We think it's pretty safe to say everyone wants to help protect our oceans and waterways. If you don't, well, you've got a cold heart, friend. You've also seriously underestimated how much we depend on having a source of clean drinking and bathing water, and a healthy, sustainable source of edible marine food. But we also understand that the thought of tackling the issues threatening these waterways can be a little overwhelming when you've got dry cleaning and deadlines.
Enter the Ocean Minded ambassadors, a team of ocean athletes who are well versed in the simple, surprisingly easy things you can do to lend a hand. And there's no better time to pick your favorite and give it a shot than on Earth Day, which takes place on April 22. Here, five "do it today" tips from the Ocean Minded team:
Say no to plastic
Forgetting your reusable bag may not seem like a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but every piece of plastic has a chance of ending up in our oceans, where it can be ingested by marine animals and, in turn, enter the food chain and end up on your dinner plate. "Make sure to use reusable bags for grocery shopping to cut back on plastic use," says Gillian Gibree, founder of Paddle into Fitness SUP yoga studio. Surfer Hailey Partridge stashes foldable ChicoBags in her purse, while her twin sister, Sierra, brings her own fork when she goes out to eat. (Try stashing a clean one in your purse or on the dashboard of your car so you don't forget.) Surfer Avery Aydelotte makes waste-free lunches: "I pack my lunch every day for school and I use reusable pouches instead of plastic baggies." Check out reuseit.com for colorful pouches, or buy Sierra Partridge's utensil set at to-goware.com.
Turn off the waterworks
"Life in the dormitories at [University of California Santa Barbara] has taught me many things, but one of the most shocking is how much water people use," says surfer Lulu Erkeneff. "Whether it be standing in the shower for an extra couple of minutes or leaving the sink on when washing your hands, those moments represent a precious resource going to waste." She suggests taking time every day to reflect on your water usage and finding ways to cut back, which will conserve clean water and help reduce runoff into waterways and oceans.
Shop at your local farmers' market or sign up for a CSA (community supported agriculture) box so you can get local and fresh produce every week, suggests Sierra Partridge. "Not only is eating locally grown food fresher and tastes better," she says, "it also has to travel less of a distance to get to you, which is less taxing on the environment."
When you clean, be clean
Name-brand housecleaning products are often laden with toxic chemicals. The good news? There are plenty of all-natural swaps you can make and keep a clean home. "You can pretty much clean your whole house with baking soda and vinegar," says Aydelotte. "But if you don't want to do that, there are a lot of options out there now that you can buy that won't harm our lakes and oceans." Avoid ingredients like butyl cellosolve, common in all-purpose, window, and other types of cleaners; perchloroethylene, a spot remover; and nonylphenol ethoxylate, a common detergent. These ingredients could cause damage to the liver, kidneys, bone marrow, and nervous system and easily pollute waterways.
One of the easiest things you can do on Earth Day is to pledge to turn off your power and electronics for an hour—that's it! "If you could spend an hour or more without any electronics, even your phone, every day, that would reduce the amount of greenhouse gases being emitted into the atmosphere and making our oceans more acidic," says Erkeneff. "Leave your phone at home and take some time to enjoy the beauty of nature without any distractions. Not only will it make you feel refreshed and happier, but it will also positively impact our environment."
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