Right now, our Oceans need all the help they can get.
Oceans are swimming in plastic. It reaches every single part of our world, from the depths of the Mariana Trench to the remote Cocos and Galapagos islands. We have all heard about the Great Garbage Patch!
Humans and all marine life are eating and ingesting plastic. Plastic becomes wrapped around animal’s mouths so they suffocate. Plastic they eat becomes stuck in their stomach and they choke. Huge whales are washing up on our shores from Indonesia to Italy, their guts filled with plastic.
Cigarette butts litter our oceans even more than plastic. Some people believe the butt will biodegrade. It doesn’t.
46% of the plastic in our ocean comes from fishing nets, and our oceans are over fished to brink of extinction. Huge trawlers scrape the ocean bed killing coral and everything in its path.
Bycatch is killing dolphins, turtles, whales, sharks and birds. As fisherman target a specific fish, these marine species are unintentionally caught in their nets, but because they are useless to the fishing industry, they are discarded. Sometimes they are dead, sometimes they are half-dead. Either way, they died so you can eat fish.
Sir David Attenborough pleaded with us all on "The Blue Planet" to do something before it’s too late.
How can you make a difference on this World Oceans Day? Feet Do Travel have listed easy, practical solutions to help you make a start TODAY. The time for change is NOW.
Let me start by reiterating something mentioned in my first World Ocean’s Day article; why our oceans are so important to the existence of humans.
Covering 72% of the earth, our oceans produce more than 70% of the oxygen we breath, and absorb the most carbon from our atmosphere. Trees produce 28% of our oxygen. Both are extremely valuable to us, yet we are destroying them at an alarming rate. Sometimes I wonder if humans have a death wish.
It’s so easy to make a difference, and if you haven’t already made a start, World Oceans day on 8 June is the perfect day to begin.
Feet Do Travel can help you with plenty of suggestions and alternatives to try. We are both ocean warriors, and care passionately about protecting it.
Thank you to Gili Shark Conservation for providing the infographics which have been used in this post.
As one person, no you cannot change the world. But the ripple effect you create can.
Each and every person who makes a small change, will make a huge difference.
How to reduce your plastic usage
Refuse plastic bags, plastic straws, single use cutlery and always carry your own. All these items are lightweight, small and cheap. You can buy them from our Travel Shop.
Reduce the amount of plastic you buy in your life. Whether this be at a supermarket or for your everyday items such as soap and shampoo. Instead of buying a mayonnaise refill plastic pouch, buy a mayonnaise glass jar which you can reuse. Check out some of the following suggested alternatives. I haven't listed them all but this will give you some idea to help you start thinking of what you can do.
Butter in plastic tub Butter in a wrapper – store in a butter dish or just in the wrapper
Sponge Loofah or dish cloths
Shower gel Soap bar
Cling film Beeswax or Soy wraps, or use Tupperware containers
Milk cartons Get a milkman to deliver – old school!
Shampoo and conditioner Shampoo and conditioner bars
Toothbrush Bamboo toothbrush
Deodorant Deodorant bar or paste in a tin/cardboard tube
Moisturiser Moisturiser bar or buy moisturiser lotion in a tin or glass jar
Toothpaste Buy one in a tin, or switch to tooth powder or toothy tabs in a jar
Disposable razors Bamboo or aluminium safety razors
Cotton earbuds Bamboo earbuds
Sanitary pads Moon Cup
Disposable nappy/diapers Reusable cloth nappy/diapers or reusable nappy inserts
Make up remover pads Reusable cloth pads
Disposable lighter Aluminium refillable lighter
If you have plastic in your life, reuse it until it wears out. Don’t replace perfectly good plastic just to be plastic-free, this is the last thing you should do.
Take plastic bags with you when grocery shopping, and always keep some in your car.
Instead of covering food in cling film or tin foil, place left over food in Tupperware containers. You can also take the tupperware grocery shopping, some supermarkets allow you to refill.
Use old ice cream tubs as storage containers or for marinating.
If you purchased plastic reusable cutlery, plastic travel pots or anything plastic – keep on using it! Remember – the aim is to reduce plastic being sent to landfill, not just reducing the amount you buy.
Wherever possible, refill.
Zero Waste and refill shops are popping up all the time. Search online to find one near you. They encourage you to take your empty containers to be refilled with every day items. Washing up liquid, shower gel, vegetable oil (not Palm Oil!), olive oil, coconut oil, laundry detergent, granola, herbs, spices, grains, seeds, nuts, loose tea, sauces, soups, pasta, flour, dried fruits … the list goes on.
There is a movement with some supermarket giants allowing consumers to take their own packaging for meat or fish – even if yours isn’t one of them, do it anyway.
Support local, and shop at fruit and veg markets or local farms. If there is someone who keeps chickens, ask if they sell eggs. The items are usually tastier, and not only will you be giving money to a small business, you will also be using existing containers.
Don’t buy water in plastic bottles. If you haven’t already done so, purchase a refillable aluminium bottle and carry it with you everywhere. We have options in our Travel Shop.
Take-away coffee/tea – invest in a reusable cup and ask your favourite coffee shop to fill it up. Take it with you on holiday/vacation, and ask them to refill at the airport and during the flight. Our Travel Shop has suggestions.
This is a difficult one, because we are unable to recycle plastic as quickly as it is produced. An interesting fact to note; most items are recycled into something which cannot be recycled again, meaning recycling is temporary. But you still have to try.
Wherever there is a recycling bin option – use it.
Upcycling is the creative reuse of an item. For example, make light fittings out of wine bottles, coasters from bottle caps, planters from old car tyres, tables and chairs out of plastic bottles (Ecobricks), a grocery bag out of an old t-shirt, ceramic pots as vases, old mayonnaise/gravy/sauce jars as storage jars (which can also be used to take to a refill store) … the only limitation is your imagination!
Pinterest is full of amazing ideas, or follow Gili Eco Trust on Facebook, they are extremely inspirational and have taught me so much.
For everything else, there is an Ecobrick.
Sometimes there is no escaping plastic, but with a little thought, you can still make a difference.
After refusing plastic, and reducing the amount of plastic we buy, when there is no other option but to purchase an item wrapped in plastic, then you can Ecobrick.
An Ecobrick is an empty, clean plastic bottle jam packed solid with plastic. Crisp packets, chocolate or candy/sweet wrappers*, ice cream wrappers, supermarket packaging, online purchase packaging, straws, styrofoam, list goes on.
I wash my plastic when I’ve finished the dishes, when it’s dried on the draining rack or on the line I place it into a bag to build up my plastic for #StuffItSaturday. All of this plastic is not going to landfill!
*Candy/sweet wrappers were found at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest location on earth at 11.2 km/7 miles.
When you visit a beach to sun-worship, surf, snorkel, freedive, scuba dive, walk your dog, practice yoga, play with the kids, stroll with your loved one, have a BBQ, watch a sunset - whenever you see plastic pick it up and take it with you. ALWAYS take your own trash with you when you go to the beach.
Leave only footprints, take only memories (or photographs for Instagram, taking photos is allowed!)
If you take 3 pieces of plastic with you, that’s 3 pieces less in the ocean. Check out Take 3 for the Sea. Trash Hero run world wide beach clean ups, find out where there is one near you. Before you visit a country, check if there is a Trash Hero organisation. GET INVOLVED!
But don’t stop there! When you visit a park, go hiking, walk up a waterfall or trek a mountain – wherever you see trash, take it with you. Check out Jackson Grove’s Adventure Bag movement, and tag him on Instagram. GET INVOLVED!
As a Scuba Diver, look out for PADI operators who run Dive Against Debris. You basically just go for a dive and collect trash from the ocean. GET INVOLVED!
Smokers – carry a portable ashtray
We all have our vices, but there’s no need to harm our oceans whilst indulging. As a smoker, carry a portable ashtray with you wherever you are on the go, then dispose of your cigarette butt in a bin when you find one. This is especially important when visiting a beach, but also great advice when you are out hiking or sightseeing. Our Travel Shop has a few suggestions.
Use Reef Safe Sunscreen
Did you know that sunscreen contains harmful chemicals? You slather it on protecting your skin, but when you go for a swim, you aren’t protecting our oceans.
Choose a reef safe sunscreen such as Stream 2 Sea, Badger, Green People, Omuci’s Nothing To Hide.
Forget the old romantic idea of picking up sea shells on the sea shore.
Taking sea shells means you are taking a creature’s home such as a hermit crab, or a place for creatures to hide. Shells and dead coral are also needed to make sand; as the ocean crashes onto the beach, them over time they break down to form sand. Removing shells and dead coral from the beach contributes to beach erosion.
There are millions of fish lovers in the world. Some people are pescatarians which means they don’t eat meat just fish and seafood.
Atlantic Cod, Skate, Sea Bass and Atlantic Salmon, and all types of tuna are just a few species which have been fished almost to extinction.
Reducing the amount of fish you eat will obviously help. When I learnt all of the above nearly four years ago from the marine conservationist and dive operator Scuba Junkie, I stopped eating fish all together.
If you want to eat/buy fish, give species a chance to recover and do the following:
- Look for the MSC logo (marine stewardship council).
- Purchase from a fishmonger so you can ask where the fish is from.
- Buy low on the food chain such as sardines or anchovies. Species high on the food chain are tuna and swordfish which are critical to maintain balance.
- Choose lesser known species like wreck fish, wahoo, or mackerel, because this can ease pressure on more popular species.
- If you are in a restaurant, don’t be afraid to ask where it came from.
As harmless as this sounds, feeding fish has a bigger impact. Of course it’s wonderful to have fish all around you when you are snorkelling, and many trips will encourage this because they want you to have the most memorable time. But please do not feed fish, the infographic above supplied by the awesome Gili Shark Conservation explains why.
An example of an amazing natural experience where you surrounded by fish, is Moalboal in the Philippines where you can swim with 8 million sardines.
Never participate in any activity where marine life is fed, such as swimming with whale sharks. It may sound harmless but it’s not. It disrupts their natural behaviour, encourages marine life to associate humans with food, and there many other reasons why feeding is bad depending on the species (whether it be a fish/animal/bird).
Please, if you see a sea star, do not pick it up. It is alive and breathing, and doesn’t want you to hold it out of the water as you pose for photographs. It’s like someone holding your head under water as they take pictures of you. It’s not a good Instagram look to post a photo holding something dead.
Never touch or chase marine life, including turtles. Turtles become stressed if you chase after them, especially when they are coming to the surface to take breathes which enable them to live underwater. If you chase them, they cannot take the big breaths they need and can drown. No one wants the death of a turtle on their hands.
Touching marine life also passes on harmful bacteria which they are unable to handle. If you love turtles, please don’t touch them or anything else in the ocean.
Corals are living animals, just like you. We need healthy coral for our oceans and for marine life to survive. We can harm and kill coral by standing on it whilst snorkelling, and by touching or holding coral whilst freediving or scuba diving. Be a good diver, never hold onto coral to take a photograph.
Watch Chasing Coral, then you will understand more.
In the run up to World Oceans Day, it was reported that Carnival Cruises dumped waste into the ocean for the second time, violating their five-year probation, and were fined $20 million. Back in 2017, they were fined $40 million and placed on probation for illegally dumping contaminated waste into the ocean, then falsifying logs to hide their actions.
Carnival’s annual profits are $1 billion, so they can afford to lose $40 million and carry on polluting our oceans.
Friends of the Earth carried out a cruise report in 2016 of all the major cruise liners. It shows the best and worst cruise ships at that time, but things do change. Some cruise liners get worse favouring profits over conservation, whereas others are striving to increase their environmental impact.
The best way to help any cause is to spread the word. Social Media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are excellent places to share news and ideas. By following various groups/pages/organisations/ocean warriors, you will constantly be learning new ways to make changes.
Please make a start by sharing this post. Not only will you be raising awareness and helping educate others, but you will have taken your first step towards helping our ocean.
Looking after our oceans is so important, not just on World Oceans Day, but every day.
If you care about our planet and a better world, check out these related articles!
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Tips for Living and Travelling with Less Plastic
10 Easy Tips for a Green, Eco-Friendly Christmas
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Volunteering at Gili Air Cat Clinic
Elephant Valley Thailand - Where Elephants Come First
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