Every summer, I leave the suburbs and travel two hours south to the Jersey Shore. Not Seaside Heights, but the original Jersey Shore — Long Beach Island, NJ. In the mornings, I get up, grab my beach chair and head out through the back door of my house to start my day. As I feel the cool breeze on my skin, I stare out into the bright blue bay. I hop onto my bicycle and ride to the beach, which is only 4 blocks away from my house.
When I get to the beach, I am normally excited to spend the day laying in the sun and cooling off in the ocean. However, more often than not, I find some sort of unnatural object that disrupts the beauty of the beach. How can people just throw their trash away without thinking about the consequences? It makes me wonder how long the ocean will be liveable, and how much longer we will be able to enjoy the nature of our planet.
Making a change is so easy and there are so many things we can do to help preserve our oceans. Check out these simple ideas below!
1. Reduce your use of DISPOSABLE plastics & buy a reusable water bottle
Did you know not all plastics are recyclable? All colored plastics (like beach toy shovels and pails) are not recyclable. Along with that, almost 50 billion plastic bottles are bought each year and 80 percent of those bottles end up in landfills. Reusable water bottles come in all shapes and sizes, colors and patterns. Get one that matches your personality and is good for the environment at the same time. Stay updated with the numbering on plastic containers to see which products are actually recycled, and try to stay away from those that are not.
2. Host a beach clean up
My senior year of highschool, I had to complete my gold-award project for girl scouts. Every good memory that I had revolved around the beach, so I decided to do something about that. I organized a 30 block beach sweep of Ship Bottom, NJ — my beloved summer home. It was so easy to set up and get local businesses to advertise, and so many people came to help clean up the place they cherished as much as I did.
3. Stop using straws
Straws are unique in that they’re both unnecessary and unrecyclable. Any drink can be enjoyed without a straw and after its single use in your cup they’re thrown into landfills or end up in the ocean along the way. Once in the ocean marine life often confuse them with food. Incidences like this have led to the development of some gruesome viral videos. Maybe you too have seen the video of the straw surgically removed from a sea turtle’s nose.
4. Reduce your carbon footprint
People often forget about how easy this one is. Instead of driving, reduce your carbon footprint by walking, biking or even carpooling to work. Turn all the lights off in your house before you leave. These will both reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the air and you’ll get a good workout in for the day.
5. Go green with your cleaning products
Instead of using windex for your counters, mirrors and windows, use a solution of ½ cup of vinegar with ¼ cup of baking soda into a ½ gallon of water. Instead of using pesticides to get rid of those pesky deer, try putting cayenne pepper on and around your plants. It gets rid of the deer and it’s not harmful for the earth! Check out the full list for green cleaning, here.
6. Educate yourself and others
Check out the background of your local legislators and their stance on marine conservation and plastics. If you can’t find any information, reach out and ask some questions yourself. Look into your local Surfrider Foundation chapter and learn how you too can make a difference with people who are passionate about this cause as you are.
The next time you’re enjoying a day at the beach and see some trash along the shore, pick it up, throw it out and know you’re making a difference!