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Fish chomping on microplastics, turtles strangled by beer rings, and waste piled high on beaches. The oceans are in trouble.
Have you ever wondered how you can help to save the oceans?
It is easy to feel inadequate and useless next to a problem so large. But this is far from the truth; the ‘average’ person can make a big difference to the environment. And yes, that means you.
The smallest of differences to your lifestyle and daily tasks can make a huge impact on the world we live in. So how can we help save the oceans?
Here are five easy changes you can make:
1. Shopping for sustainable seafood options
Start by making sure the fish you are purchasing has been harvested using safe methods.
Overfishing means that there are not enough of a fish species left to sustain a healthy population, and this can take decades to rectify. In some cases, where a fish species is removed from an environment, the whole ecosystem can collapse.
Buying fish sustainably reduces overfishing, maintains marine biodiversity and often contains more vitamins and minerals, which means it helps us too.
Do these things…
– Check for an MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) label, this blue tick means that the fish is considered to have been fished at a sustainable level.
– Ask your fishmonger – They are required to tell you everything they know about the fish they are selling.
– The Marine Conservation Society uses scientific research to provide consumers with information about marine life. Every year they create a Fish Guide to help you make sustainable choices about your fish.
2. Plastic free alternatives
Single use plastics such as plastic bottles can last up to 500 years in the ocean. These are some easy adjustments you can make to reduce this damage and save marine life…
– Carry a reusable water bottle instead of buying plastic bottles on a day or night out.
– Avoid plastic cutlery and straws, invest in metal straws.
– Take a cloth bag with you when you leave to do your food shop
– It may be a shock to find out that chewing gum actually contains plastic. This means you can recycle it!
3. Making easy and yummy seafood swaps
Through this website you can choose the fish or seafood you’d like to eat, and you will be provided with the best alternatives in terms of taste, sustainability, nutrition and price. Making small changes such as sources and variety of seafood can reduce the over-farming and production of specific species.
Here are some quick examples:
– Buying cod produced in the UK is currently an extremely unsustainable option. So if you do fancy cod for dinner, look for cod that has been caught in the waters surrounding Iceland, as the stocks are still healthy.
– Scallops and mussels farmed in the UK are great because they have a low environmental impact. So are an amazing alternative to prawns imported from other countries.
– Popular fish such as salmon and tuna are often farmed intensively. So go for healthier and eco-friendly options like trout or herring.
4. Protect the beaches
By 2050 there could be more plastic in the sea than fish and leaving waste on the beach means that it’s likely to end up in the ocean and destroy marine life. When you leave the beach after a lovely sunny day, make sure that you’re only leaving your footprints.
By 2050 there could be more plastic in the sea than fish
By 2050 there could be more plastic in the sea than fish
– Use sea-safe sun-cream! Two of the most frequently used ingredients in sun cream, oxybenzone and octinoxate, are deadly to corals and causes them to bleach, which can be fatal. However, you can use reef-safe sun cream that doesn’t include these ingredients which is especially important in tropical areas.
– There are green alternatives to most products out there – did you know that you can buy eco-friendly surf boards? Even greener picnic blankets and sandals, so watch out for eco-friendly substitutes before heading to the beach this summer.
– Clean up your local beaches, helping to clear small and easily forgotten debris will prevent it from flying into the ocean.
5. Conserve water
Conserving water saves energy, which is needed to filter, heat and pump water into homes, so reducing the amount of water you use daily will reduce your carbon footprint. Maintaining water in our ecosystems helps to keep aquatic habitats full of fish species and other animals like otters.
There are lots of ways to easily save little bits of water here and there, it all adds up.
– Turn the tap off while brushing your teeth. A running tap can waste more than six litres of water per minute
– Use a bowl in the sink when washing fruit, vegetables, or dishes. You can then use the waste water to water your plants.
– Check your property regularly for leaks on your internal plumbing.
6. Donate and volunteer
There are hundreds of different charities dedicated to bettering the state of the ocean, who do amazing work but run on funds donated by kind people around the world. It is easier than ever to click a few buttons and donate as little as £1 to ocean conservation. Alternatively, get stuck in and volunteer for beach clean-ups, lectures and campaigns.
Some links you may find useful:
Donate – Coast Magazine has a good roundup of organisations where your money would be most welcome
Volunteering opportunities – check this link on the Marine Conservation Soc site
Volunteering – get involved with beach cleans. Find your nearest clean-up gang on the Beach Cleans site
Fancy diving a bit deeper into longer term plans for the oceans? Read the MCS strategy booklet
7. Educate yourself!
Immerse yourself in media and literature to expand your knowledge of the ocean. The more you know about the sea and how your carbon footprint affects the life inside it, the easier it will be to take small steps towards the rejuvenation of ocean life. Some further reading…
WWF (World Wildlife Fund)