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Covering more than 70 per cent of Earth’s surface and supplying more than half the oxygen we breathe, the deep blue is vital to human life. It’s a source of food, jobs and leisure activities, and home to some 700,000 species (that we know of). As “climate change” becomes “climate crisis”, these are a few things you can do to help protect our oceans.
1. Buy sustainable seafood
Unsustainable fishing practices are destroying habitats and endangering many different species in our oceans. While eating less seafood can help – don’t worry, you can get some omega 3s from plants – where you do buy fish, look out for labels that prove it was sourced sustainably. The MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) “ecolabel” is a good indicator as are terms such as “line-caught” or “sustainably harvested. In restaurants, make a habit of asking whether the fish served is ethically sourced.
Even small lifestyle changes can have a positive impact on the environment. Intensive research has proved that the actions you take every day can affect water levels, temperatures and the ocean’s pH. Be mindful of switching off lights, reach for a jumper instead of the heating, recycle, walk where possible or take public transport. Those willing and able to make bigger lifestyle changes can opt for renewable energy sources, eat less red meat or try growing food – you may be surprised what can be cultivated on a patio or terrace.
3. Use less plastic
Every year up to 12 million metric tons of plastic ends up in our oceans, with debris destroying habitats and harming sea creatures. Microplastics from shopping bags, clothing and kitchen and bathroom products – even toothpaste – are among the most damaging to marine life. Ditch disposables and purchase reusable bags, water bottles, tupperware and coffee cups. Read the ingredients of cosmetic products before buying them and when you do use plastic, remember to recycle.
4. Do a beach clean
Everyone loves a day at the beach, but whether you’re sunbathing, going on a walk or having a picnic, please clean up after yourself. The #2MinuteBeachClean movement encourages us to take a little time to pick up litter on the beachfront (or indeed any public area). Other community projects and events include Project AWARE’s Dive Against Debris, which organises collaborative beach cleans and even dives to reduce pollution and litter.
5. Read cosmetic labels
As well as many cosmetic products being sold in plastic packaging and containing plastic within them, many items and products also contain other ingredients that have either exploited marine wildlife or are harmful to oceans. In particular the microparticles found in sun cream can have damaging effects on coral and other sea fauna. Before you purchase, research cosmetic items to ensure they’re ocean friendly, and avoid buying any accessories made from marine life, such as coral jewellery, shark teeth or tortoiseshell hair accessories.
6. Support ocean conservation organisations
Many organisations work tirelessly to protect our oceans. Hosting peaceful protests, beach cleans and regular volunteer meetings, these institutions are aiming to create a better future for ours oceans and the wildlife living within them. Oceana, the largest international organisation focussed on ocean conservation, has more than 550,000 members from 200 countries across the globe. Check out its website to join the community and fight for the future of ocean conservation.
7. Swim, sail and snorkel responsibly
Whether you’re just going for a quick snorkel to see the colourful fish, or living the high life as you sail round coasts on a yacht, be sure to read up on the most sustainable options available. Keep your distance from any sea creatures, make sure you don’t throw anything overboard, and learn about the most eco-friendly options to enjoy sea activities responsibly.
8. Get involved politically
While it is immensely important to learn about the small changes you can make to positively impact the environment, there is unfortunately a limit on how much one person can do. Educate yourself on the environmental stance and policies of your local politicians so that you can vote responsibly or, better yet, contact them to highlight specific areas of concern.
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