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Imagine laying on the beach with your toes in the sand, sun and breeze warm on your face. Tranquil trips like these rely upon our ability to protect the beach, and the ecosystem it’s a part of.
In conserving our beaches, we’re also protecting our oceans, and thus our planet. Although you likely don’t have the resources to make massive impacts on protecting these beach environments, there are easy daily routines you can do to help these beautiful marine ecosystems thrive.
Here are 12 easy ways you can get involved to protect our shores:
Take Action To Protect The Beach
1. Pick Up Your Trash
The problem: Perhaps there’s no easier task, picking up trash is something we should always be practicing- not just at the beach. It prevents waste from blowing into the ocean, storm drains, and tangling or trapping wildlife.
The solution: Before leaving the beach, check your are for any debris you may have left behind, or that others had forgotten. Protecting the beach means cleaning up after ourselves and others.
2. No More Plastic
The problem: Not only do plastic water bottles stick around forever in landfills, they also end up on beaches, and in oceans and other marine habitats often harming birds, turtles, whales and other marine animals.
The Solution: By choosing reusable containers and supporting a plastic-free (or less plastic) lifestyle, you’re generating less waste. You’re also using your dollar to vote for a more sustainable future, and demanding that companies use more eco-friendly resources.
3. Don’t Drive on the Beach
The problem: Damaged nests and eggs are just a start of destruction caused by vehicles. Natural habitats can actually be destroyed by compacting the sand. Piping plovers and oystercatchers are just some of the species affected by vehicles driving on the beach, and it’s solution it simple.
The solution: When visiting the beach, opt to walk- or bike! Driving a motor vehicle on the sand can potentially cause harm to marine wildlife. Choose a safer form of transportation!
4. Join a Cleanup Crew
The problem: There’s no shortage of trash that needs picking up on the beach, in the ocean and in other marine habitats.
The solution: If you live near the beach, or would like to help out while vacationing, tag along for a local clean up day! Team up with an organization, or plan it yourself. Beach clean up days are a great way to preserve the beach and to show the local community that you support a sustainable future.
Would you like to go one step further? As a community, organization or group you can collectively adopt a section of the beach where you and other committed beach-goers regularly maintain and clean up.
5. Don’t Feed the Animals!
The problem: If you bring food to the beach, make sure it’s only food for you. Food you bring with can cause harm disrupting the natural diets of birds, fish and other marine animals, and should be avoided at all costs.
The solution: Make sure all food stays in sealed containers and is only open while you’re using it to prevent pests from sneaking a bite.
Feed yourself, don’t feed the animals.
6. Don’t Smoke
The problem: Smoking cigarettes not only causes harm to the body of the user, but also the environment. From the crop to the pack, tobacco requires an intensive use of resources and releases harmful chemicals into the air, soil and waterways.
The harm from cigarettes affects habitats including our beaches, too. Lingering for time to come, tobacco litter is some of the biggest components of litter worldwide today.
The solution: Don’t smoke!
7. Be an Ocean-Friendly Dog Parent
The problem: If your best four-legged friend joins you to the beach, clean up after them. Everyone knows the fastest way to ruin a beach trip is by stepping in dog poop. Even if your dog relieves herself off the beaten trail, it’s important to pick it up and dispose of it properly. Why?
America alone produces some 10.6 million tons of dog poop every year from their 83 million pet dogs. This is obviously a lot of waste! The trouble is that this feces is foreign to most natural habitats and can introduce bacteria, parasites and more to native wildlife.
Solution: Simple fix here, clean up after your dog!
8. Change Your Packaging
The problem: Human generated trash is bad for wildlife, and the environment.
Solution: Recycling disposable packaging is good, but we can do better.
Choose more sustainable packaging materials, or when possible, no packaging at all.
Try reusable glass, metal, biodegradable materials and other eco-friendly options.
Stat bringing reusable bags with you to the stores, and ask for no plastic bags (and no straws!).
The least amount of waste we create as a community, the better we protect our beaches...and our planet.
9. Contact Your Local Representatives & Use Your Vote
The problem: Your representative and lawmakers may not know how important issues facing our ocean’s fate are. You can use your voice to tell them. It’s up to constituents like you to make these decision-makers aware of the crisis facing marine life and our oceans.
The solution: Use your voice and your vote to stress the importance of protecting our oceans, beaches and marine habitats. Take action today. Contact your government representatives and lawmakers, and vote for what you believe in.
10. Take Eco-Adventure Trips
What is Eco-Adventure Tourism?: Eco-Adventure Tourism is responsible travel to natural areas which helps conserve the environment or sustains the well-being of local people.
How to get involved:
Choose to make travel arrangements with eco-friendly resorts, or to go backpacking/camping.
Share the mission with other eco-adventure tourists to leave the environment, or its inhabitants, better than when you arrived.
Get involved with local conservation efforts, or non-profit organizations, providing resources to native communities or habitats.
Do your research when supporting or volunteering with any organization to make sure it’s reputable, and that its mission aligns with yours
11. Spread the Word
Why get involved?: Protecting our beaches means using our voices to educate others to do the same. Independently we can only do so much, but as a collective we can make a huge impact!
How to get involved:
Tell everyone you know about the importance of protecting our oceans and beaches.
Encourage others to get involved in the cause, too!
Spread the word about petitions, fundraisers and facts.
Join the conversation online (on social media).
Be a positive force supporting a positive movement.
12. Be Conscious of Your Actions at Home
Why be a conscious consumer?: Being a responsible beach user means practicing eco-friendly habits on and off of the sand. From reducing your use of fertilizer to buying only products produced by sustainable companies, bagging your yard clippings and using native plants in your garden- there are plenty of ways to be responsible at home!
How to be conscious at home:
Choose reef-safe sunscreen
Buy only eco-friendly products
Support companies with sustainable practices
Support organizations protecting the ocean and beaches
Make ocean-friendly diet choices
Influence change locally
Make responsible purchases
Reduce your carbon footprint
Clean up after your pets
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Protect the beach, and protect the ocean, with these simple tips. From making conscious decisions at home, to beach vacation tips, travel suggestions and more, protecting our beaches is easier than ever.
Support companies and organizations who are helping to protect our oceans and beaches, and do your part to protect them too! Plus, you never know who you’ll meet, or what you’ll learn, along the way.
What’s possibly the simplest way to help share the message about protecting our beaches? Share this article with your friends, family and loved ones!
Megan Jones is the lead author of Seaside Planet. She is an avid surfer, scuba diver, and travel enthusiast who takes any opportunity she can to spend time in the ocean. You can learn more about Meg and the rest of the editorial team here.