7 Ways We Can Help Protect the Oceans
Guest post by: Maija Elizabeth, creator of Sustainability Maija
I started getting into ocean conservation when I was 14 and over the past year I have created social media platforms to talk about sustainable living, ocean conservation, and spread awareness for plastic pollution called Sustainably Maija. You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok as @sustainablymaija!
Today I wanted to talk to you guys about seven things we can all try to do to help better our oceans even if you don’t live near a beach. Just a quick reminder that smallest changes can lead to the biggest differences.
- Pick up litter!
Picking up trash is easily one of my favorite ways to help the ocean. Cleaning up trash in our communities is how we can stop trash from making it out to the ocean that would harm fish and the health of the water. 80% of ocean plastics come from land-based sources, like our neighborhoods. When it rains trash runs off into drains and into waterways that will eventually make it to sea. I like to keep a bag in my car to hold the trash that I pick up in parking lots, on walks, etc. This is free and the most fulfilling way (in my opinion) that we can do to help the environment. It gets you out of the house and moving in a great way! You can go right outside of your house or you can see if there’s trash clean ups being hosted in your area. It’s a fantastic way to meet new people and get new experiences.
- Cut out fish!
Obviously this one isn’t for everyone, but if you have the ability to cut fish from your diet, I highly recommend doing so! If you fish for yourself or buy directly from someone who does, then that’s a different story. I’m talking about fish that are at the grocery store from large fisheries! Those fishing companies use huge nets that skim along the ocean destroying coral reefs and even trapping other marine life that shouldn’t be caught. Sea turtles, sharks, dolphins, etc. that are caught in bycatch usually die when they get stuck in the nets. Fishing companies are collecting so many fish that if they all keep going at this rate there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050. Fish are essential to the health of our oceans and reducing your fish intake will make a difference! Just do what you can, of course.
- Use mineral based sunscreens!
Chemical based sunscreens have been linked to health issues and coral reef bleaching. Using mineral based sunscreens is better for our health and the ocean’s. Chemical based sunscreens contain harmful ingredients that have been linked to causing major health issues. Some places like Thailand, Key West, Florida, and Hawaii have actually banned chemical sunscreens because of the negative impacts it’s having. Chemicals to avoid in sunscreen are the following:
The best mineral sunscreens to get are the ones with the active ingredients: non-nano zinc oxide and non-nano titanium oxide. I made the switch to mineral based sunscreens long before I knew what it was doing to the ocean because of what it was doing to my skin. As someone with sensitive skin, chemical based sunscreens were making my skin break out and causing rashes. People can be hesitant when looking to buy mineral based sunscreens because of the white cast. Mineral based sunscreens sit on top of the skin to protect, while chemical sunscreen sinks in. The chemicals help make the sunscreen invisible and since it’s invisible it’s less likely to protect your skin.
- Sign petitions and write to politicians!
Signing petitions for any issue can be very powerful! In fact, I found them so powerful that I wanted to start one of my own. I started a petition to cancel styrofoam after years of finding broken styrofoam on beaches and in my community. Adding your name to a petition just gets us one step closer to making positive changes for the planet. I’ve signed petitions for protecting marine life, plastic reduction, and so much more! Something I have also done is write to members of Congress and the White House. I wrote to my representatives when the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act was just introduced. It felt good to be a part of something like that!
- Support ocean conservation organizations/companies!
There are so many amazing organizations and companies that are helping the oceans! I’m going to name just a few right now. One of my favorites is 4Ocean (@4Ocean). They collect trash in locations all over the world and recently just surpassed 20 million pounds of trash removed! An organization that I’ve found recently is Project Hiu (@projecthiu). They help shark fishermen in Indonesia find a better life working in tourism. Shark fishing has a very negative impact on our oceans and that’s why they want to stop it. It’s easy to say that shark fishing is bad, but what Project Hiu is helping people understand is that in order to stop shark fishing, we need to find those people other jobs to be able to provide for their families and have a roof over their heads. The last one I’m going to name is my friend Caulin’s (@trashcaulin) organization! He started Down 2 Earth (@down2earth) to help clean up trash in communities and to change what it means to be an influencer. He’s done a fantastic job so far and I can’t wait to see where he goes with it! I could go on and on about my favorite companies and organizations honestly, but those are just a few to get you started.
- Get a rain barrel!
I love my rain barrel! Harvesting rainwater isn’t allowed in some states, so I recommend doing a little bit of research to find out first. Collecting rain can help reduce erosion. I’ve used my rain barrel to collect rain for my indoor and outdoor plants. I’ve realized that my plants thrive on using the water from the rain barrel, especially my indoor ones because it’s more pure than my tap water. You can get a rain barrel from a store or you can use something that you already have like a storage container, buckets, or jars. If you do end up making one yourself, make sure to put something on top or don’t keep the water sitting there for too long that way there won’t be a mosquito problem. Collecting rainwater can help prevent harmful contaminants from getting into our water!
- Follow environmental creators!
Getting involved in climate activism can get pretty overwhelming, but something that really helps me is following people on social media that are making positive change for our planet! I’m going to name some of my favorite accounts that you should consider following to help get you started and motivated:
-@maxconservation on TikTok & Instagram
-@hellococoshin on TikTok & Instagram
-@thesimpleenvironmentalist on TikTok, Instagram, & YouTube
-@relauren on TikTok & Instagram
-@traashboyy on TikTok & Instagram
-@re.buscando on TikTok & Instagram
-@impactforgood_ on TikTok and Instagram
Huge thank you to Happy Eco News for inviting me to write this post for you today. Feel free to follow me for tips on sustainable living and cleaning up trash! Of course, follow Happy Eco News on Instagram to stay up to date on all the awesome stories to come. Always remember that the smallest changes can lead to the biggest differences!
Thank you for your excellent article on ways to help protect our oceans. My wife and I pick up trash on the beach, we sign petitions and write to politicians (sometimes!), and she uses mineral based sunscreens. However, we can do a lot better and your article has given us the guidance that we needed to make an even bigger difference.
Thank you so much for the information and I wish you good luck and great success spreading the word on your various social media platforms.
Thank you for your note and for doing what you do. Trash on the beach (or anywhere) is such a pervasive issue. I personally carry a small bag with me whenever I am walking in nature and do what I can to remove the stuff I see – especially plastic. I understand that trash attracts more trash – people see trash on the ground and think it’s OK to drop a wrapper or whatever and add to it – so it’s vital we clean up as much as we can. So thank you for taking the time to write, for continuing to do the right thing, and for sharing the Happy Eco News.