaterland to take part in her journey.

Sources

2020 UN Ocean Conference

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