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What Can You Do – Home and Away

The world’s oceans and seas are facing numerous challenges; every day, we hear about escalating issues, ranging from marine pollution and overfishing to the impact of mass tourism on marine ecosystems. While the problem may seem vast, each of us possesses the ability to make small changes in our day-to-day lives. When combined, these individual efforts can have a significant impact on the health of our seas and reduce our contribution to climate change.

The list below provides simple changes that you can incorporate into your daily routine, allowing you to play a part in promoting a healthy marine environment.

at Home:

Live Sustainably, reduce your carbon footprint

Strive to reduce your impact on climate change through minor adjustments in your lifestyle. Consider leaving your car at home and opting for alternative transportation whenever feasible. Be mindful of your energy and natural resource consumption both at home and work—this could involve switching to fluorescent light bulbs, choosing locally sourced produce, and even embracing practices like installing solar panels, using low-flow water taps, cultivating your own vegetables, and more!

Careful Consumerism

What you consume has a direct impact on the health of the world’s oceans. Therefore, being a conscientious consumer can significantly contribute to positive change. By simply opting for ocean-friendly seafood, we can play a role in safeguarding the well-being of the world’s oceans. The depletion of global fish populations is accelerating due to high demand, habitat loss, and unsustainable fishing practices. If this trend continues, it is estimated that within 20-30 years, all viable fish stocks could collapse. When purchasing seafood, whether at home or dining out, you can help alleviate the pressure on exploited species by selecting seafood that is both healthy and sustainable. Making sustainable seafood choices is straightforward; consult sustainable seafood guides or search for guides specific to your country or region.

Be an advocate for healthy oceans and seas

Learn what you can do, and then share that knowledge with others! The more you educate yourself about the challenges our oceans face, the more you’ll understand its significance and the more inclined you’ll be to care about it. By acquiring this knowledge, you can inspire change by educating and motivating others. Simply by reading this page and passing on the information to others, you are contributing to the collective effort to influence the state of the ocean positively.

Use fewer plastic products

Currently, every single ocean and sea in the world contains plastic debris; this debris contributes to habitat degradation, and either directly or indirectly kill thousands of marine animals each year. Plastics are now so common in the ocean that vast “garbage islands” exist in the world’s oceans, and every ocean/sea on the planet contains microplastics. Even if you don’t litter, parts of your plastic waste will end up in the ocean, so the best way to limit your impact is to use less plastic. Carry a reusable water bottle and avoid plastic bags (2 of the most common causes of plastic waste), recycle where possible. Avoid un-necessary plastic use (ie: food wrap, excessive packaging, etc)… it’s quite simple to reduce plastic consumption. All you need to do is start!

Keep toxins out of your home

Many of our cosmetics and household products contain toxic chemicals, and even just a tiny amount from each household contributes to what is a huge impact on ocean health.  Our soaps, shampoos, conditioner, laundry powders/liquids and household cleaners often contain compounds that can lead to harmful algae blooms – killing corals and choking waterways.  Chlorine bleach is highly toxic to fish and motor oil contains heavy metals that can end up in the fish we eat.  NEVER pour bleach, motor oil or other chemicals down the drain, or into sewers; check with your local council regarding disposal of chemicals.  AVOID USING and use of non-biodegradable shampoos, conditioners, laundry and dishwashing.

Beach clean up

Many coastal towns participate in beach cleanups. Check your local area for regular beach cleanups and join in, or in areas that don’t have beach clean up, organise yourself – you’ll be surprised how many others will join in.  And when recreating on beaches, always clean up after yourself – never leave any rubbish behind, never remove wildlife/coral, or interfere with any marine life.

While Travelling or Away:

Whether it be divers and snorkelers, surfers, or those that simply enjoy the view… every year, millions of people across the world flock to the coastlines to recreate on beaches, in the waves and under the water.  These millions of people have a significant impact on the health of the oceans and seas they recreate in.  From mass tourism, through to remote location tourism – irresponsible travel can cause stress and damage to a marine environment.

Check your sunscreen and cosmetic products

Millions of people in the water each year, means millions of people covered in sunscreen.  But unfortunately one of the main ingredients in sunblock (oxybenzone) inhibits the growth of baby corals, and kills coral polyps. Across the world coral reefs are increasingly showing damage caused by the presence of sunblock in the water.  Always travel with reef safe and biodegradable suncream – whilst not widespread in retail shops, it is relatively easy to find.

Key ingredients to avoid in sunscreen:
 benzophenone/oxybenzone, paraben, cinnamate and camphor derivatives.  Also be mindful of ingredients in shampoo, conditioner, soap etc – ensure anything you are travelling with is biodegradable and reef safe.

Take only photos, leave only footprints

Do not take anything from the marine environment; never collect shells, corals, rocks, or dead or alive animals.  This collecting has a direct impact upon a marine environment, particularly when millions of people across the world participate in collecting.
Take photos only… but carefully, do not touch or disturb the marine life for the sake of a photo, and limit flash photography/bright lights.

Choose your operator carefully

When choosing your accommodation, tour company or dive/snorkel/vessel operator, do some research into their environmental practice.  From commitment to conservation and sustainability, to their dive guides attentiveness and behaviour, to their food sources and waste management.  Try as best you can to choose an operator that is both aware of their environmental responsibility and operates accordingly.

Share your observations

Should you see any behaviours that are not appropriate from an environmental perspective, share these concerns with the operator, local council, or any other relevant stakeholders.  Often this can be the instigator for behaviour change or better management and regulation.

Take your batteries and plastic waste home

Batteries are wonderful when in use but incredibly toxic to an environment if not disposed of correctly.
If you are in a location that does not have adequate waste management, take old batteries and plastic with you for disposal when you return to a location with suitable means means to dispose of or recycle these items.

Donations to communities: choose wisely

When making donations or purchases in local communities, ensure you are donating to what is ultimately a sustainable and environmentally friendly practice. In some instances, well intentioned donations can lead to the enabling of inappropriate or unsuitable practice.