If you’ve ever stood on a paddleboard or gathered seashells or sat on a surfboard, you know the feeling. Watching waves crashing onto shore or the anticipation of the rolling water as a boat passes by in the distance gives you a sense of awe, excitement and fear as you think of how open and limitless the ocean is. Whether you’re surfer in Hawaii or kayaking in the calmer waters of Mission Bay in San Diego, the water is something that connects us all. Today, the ocean is of particular interest as various organizations work towards protecting this body of open water. Why would a day be observed just for the ocean? Because the oceans provide food and medicine, regulate climates and produce oxygen; their health determines our well-being. Currently oceans are being threatened with plastic waste which in turn harms animals who mistake plastic for food. What can you do to participate in our oceans’ health? Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Find ways to reduce plastic waste and use. If you’re heading out for summer travels, consider a few tips I found after participating in Plastic Free July during a road trip. Eco-Warrior Princess also has some great everyday ideas to eliminate and reduce plastic in your life.
- Take on challenges from World Oceans Day including the Better Bag Challenge and Wave for Change. Bringing awareness to the problems of plastic use and finding solutions are what will help our oceans continue to thrive.
- World Oceans Day also lists events around the world for everyone to join including beach clean-ups, symposiums and activities in zoos and aquariums. Find an event in your local community to be a part of. The Ocean Project also has great last-minute ideas for organizations and individuals.
- Commit to purchasing cloth grocery bags and leave them in your car so you can have them for all kinds of shopping. I found this helped me when I would go shopping and realize I forgot bags. Having them already in the car stopped me from forgetting the most important thing for my shopping trip!
- Not near an ocean? Not a problem. Go enjoy outdoor activities, start gardening projects, visit a local garden or park or go for a hike and support nature at its finest. Take one step further by unplugging electronics when they’re not in use so you’re not wasting energy.
- Buy reusable water bottles and commit to not purchasing disposable water bottles. Although advancements like recycled polyester uses plastic bottles to make their fibers, less plastic bottle waste is the ultimate answer to this problem. It’s also important to note that companies using primarily synthetic fibers also can’t control that microfibers won’t end up polluting the ocean when you wash your clothes, it might make you think differently about the fabrics you buy and how often you wash your clothing. Do you need to wash something you’ve only worn after a few hours? Think about how this might affect our oceans before you assume it needs to be washed.
I’m sure there are many other actions and activities you can participate in for World Oceans Day, but consider a couple of these for a start and incorporate more into your everyday life. There are many issues that harm our environment, but transforming our habits one step at a time makes the world better for everyone, whether your onshore or under the sea. The next time you head to the beach for some sun or to catch the waves, think twice before you dispose of plastic containers or purchase a case of water bottles for your day in the ocean. President Obama’s signing of a bill for banning microbeads is only the beginning when it comes to reducing plastic that has infiltrated and polluted our oceans. Seeing things this way may convince you to think of our oceans differently the next time you’re at the beach.
What else do you think we can do to protect our oceans?