The ocean is more than just a mysterious and beautiful place that sparks the imagination. Scientists say that approximately 50 to 80-percent of the earth's oxygen production comes from our oceans. A variety of marine life requires a clean ocean to breathe and thrive. Today, the world’s oceans are facing unprecedented danger due to various issues, including overfishing, pollution, oil spills, and more. Climate change is also affecting ocean animals and the cleanliness of the sea. Whether you want to save the whales or just do your part to keep the oceans cleaner, there are several things we can all do at home to promote a cleaner, safer oceanic environment. Read on to discover ways to help protect the ocean and save marine life, all from your own home.
Increase your ocean IQ
The first step in protecting the ocean is to learn more about it and increase your “ocean IQ.”
Education: Researching and learning more about the ocean, what makes it thrive, and how it affects the entire planet is the first step toward protecting it. Educating yourself about the world’s oceans and how humans affect them is key to making positive changes. Most people simply don’t know that the small things they do every day can profoundly adversely affect the ocean’s health and well-being. By learning about these things, you can begin to take the steps necessary to ensure a clean ocean for marine life and future generations.
Everyday things we do that are hurting the ocean and marine life: You don’t have to captain a boat to cause harm to the ocean. Simple things like using certain skincare products containing microplastic exfoliants and certain sunscreens can harm delicate coral reefs and ocean animals. Single-use plastic containers, a stray plastic bag, and other products that don’t make it in a landfill or get recycled often end up in the world’s beautiful oceans as well. Fertilizers and pesticides that contain harmful chemicals can leech waterways, eventually finding their way into the sea. Even eating certain types of fish can harm, specifically those harvested due to overfishing.
What we can do
Fortunately, we can do things to be more environmentally conscious of helping reduce our carbon footprint. Here are some ways you can be an Earth hero, even at home.
Mind your carbon footprint and reduce energy consumption: Paying attention to your carbon footprint by lowering general energy consumption is an easy way to help save the ocean. Simply turning off the lights, unplugging appliances, or using energy-efficient alternatives can help reduce widespread pollution and energy demand. Carpool with friends to work, or walk or ride your bike, if possible, to reduce harmful emissions. Of course, water conservation at home is one of the most vital ways to protect the ocean, which we’ll discuss later.
Avoid single-use plastic: From straws and water bottles to plastic bags and food containers, single-use plastics can be detrimental to marine life and contribute to ocean pollution. Avoid using these products when possible and switch to reusable shopping bags, stainless steel coffee mugs, water bottles, and reusable straws to reduce the number of plastics that enter the environment.
Take care of the beach: Development and litter are two common problems threatening coastlines and waterways. Pick up litter whenever you walk on the beach and never leave trash behind. Don’t take things from the beach like shells, driftwood, or starfish, as these items can damage the ecosystem and hurt living things that need them for their survival.
Reduce reuse recycle: Follow the three R’s when practicing daily habits, including reducing the consumption of disposable items, reusing items whenever possible, and recycling. These three steps can play a significant role in helping to preserve the ocean and the environment as a whole.
Make your laundry routine more eco-friendly: Simple changes in your laundry routine can make a significant impact on water conservation and reduce ocean pollution:
- Use eco-friendly, non-toxic detergent that doesn’t require toxic chemicals to get your clothes clean. These “clean” detergents won’t harm waterways and won’t emit dangerous toxins into the environment.
- Use cold water over hot water whenever possible. Not only does this save energy, but it reduces your carbon footprint significantly.
- Air dry your clothes if you can, which will also help save energy and reduce your carbon footprint for a cleaner environment.
- Run your washing machine (and dishwasher) only when it’s full. When you run an appliance that isn’t full, you’re using more water than is necessary to get the job done.
- Save your laundry water and use it to refill your toilet bowel. Since you won’t come in contact with this water, it’s a great way to reduce household water use without causing harm.
Reduce fuel consumption: Overconsumption of fuel contributes to greenhouse gases entering the air, soil, and water. Try to hitch a ride with coworkers instead of driving separately or use public transportation instead of driving. If you have fuel-based heat at home, monitor your thermostat to keep temperatures at a reasonable level that won’t require too much fuel through the winter months. Consider switching to a hybrid or electric car to reduce fuel consumption and improve energy conservation.
Shop locally and sustainably: Shopping locally helps support the people in your community and reduces the need for fuel due to transporting goods to other locations. Look for sustainable products made of eco-friendly materials or seek products that donate some of their proceeds to environmental causes.
Dispose of hazardous waste responsibly: If you need to dispose of things like paint, electronics, batteries, or medication, be sure that you’re doing so in a safe, responsible way. You can contact your local recycling center or local jurisdiction to find out how you can dispose of these things in a safe, environmentally responsible manner.
Avoid fast fashion: Buying fast fashion products can cause significant harm to the ocean. It pollutes local rivers and streams and dries up water resources while also contributing to about 10-percent of humans’ carbon emissions. Shop at thrift stores, yard sales, or buy from clothing resale websites instead of buying fast fashion.
Support organizations working to protect the ocean and marine life: Consider donating or volunteering your help and time to organizations dedicated to helping save the ocean. Many reputable organizations are out there working hard to ensure that the ocean stays safe and clean for animals and the future of humanity. Some examples include Ocean Conservancy, Surfrider Foundation, and Save the Turtles, just to name a few.
Many animals that live in the ocean depend on a clean environment to thrive and live a fulfilling life. Here are some examples of marine life, how we affect them, and why they need our help to protect them.
Turtles: Pollution on the ocean can cause significant harm to sea turtles. Discarded fishing nets, plastics, and general pollution can cause sea turtles to die and their numbers to dwindle. Avoid littering and reduce your use of plastics to help keep the turtles protected.
Whales: Sadly, many things threaten the ocean’s most magnificent mammal, the whale. Entanglement in fishing gear, whaling, ship strikes, oil and gas development, and habitat destruction can cause serious harm to whale populations across the globe. Donating to organizations committed to protecting these animals is one of the best ways you can help to keep their numbers up and protect them from harm.
Dolphins: Many of the same things that threaten whales can also threaten the dolphins in our oceans. Never feed a dolphin if you see one, and educate yourself and others about how humans can help, not harm these beautiful marine animals.
Fish: Pollution and overfishing are two of the biggest threats to a wide variety of fish species. The creation of dams, runoff from chemicals and pollutants, and the introduction of invasive species into lakes, oceans, and streams can also pose a threat. Always purchase fish from sustainable companies and fisheries and avoid using fertilizer or pesticides that can cause dangerous runoff to enter the waterways near your home.
Penguins: Climate change, pollution, illegal egg harvesting, and even overfishing can threaten these adorable waddling marine birds. Reducing dependence on oil can help prevent harmful oil spills that can kill penguins, fish, and other birds. If you live in an area near penguins, be sure to spay or neuter your pets and keep a close eye on them to prevent penguins from becoming a victim of non-native predators.
As you can see, the world’s oceans are under constant threat due to many human activities. Thankfully, there are some things you can do at home to help protect the oceans and marine life. By reducing your carbon footprint, recycling and avoiding single-use plastics, and educating yourself and others, you can become a proactive earth hero who helps save the ocean.