There is an island in the Pacific. It has beautiful white sand beaches, its a sanctuary for marine life, and it is littered with the highest concentration of garbage anywhere on the planet. This is a direct result of mismanaged waste, and it is something that should concern you even from thousands of miles away. This isn't just an issue on Henderson Island, though. Rivers, lakes, and coastlines worldwide are covered in a layer of human pollution. I know what you're thinking; yes you probably are trying. Not using plastic straws and recycling your boxes really does make a difference.
But the bigger picture extends far beyond individual people and the efforts to be green we are all taking. Everyone has seen the devastating photos of oil spills and trash stuck in marine animals noses. Everyone has seen the "our planet is dying" tweets and scrolled past them. This Earth Day, let's do something good. Let's say "yes" to helping our planet. Let's be the advocates for change and protection of our oceans. Let's make a difference.
It's time to step up and make a change
Everyone loves the idea of heading down to nice sunny Florida and spending spring break soaking up the rays on the shore, but soon that won't be an option anymore. Those beautiful, pristine white beaches we all know and love are a luxury that is soon to be a mark of the past. But there is still hope. There are so many things we can all do every day that makes a difference in the long run. Organizations like Oceana, The Monterey Bay Aquarium, and The Ocean Conservancy are all dedicated to making a difference and protecting our oceans. But you can help from wherever you are in the world.
The little things matter, and each and every one of us can be better about loving this beautiful planet we live on... because after all, it is the only one we have. So here are a few things that you can do right now to make a difference for our future.
Recycling plastics is a HUGE way you can contribute to the health of the planet. Encouraging others to put their water bottles in the blue bin and not the trash is something so doable and so significant. You can also participate in programs like Terracycle to recycle more than just what your city may accept. Turns out, 75% of all waste on earth is able to be recycled, but only 30% of it is. This is, no pun intended, GROSS.
2. Stop littering
I bet you had no idea that the most littered item on earth is cigarette butts. If you smoke, not only are you slowly killing yourself, you're slowly killing marine life too. Even things like that wrapper that flew out of your pocket are contributing to the mass of garbage in the oceans. Every little bit matters, every pebble makes a wave. Making sure our garbage ends up in the correct place is really important.
3. Use sustainable seafood
If you're going to eat fish, make sure you know where it is coming from. This handy guide from the Monterey Bay Aquarium will help you decide which fish to avoid and which are okay to eat. Overfishing is a huge problem right now, so doing your part to eat abundant fish and help steer away from species destruction is super important.
4. Reduce your carbon footprint
As cliche as it sounds, reducing the impact you have on the environment helps the oceans too. Taking shorter showers, riding your bike when it's nice outside, or even carpooling to work are all great and simple ways to reduce your carbon footprint. This website has some other helpful ways to incorporate environmental care into your daily life.
5. Be a responsible pet owner
You're probably thinking "what on earth does my dog have to do with the ocean?" Well, like I mentioned earlier, overfishing is a huge issue plaguing the oceans right now, and your dog's favorite pet foods may be contributing to the issue. Check the label for fish free foods! Also, never dump cat litter anywhere other than the trash, it can find it's ways to waterways and eventually the seas. If you're thinking of starting an awesome saltwater aquarium, make sure that the fish you are stocking are not wild caught and your corals are captive raised!
6. Educate yourself
Do your research and know the issues plaguing the environment right now today. Getting this far in this list is a great start, but try clicking some of the links and asking more questions, who knows, you may find yourself becoming an ocean advocate!
7. Educate others
Let your friends and family know about the way we are influencing our world and the issues that face the oceans. After all, it is our planet to inherit and we won't be able to do that if it isn't around to provide for us. Even just encouraging your friends to use less plastic is a huge job well done.
8. Enjoy responsibly
The next time you find yourself out in the water enjoying all the planet has for us, make sure you leave it better than you found it. Don't throw things overboard, keep an eye out for the marine life around you, and grab that plastic bottle you see floating around. Everyone can say "yes" to doing simple little things that make a difference!
9. Support companies that support the planet
There are all kinds of companies nowadays that are dedicated to providing products that will clean the beaches or support marine conservation funds. Even Adidas has launched a new line of products that partner with Parley to bring you clothing that includes plastic found along beaches and shores. Companies like 4Ocean, Guy Harvey, and Freestyle All offer products that are snazzy and also benefit the ocean. Look good, feel good am I right?
10. Do something
Every little thing makes a difference. It may seem trivial at times, but I pinky promise that if all 7 billion of us picked up just one piece of trash, it would be a huge huge impact. Don't get discouraged at the world and the length we have to go, get encouraged by the progress we have made and the amount we have learned. Most of all, this earth day and every day, take the initiative to step out of you comfort zone and say "yes" to making a small change for the better!