We love our beach days! Chilling with an ice cold drink; spending time with family and friends; soaking up the sun… the best days ever! If we want these days to continue, we have to keep the beach clean.
Right now there are over 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic in our oceans. Over 269,000 tons of debris float on the surface and kill more than 200,000 marine creatures every year! 50-80% of marine debris is plastic. It breaks down into smaller pieces, but never goes away. Marine animals often mistake it for food, and can end up choking or starving to death. It also entangles and injures them, making it difficult to swim or fly, and could lead to drowning. Unfortunately, this number is rising.
Those of us who are active on social media have likely seen the videos of turtles with plastic rings wrapped around their bodies and dolphins with fishing line stuck in their fins. The best way to stop this is to prevent more trash from going into our beautiful oceans! We’ve come up with some obvious and not-so-obvious ways that you can help.
First – the obvious:
Here are the top 5 things you can do to help reduce pollution in our waterways and ocean:
Don’t Bring Plastic
Avoid single use plastic bags. Bring your snacks in reusable bags or containers! Bring your drink in a reusable insulated bottle. This method will help immensely and you still get to enjoy those snacks and drinks that you love so much. Heck, you may even set an example for the family next to you.
Throw Everything Away
As soon as you map out your spot at the beach, look for the trash cans. We all know that trash doesn’t just disappear so bring your own bag and dispose of your trash properly.
If You Spot Trash… you’re very likely to find a bottle or two as you stroll on the beach! Be an example and safely pick it up and throw it away. We know it’s impossible for you to pick up everything you find on the beach, but picking up a couple of items will go a long way to help keep the beach clean.
Smoking is Harmful and not just to you
Cigarette butts are one of the leading beach pollutants. 32% of all trash collected in ocean clean-up efforts consists of cigarette butts. Just a single cigarette butt can cause so much damage. Often mistaken for food by marine life and water fowl, the toxins in them usually lead to death. Even beyond the beach, these nasty things wind up in our waterways when discarded in parking lots and along the roads. We won’t tell you not to smoke, but if you do, please dispose of the butt properly.
Take Care of Your Pets
We love our furry friends just as much as you do but, let’s be honest, they can make a mess. If you’ve brought your pup to the beach, that’s great! We love seeing dogs frolic in the water. Just remember to pick up after them. Burying their poop in the sand doesn’t count. You need to bag and dispose of it properly. Plus, you wouldn’t want to step in poop, right? When not properly disposed on, it can wind up in the ocean and lead to harmful bacteria levels. So, bring Fido but don’t forget the bags! Not only is it better for our beaches, you can avoid a hefty fine as well. For more information on bringing your dog to the beach, click here.
Get Involved in a Beach Clean Up
Keeping our beaches clean extends beyond your family’s day at the beach. There are several groups that organize monthly or quarterly beach clean-up efforts. Boulineau’s participates annually in the efforts conducted by our Department of Natural Resources. In addition, your church, school, or other civic group can adopt a piece of the beach to clean on a regular basis. For more information on that, click here.
Now – the not so obvious:
Whether it’s souvenirs or tasty food for your beach day, buying local will help to reduce the stress on the environment by reducing packaging and shipping costs that come with shopping at larger retailers. You are also more likely to be supporting an organization that has a direct impact on the neighborhood environment by shopping local as the folks that work there live there and have a vested interest in the community because it’s theirs.
Do Not Release Balloons
I hate to bring this up because it’s a hot topic issue for so many but people don’t realize that releasing balloons into the air has damaging repercussions for our oceans and marine life. Once they deflate, they often wind up in our ocean. Sea turtles and other marine life mistake them for food and often become entangled in the strings that are attached to them. Instead, why not try blowing bubbles, throwing edible flowers into the ocean, or releasing butterflies? These are much better alternatives and are much safer for our oceans and the aquatic life that lives in them.
Get Involved in Local Politics
Some of the most important decisions about beaches are made at the local level. Get involved at the ground (ahem – sand) level by participating in elections, campaigns and other events happening right in your neighborhood. Attend planning committee meetings and go to city council meetings. Stay informed about things that might impact beach issues, like approvals for new developments, ordinances that change the way beaches can be used, and measures to set aside beaches as public spaces.
Join a Wildlife Monitoring Program
Also referred to as “citizen scientists”, wildlife monitors are important figures in beach communities. They can help with initiatives that require a lot of time on the ground, but don’t have the resources to provide staff to watch every square inch of beach. If you become a wildlife monitor, you’ll have a section of beach to watch for turtles, birds and other species of interest, and you can record everything about them while also protecting them from interference; for example, you might monitor turtles during nesting season to make sure they aren’t disrupted. Check out one of our local sea turtle groups here.
Your work will help to rebuild dwindling animal populations, protect species that need a little help, and gather important data for scientists working on environmental protection issues. If you don’t have the time or ability to volunteer, you can also contribute financially to these programs. If you don’t live by a beach, but you visit every year with your family, maybe you can contribute to its monitoring program every year as part of your visit.
Travel the Ocean Responsibly
Practice responsible boating, kayaking, and other recreational activities on the water. Never throw anything overboard, and be aware of marine life in the waters around you. Use cleaning and maintenance products on your boat (and in your home) that are less harmful to the ocean. Dispose of your trash and recyclables properly and follow discharge regulations in your area.
If you’re set on taking a cruise for your next vacation, do some research to find the most eco-friendly option.
“Green” Sunscreen (yep –it’s a thing)
Sunscreen is a vital part of any beach day, but did you know that certain sun blocks have a negative impact on our environment and your skin? When chemical-based sunscreen washes off in the ocean, it can leave behind residues that are harmful marine life, particularly coral reefs, according to a 2008 study published in Environmental Health Perspective. Active chemical ingredients can also penetrate your skin, which poses a potential health risk. Opt for a biodegradable, mineral-based sunscreen for protection that’s healthy for you and the planet.
Dispose of waste in an environmentally safe way
Harmful waste can end up in the ocean when not properly disposed of, hurting the health of our beaches. Recycle and reuse whenever possible, and dispose of chemicals properly – never pour them down the drain or in the toilet. Grease, food waste and trash in drains and garbage disposals can cause blockages in our water treatment system, which can create sewage overflow into the ocean. Dispose of hazardous waste in a drop-off site; never pour it into sewers or storm drains.
Use Fewer Chemicals in Garden and Home Products
Chemicals such as pesticides and household cleaners can find their way into water sources and eventually into the sea, moving through the food chain and causing animals to get sick. Purchase organic when possible and limit chemicals in personal use. Sweep your driveway instead of watering it; this will eliminate oil and other residue from flowing into storm drains and straight into the ocean. Reduce toxic household products.
Be Considerate of Marine Life
Marine habitats are yours to enjoy through tidepooling, diving, surfing and other activities. However, don’t touch corals, or remove any animals from their habitats. Never feed wild animals and be aware of laws protecting animals from harassment. Don’t disturb nesting grounds and be aware of your surroundings wherever you walk or swim. Don’t buy products that are exploiting marine life such as corals or seashells.
Skip the Car and Ride a Bike
This one is extra simple. We all know what a pain parking can during the summer months. Skip the headache and enjoy the beach on a bicycle. If you don’t own one there are multiple local businesses that will be more than happy to rent one to you for the day. This will help reduce the amount of emissions put into the air, and as a bonus you can get a little bit of a work out!
We’re pretty sure almost everyone has a place in their heart for the beach, so pass on the word, help us keep the beach clean, our marine life safe and the beach beautiful!
Boulineau’s is your one-stop shopping destination for everything you need for a great beach vacation here in Cherry Grove. Since 1948, we’ve been providing locals and visitors with a unique one-of-a-kind shopping experience coupled with exceptional customer service. We are committed to doing all that we can to preserve our beautiful beach environment. Stop by today and experience the Boulineau’s difference. You’ll see why Boulineau’s is “where everybody goes”!
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed within are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Boulineau’s Inc. Any content provided by our bloggers or authors are of their opinion, and are not intended to malign any religion, ethics group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.)
Sources: Aquaworld.com and care2.com