Who doesn’t want to visit the beach in the summer and walk in the sand and watch the waves?
For all that so many of us love the ocean, it’s an understatement to say that it and our beaches are in trouble, from pollution, acidification from carbon dioxide emissions that threatens the existence of coral reefs and overfishing. People have used the ocean as a garbage dump for centuries — for sewage, chemicals, oil, plastics and, really, who knows what else — and the result is that we have “dead zones” in the Mississippi River Delta and, of course, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Ten things you can do at the beach besides swimming (to help keep the water clean enough to swim in!) and that you can do to help take care of our oceans when you’re back at home.
1. Say no to plastic.
Pack your beach bag with reusable water bottles and forego plastic forks, spoons and other single-use products.
2. Pick up trash.
One of my memorable beach walks was in southern Alabama. A friend’s mother had made a point of bringing a bag and we picked up several discarded plastic bottles, a beach toy or two and other litter as we walked, thereby leaving the sands a bit cleaner. You can do the same or even join a beach clean-up and make sure all that you leave on the beach is your footprints.
3. Stay off the dunes!
I often hear lifeguards, and parents, reminding kids to do so at the beaches on the Jersey Shore. Direct your steps to walkways built to get you down to the beach so you don’t contribute to the erosion of the dunes, which are key to protecting the land against storm waves.
5. Go non-toxic.
The fertilizers and other chemicals many use in their yards (as well as the pesticides used in industrial-scale agriculture) run off into rivers into the ocean. As the EPA advises, minimize — or just don’t use — these. Use compost and be kind to your sewer system by disposing of medications, chemicals and any toxic wastes responsibly (certainly not down the toilet).
Photo from Thinkstock
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