Today is Aug. 30. Not only is it the day before school starts, but it is also National Beach Day. Considering summer is coming to a close, spending your last day on the beach to celebrate this “national holiday” is a rational idea. This isn’t the only way to celebrate though; our oceans and beaches are threatened more and more by pollution each day, endangering marine life and our planet. Here are four ways to make the most of National Beach Day while doing our oceans a favor.
- Limit your plastic usage
I’m sure you wouldn’t want trash lying around your home, so why would marine life want it in theirs? Sadly, the 100% of baby sea turtles with plastic inside their stomachs didn’t have a say in what entered their home. The over five trillion plastic pieces in our ocean are detrimental towards marine life by increasing the amount of pathogens in the water.
There are ways you can help. On the local scale, reducing your community’s use of plastic is vital. Something as simple as encouraging others to use reusable bags instead of plastic ones at the grocery store is a step in the right direction. To help on a national level, you can support the Break Free From Plastic Movement, which aims to “bring systemic change through a holistic approach tackling plastic pollution across the whole plastics value chain, focusing on prevention rather than cure and providing effective solutions.” While it helps, an effort by a small group of people isn’t enough; we need to involve legislation and make the fight against plastic usage a national priority.
- Reduce, reuse, recycle
You’ve likely heard this phrase a million times before, but recycling creates a positive impact on the environment. By recycling, less garbage is tossed into oceans or landfills and instead can be manufactured into new products. It also lessens the amount of new plastic being created to replace the trashed plastic.
“I try to recycle as much as possible since it helps the planet. I recognize that the little things make a difference, so I recycle whenever I can. I really like that Heritage has recycling bins in the Student Center to toss out recyclable products at lunch,” sophomore Ella Mosquera said.
Can’t find a place near you to recycle? Visit Earth911’s recycling search website; it’ll help find a place to deposit your recyclable goods near you.
- Organize a beach cleanup
Round up your friends, family, church group or whoever is willing to help out and head to your local beach armed with trash bags and gloves. While the impact you’re making may seem small, it goes a long way.
According to the Ocean Blue Project, “Beach cleanup projects remove litter from the shoreline and ensure its proper disposal. Microplastics and recyclable materials are often found during beach cleanups. Through proper disposal, these materials transform into recycled products. Waste facilities collect the rest of the debris found through beach cleanups. That way litter stays off our beaches.”
Don’t just limit yourself to cleaning our beaches once a year. The Marine Biology Club, led by Mrs. Versteeg, participates in multiple beach cleanup events a year such as the Fort Lauderdale Beach Sweep. Attendance in these cleanups are a beneficial way to earn service hours while protecting the Earth.
“I think that beach cleanups are a fantastic way to help out the environment, however, it’s not enough. We need to all do our part to make sure our waste ends up where it is supposed to be,” Mrs. Versteeg, the advisor of the Marine Biology Club, said.
- Take fish off the dinner menu
Overfishing takes away from the large variety of species in our beaches, not to mention that it creates an imbalance in the ecosystem. This threatens marine life to a large degree. Once fish are taken out of the food chain, it disrupts the rest of the chain and leads to the extinction of other species, such as turtles.
“Overfishing is harmful, so we shouldn’t do it,” Heritage’s Florida Wildlife and Conservation (FLOWCON) co-president Valeria Fernandez Boidi said. Oceans are an important source of food and biodiversity for the planet, so it’s vital to keep the food chain in check.
Additionally, fishermen often pollute the oceans with their nets due to improper disposal of them. These nets belong in the recycling bin, but often end up abandoned in the ocean.
These four tasks will help keep the blue oceans you vacation at from becoming a green, musty dump site. Nothing lasts forever, and it’s only so long before the clock runs out for our natural aquatics. So, spend your national beach day doing something serviceable for your beaches; the water will thank you.