Written by Rae Steinbach
With oceans covering most of the earth’s surface, they are obviously important for the health of the entire planet. As vital as healthy oceans are, humans are doing so much damage to these ecosystems. From plastic pollution and global warming to overfishing, the world’s oceans are at risk.
Whether you are interested in saving wildlife or just want to have a nice planet for you and your children to live on, you should be concerned about the health of the oceans. While it might not be a goal we can reach overnight, there is a lot you can do to help protect the oceans. Read on to learn about six simple steps any person can take to help save the oceans.
Stop using single-use plastics
It is estimated that about eight million metric tons (Mt) of plastic pollution ends up in the oceans every year. This pollution not only causes the death of sea creatures, but it also has significant effects on the chemistry of the ocean. The increasing acidification of oceans affects their ability to sequester carbon from the atmosphere, it contributes to the destruction of coral reefs and it also inhibits the ability of oceans to produce oxygen.
If this pollution is to be reduced, consumers need to cut down on single-use plastics. This means finding alternatives for things like plastic shopping bags, straws and water bottles. There are available alternatives for most single-use plastics, so it is a goal most people should be able to achieve.
Spend time cleaning beaches
Most individuals can switch to single-use plastics, but many are not aware of the issue or they just don’t care enough. With beach litter being one of the major contributors to plastic pollution in the ocean, it is something that should get attention from those who are interested in wildlife conservation and protecting the planet.
Participating in a beach cleanup program can be a great way to help reduce plastic pollution. Another option is for people to organize beach cleanup outings with their friends. After a day at the beach, beyond cleaning up your own trash, you could spend some time cleaning any litter left behind by others.
Eat sustainable seafood
While fishing itself is not bad for the ocean, it needs to be done sustainably. Overfishing not only upsets the balance of the ocean, but it reduces fish stocks that are a vital source of food for millions of people around the world.
Make sustainable seafood choices to prevent the depletion of fish stocks. One way you can do this is to look for the label of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) when you shop for seafood. Seafood Watch is also a good resource for people looking to find sustainable seafood choices.
Reduce your carbon footprint
As the oceans absorb more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, they become more acidic. This is bad for the animals that live in the ocean and the ecosystem as a whole.
Every person can take steps to reduce his or her carbon footprint. Steps to consider include driving less, turning off lights when not in a room, using appliances that are more efficient, and setting the thermostat a few degrees higher in the summer and a few degrees lower during winter.
Taking personal action is good, but it will not do enough to save the oceans without action from the world’s governments. This means people should vote and take political action with the aim of promoting policies that will protect the oceans.
People should learn about policies that can have a positive impact on saving the oceans. Research the politicians who support those policies and vote to protect the oceans. Writing letters and participating in awareness campaigns can offer other options for those looking to influence the politics of protecting the oceans.
Whether it is save the oceans, save the polar bears or any other cause, there are decisions consumers can make to lend support with their shopping habits. One thing to avoid is products that exploit ocean animals. This would include things like animal jewelry made from sea turtle shells or cosmetics with shark squalene.
Consumers could also vote with their wallets by shopping with brands that are working to save the oceans. Whether the business model directly contributes to saving the oceans or they donate to nonprofits that protect the ocean, this can be a way to encourage ocean-friendly practices.
Wildlife conservation and protecting the oceans are more than just nice ideas – humans depend on the oceans and the creatures that live there. With these simple tips, any person can start doing their part to protect the oceans.
Rae Steinbach is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined International Relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to NYC to pursue her career and continue curating quality content. Rae is passionate about travel, food, and writing (of course).