Beach trips are top priority for a lot of us just now able to start celebrating summer. But visiting those beaches bears some responsibility to take care of the beach itself. Here are my top 10 tips to do just that.
Use Coral-Safe Sunscreen
A lot of mainstream sunscreens (over 3,500 sunscreen products) contain oxybenzone and octinoxate. Both of these UV-filtering ingredients have been directly linked to coral bleaching, a death sentence for most coral. Other ingredients that you should be wary of include octocrylene, homosalate, and octisalate. Taking the time to check the ingredients in your sunscreen is an easy way to help protect the ocean you love visiting. The best ones are mineral sunscreens with "non-nanotized" zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. The point being to always check the ingredients list of your sunscreen, even if the front label says "reef safe." Check out this list for some great brands!
Tip: ingredients like zinc and titanium block out UV rays!
Use Reusable Food Containers
Who doesn't love a good beach snack? Whether it's chips or carrots, a sandwich or a salad, they can all go in a reusable container! Using reusable containers means you can be sure your beach trip won't leave a toxic trail of plastic behind you. Even if you take the ziploc bags with you back to your car, they could still very well end up in the ocean. Here are some of my favorite brands for metal containers, sandwich wraps, and reusable ziploc bags, but any brand from your local Walmart or Target will work!
Tip: make sure your reusable ziploc bags are TOTALLY DRY before you put them away or you risk growing mold (I'm talking from experience).
Use Reusable Water Bottles
This one is fairly similar to the last one, but I think deserves its own conversation. Single-use plastic bottles are suffocating our ecosystems through chemical leeching and killing off wildlife. Autopsied dead animals have been found with stomachs full of plastic meaning that they died of starvation with a seemingly full stomach. A huge part of going to the beach is to appreciate nature so it's vital to do your part to preserve the beauty of it. My personal favorite brand is HydroFlask, but any brand will do. Anything from LifeStraw to S'well to Lifefactory to Contigo will help you do your part. However, do know that glass or metal is better than plastic for the environment.
Use a Tote Bag
What's better than a cute and eco-friendly way to carry your stuff back and forth from the beach? EcoRight bags are my all time favorite bag brand and they have some adorable beach bags. However, another praised bag is this one from Amazon for its size and durability. Using a tote bag means you can say no to grocery bags and you can carry your cute eco-friendly beach items in a a cute eco-friendly tote bag! What's not to love?
Obey the Signs
Signs on the beach are there with a purpose. Whether it's to warn you of nearby nests or to stay off the dunes, there's a reason. Nearby nests near to be respected so be sure you keep your distance and try to minimize noise around them. Baby animals are cute, but they don't get paid for your photoshoots. Dunes serve as a place for birds to nest as well as protect inland areas from storm surges that could otherwise damage property. Goofing off on sand dunes can degrade their foundational stability so be sure to follow the signs.
Leave the Animals Alone!
When you go to the beach, you're in the animals' house. So when you show up and start bossing them around, it's kinda rude. If some turtles, crabs, or birds saddle up to you, just leave them alone. The beach has been theirs for hundreds of years; respect that. Definitely do not run up to and harass them nor should you feed them. Remember, you're at the beach to be a part of nature. Animals are nature.
Try Not to Take Shells
Yeah, okay, it's a bummer. I used to love to collect shells. But the truth is shells serve as nesting material for birds, a home for algae and other vital aquatic greenery, and both fish and hermit crabs can use them as shelter. It can be tempting to say "Well, if I take just one...", but if there's anything the Tragedy of the Commons has taught us, it's that we aren't the only ones taking just one. It's best just to leave the shell. Take a picture of it if it's that beautiful. But leave it for the animals and plants to preserve the ecosystem.
Use Eco-Friendly Pet Supplies
Bringing furry friends to the beach is an irresistible idea. The great news is even their supplies can be eco-friendly! Amazon has a great list of water bottles and food bowls. OllyDog has an awesome roll-up plush bed for the doggos to curl up on.
Buy Eco-Friendly Beach Toys
Playing in the sand is a must for most kids (and some adults!). I remember when I was little and I'd have to build the biggest sand castle possible. But these toys are often made of plastic and will most likely still end up breaking down in the ocean somewhere. Zoë B Fantastic Beach Toys and Green Toys are both great brands to consider.
Clean Up After Yourself
Finally, one of the most important things you can do is clean up after yourself. This means packing up everything you brought, even your trash and recycling (which there won't be much of because of your reusable containers, right?). Make sure your recycling goes in the right bin, not the trash, so that you know you did your part.