World Oceans Day is once again upon us. Since 2002 this day has been marked by volunteers, scientists, campaigners and the like promoting the importance of safeguarding our oceanic environments from harmful threats like overfishing, climate change and pollution. Now, it could be because of my own personal increased engagement and research into this issue, but never before have I known a more heavily publicised World Oceans Day than this one.
If you have no clue what I’m rambling on about, then maybe you’ve been living under a rock (or in a rockpool). From Sky’s Ocean Rescue campaign to the Marine Conservation Society’s July Plastic Challenge, and the endless array of celebrities giving their name to the campaign to stop plastic pollution, it’s hard to not possess even a basic idea of the message behind this years campaign.
Plastic is so convenient. In our modern, hectic lives, it requires minimal effort to reach for something that makes our lives a little easier. Us humans after all are creatures of habit. But for the good of our humble planet earth we must change.
What’s horrifying to process is that 50% of the plastic we produce is only used once – yes, that does include those plastic bags you put your fruit and veg in at the supermarket.
We must stop using plastic – especially, single-use plastics. Buying a new water bottle everyday, reaching for a new straw with each new drink and grabbing single-use utensils are all very convenient things – but they’re not sustainable.
It’s estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. Yikes.
Now this isn’t hard to believe when you consider that roughly eight million metric tonnes of plastic enters the ocean on an annual basis.
We depend on the oceans for so much more than the resources we extract from them – in the words of Dr. Sylvia Earle, “no blue, no green”.
They are the globe’s largest carbon sink, absorbing harmful carbon dioxide and reducing the impact of climate change within our atmosphere – to the detriment of much marine life, however.
They are also estimated to produce more than 50% of the oxygen we breathe, and millions depend on them as a food resource – roughly 1 billion people in the developing world rely on fish as their main source of protein, for example.
Oceanic ecosystems provide a variety of ecosystem services, from regulating services like climate control to cultural services via recreation and holding spiritual significance.
The ‘Blue Economy’ is a rapidly increasing industry, with many local and national economies depending upon oceanic resources, and thus the health of our oceans.
Our oceans vitally need our help. Every one of us in our everyday lives can make a difference and help to mitigate the impacts of the horrifying threats that these ecosystems face.
Below you can find 5 of my recommendations, which you can easily implement into your everyday life.
We are all interconnected and our actions, however small they may feel, when combined with similar actions by millions across the globe, produce a profound difference.
What You Can Do To Save The Oceans
1. Support organisations that are working to protect the oceans
There are so many incredible organisations that are doing invaluable work to safeguard our oceans and to educate local communities on their importance. Whether you decide to volunteer with them on a regular basis (even just once), or if you commit to making a monthly donation, every little helps.
Even sharing their content on social media to promote awareness of their work is a significant contribution.
2. Eat sustainable seafood
This couldn’t be simpler! Look for the blue mark of the Marine Stewardship Council whilst you’re buying seafood. This mark indicates that the fish products your purchasing come from independently verified sustainable stocks!
Another great tip is to check out the Marine Conservation Society’s Good Fish Guide. You can use this when buying fish products to determine whether their stocks (in general) are anything from highly sustainable to unsustainable via a traffic light coding system.
If you want to go one step further, then eating fish species that are lower down the food chain is also a great option. Fish like sardines and anchovies, and shellfish like clams and oysters, are more abundant and reproduce faster, consuming organisms lower down the food chain themselves (like phytoplankton and zooplankton), therefore they’re more sustainable for us to enjoy.
3. Cut your greenhouse gas emissions
Calculate your carbon footprint and see where you can make changes in your daily life. Could you get the bus rather than taking your car to work? Or even better, could you cycle or walk instead? Do you remember to switch your lights off when you’re no longer in a room? Have you made the transition to energy efficient lightbulbs and appliances?
All of these changes and more can make a difference to our oceans by reducing the amount of carbon emissions and greenhouse gases we produce. Climate change is a large global threat to our oceans, causing ocean acidification and sea-surface temperature rise which threatens a magnitude of marine species – including beautiful and fragile coral reef ecosystems.
4. Reduce your plastic waste
Switching to a reusable water bottle, saying no to single-use straws and waving goodbye to those pesky plastic bags at the supermarket couldn’t be easier now.
There exists an abundance of plastic-free alternatives online, from sleek Chilly’s water bottles to cotton bags from your favourite NGO (mine is here). There truly is no excuse to not cut down your plastic waste through these methods. Plus, it’ll save you a lot of 5ps every time you visit the supermarket!
The tricky bit comes with food shopping – EVERYTHING IS WRAPPED IN PLASTIC. But fear not, you can make changes by purchasing fruit and vegetables in paper bags, bringing your own reusable cotton bags for meat and fish counter purchases and there are even some stores where you can fill your own glass jars up with legumes, grains and rice. Sadly, this isn’t available nationwide yet.
5. Volunteer on beach cleans
Finally, volunteering at a local beach clean or even participating in your own #2minutebeachclean is such a fantastic way to help your local community, plus you can meet some pretty inspiring people along the way. Check out the Marine Conservation Society’s website here for your nearest beach clean.
The list above is just a few ways you can get started. There are so many great ways you can change your lifestyle to become more eco-friendly, not only helping oceans, but also the planet as a whole.