Guest post by Brad Nahill, SEE Turtles Director
For decades, the ocean has been the ultimate dumping ground. The statistics are truly staggering, from a study saying there will be more trash than fish by 2050 to another saying that 5 large bags of plastic end up in the ocean for every 1 foot of coast, every year.
The good news is that this problem is fixable. This World Ocean’s Day, all of us can impact the ocean in positive ways. Here are a few tips to help make the ocean a bit more healthy.
#1 Say Goodbye to Straws
It’s said that the human brain is the most complex thing in the Universe. Do we really need a plastic tube to help get liquids to our mouths? Single-use plastic straws may seem innocent, but when you see a video of a straw being extracted from a sea turtle’s nose, it’s enough to cause you to say, “no straw please” the next time you order a drink.
# 2 Bye Bye Balloons
We can dream up other ways to celebrate special occasions that don’t involve releasing a gaggle of balloons. They often make their way to the ocean…in the water, a balloon and it’s string looks a lot like a tasty jellyfish to a sea turtle. If you’re planning a celebration, consider other ways to mark the moment that a fleeting send-up of helium balloons.
#3 Reef-Friendly Sun Worship
Did you know that sunscreen slathered skin can be a source of pollution? Sunscreens that contain the chemical oxybenzone damage coral reefs. As little as one drop in the equivalent of six Olympic-sized swimming pools can damage coral reefs. Read the label before choosing your sun protection; or consult this guide to find better sunscreens to wear in the ocean.
#4 Bare Your Sole (or invest in footwear that lasts)
Some brands of flip flops are simply not made to last. These wear and toss type of flip flops are one of the most common products found littering beaches around the world. In Kenya, Ocean Sole collects discarded flip flops from beaches and turns them into beautiful wildlife creations. Check them out in the SEE Turtles shop!
#5 Shop Carefully on Vacay
In many tropical places, especially around Latin America, souvenir shops and artisans sell items made from the shell of critically endangered hawksbill sea turtles (sometimes mistakenly referred to as “tortoise shell”). Keep an eye out for these items and avoid shops that sell items made from sea turtle shells. More info here. Add your name to the Too Rare To Wear pledge to avoid turtle shell.
#6 Practice the Law of Reduction
Countries,states, and cities around the world are taking action to reduce waste through bans or fees on plastic bags, Styrofoam, and other plastics. These bans can have a huge impact – a tax on plastic bags reduced their use by a whooping 75% in Ireland! And a bag fee in Washington, D.C. has reduced their use by 50%. Encouraging your decision-makers to enact these policies is a simple act that can have a huge impact. And of course, remember to BYOBag whenever you shop.
Can you think of other ways we can help our oceans? Share them with me in the comments below. I’d love to hear them!