Beaches are rich, diverse ecosystems that need to be protected! What happens on our beaches also affects the health of the world’s oceans. We can all do a better job of keeping our beaches and oceans clean. Scientists believe that around eight million tons of plastic debris were washed into the ocean in 2015 alone (1). This poses a threat not just to aquatic wildlife, but to humans as well. Plastics break down in the ocean and are consumed by fish, contaminating our food supply. And beyond that, chemicals and nutrients from human activity on the beach also pollute the ocean (2). So, what can you do to decrease your impact on the environment next time you’re at the beach?
- Leave the plastic at home! Bring food, sunscreen and other supplies in cloth bags and other reusable containers. Keeping non-perishable items in a beach bag and storing them together will make packing and planning your next beach outing faster and easier. [Sunset Beach Civic Association]
- Pick up any trash you see on the beach. It may not seem like much, but if everyone does their part to keep our beaches clean, it can create a huge imapct. Bring along a paper bag and collect garbage as you enjoy walking, running, and relaxing around the shore.
- If you’re planning on grilling food, be sure to put leftover charcoal in the specified metal containers.
- Everyone loves bonfires, but remember to avoid burning trash in your bonfire. Toxins and debris from the fire will be left in the sand and be washed into the ocean. The air around you will also be polluted with smoke from burning plastics, metals, and fabrics.
- Pick up after your pets. Nitrogen and phosphorous from animal waste can lead to algae blooms and illness in fish. Same goes for human waste, so make sure your baby or toddler is wearing a waterproof diaper if you plan on taking them into the water.
These are just a few thoughtful ways to ensure that humans can keep enjoying our beaches responsibly!