The oceans are our largest resource for life on Earth, and also our most exploited. That kind of paradox could give anyone an identity crisis. We seem to think we can take all the goodies out and put all our garbage in, and then expect them to keep happily ticking away indefinitely.
The impacts of climate change, pollution and overfishing should be headline news because the ocean and all of humankind who depend on it’s resources are facing the very real prospect of the catastrophic collapse of ocean ecosystems if we continue on our current path.
A healthy ocean means more than beautiful beaches and vibrant marine-life. A healthy ocean provides the air we breathe, the food we eat and the water we drink. If the ocean isn’t healthy, neither are we.
You can make sure the ocean continues to provide inspiration, wonder and solutions in the future by the personal choices you make on a daily basis. Ask yourself this question: When you look upon the ocean a decade from now, do you want to see a sad reminder of what could have been; or do you want to be filled with amazement and inspired by a sense of endless possibilities?
Use this Hashtag: #BlueLivingPledge to show your support and share why the Oceans are important to you!
Here is a list of actions you can take to reduce your impact on the Oceans and promote Blue Living!
1. Reduce your Carbon Footprint
Every time you flip on the lights, turn on the water faucet, charge a cell phone, hop a plane or in any other way create carbon emissions, we’re directly causing the acidification of the ocean and the harmful disruption of marine life that results.You can calculate you carbon Footprint here: Carbon Footprint Calculator
Reduce the effects of climate change on the ocean by leaving the car at home when you can and being conscious of your energy use at home and work. A few things you can do to get started today: Switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs, take the stairs, and bundle up or use a fan to avoid setting your thermostat to high.
2. Reduce plastics at all costs.
Plastic is made from petroleum. Oil drilling is a major source of ocean pollution.
Plastics are not only killing marine life, but also entering the food chain to ultimately end up on our dinner plates through the seafood we eat.
By making purchases that take into account the packaging of the products, and choosing to minimize as much as possible how much packaging we consume and recycling as much of what we do end up consuming as possible, we can make big strides in stopping the flow of plastic into the ocean.
3. Strive to be Fish Free
Take a cue from Meatless Mondays and try Fish Free Fridays, which means you go veggie instead! This includes our feline and canine companions, by buying fish-free pet food. Lots of good fish that would otherwise feed whales and dolphins—as well as wasted fish from inefficient harvesting—go toward making pet food. If you see “fish meal” on the label, don’t buy it!
For plant based seafood option check out; VegWeb Seafood Alternatives
If you choose to consume seafood please do so sustainably; visit The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program for more information.
4. Reduce Consumption Habits Become a Locavore!
Wait, ordering that toy from online could cause whale deaths? The short answer is yes. While humans have been sailing the seas for millennia, the shipping industry has skyrocketed over the last few decades. Much of that is due to our consumption habits. Raw materials are transported on container ships to manufacturing plants, and products are then loaded up on ships to be transported to the hands of consumers. The more stuff we consume, the more stuff needs to be shipped across oceans. But crossing paths with those container ships and carrier vessels are whales.
In addition these ships contribute to the pollution of the ocean and actually transport invasive species that in turn have negative impacts on native ecosystems.
The loud sounds of ships or “ocean noise” makes it hard for whales to communicate with one another, which means heightened stress levels and decreased opportunities for mating and feeding, among other consequences. Even worse, collision with ships is a major problem for whales, including threatened and endangered species.
Reducing our consumption of material goods can literally help threatened whale populations recover and enable native ecosystems to sustain and recover. In short, buy local and support the local economy.
5. Avoid Chemical Sunscreens
Common ingredients in sunscreen activate dormant viruses in algae that cause the algae to explode and kill the coral beds they feed. Additionally, when the algae explodes, it releases the virus into nearby coral beds. The algae provides the coral with food energy through photosynthesis. Without the algae, the coral bleaches white and dies. not only are chemical sunscreens harmful to coral they have been known to feminize male fish.
For more information on how you can protect yourself and the ocean and still use sunscreen check out: Environmental Working Group’s 2014 guide to sunscreens
6. Don’t Purchase Items That Exploit Marine Life
Certain products contribute to the harming of fragile coral reefs and marine populations. Avoid purchasing items such as coral jewelry, tortoiseshell hair accessories (made from hawksbill turtles), and shark products.
The aquarium trade is a global industry with no centralized database to track what gets bought and sold, and with no central governing body to enforce regulations. Removing animals from the wild can have serious consequences-both for their survival as a species and for their habitat.
Most tropical fish sold in pet stores come from reefs in Indonesia and the Philippines, where fishermen stun the colorful dwellers with squirts of sodium cyanide. The potent nerve toxin causes the fish to float up out of the reefs so they can be easily scooped up, but it can also injure or kill them as well as trigger coral bleaching.
The best thing to do is to not have an aquarium but if you thinking about starting an aquarium, the most important thing is to educate yourself and know where the species you purchase have come from and do not release them into the wild as they could become an invasive species such as the lionfish in the Atlantic Ocean.
7. Take your water sports off the grid.
If you love being out on the water, do it fossil fuel free; sail, row, swim, surf! All of those are healthy, wonderful ways to enjoy the water without spoiling the water, the fish, or people’s hearing.
Never throw anything overboard, and be aware of marine life in the waters around you. If you’re set on taking a cruise for your next vacation, do some research to find the most eco-friendly option.
8. Educate Yourself About Oceans and Marine Life
All life on Earth is connected to the ocean and its inhabitants. The more you learn about the issues facing this vital system, the more you’ll want to help ensure its health then share that knowledge to educate and inspire others.