I’m heading to the beach later this week for some much needed rest and recreation, so my mind turned to how people can be green at the beach. Here’s a quick list of five things you can do to make your beach vacation as environmentally friendly as possible.
1) Obey the posted rules. Many beaches are near or inside of land protected by the government, which may be trying to protect delicate ecosystems, dunes, rare plants or animals, and the like. A couple of years ago I visited Cape Cod’s National Seashore, which posted clear rules about where to walk on your way to the remote shoreline. It’s really important to follow the rules about where to walk and what to do when near these areas. Mass numbers of people trampling through dunes and plants inflicts a huge amount of environmental damage that’s otherwise very easy to avoid.
2) Don’t be a litterbug. This should go without saying but don’t leave your water bottles, cigarette butts, and other garbage on the beach. These could wash out to sea before kind beach cleanup volunteers come by to pick up your mess. Take plastic bottles with you and recycle them at a convenient bin, and dispose of other trash properly.
3) Leave the coral alone. I’ve previously written about delicate coral and how important it is to leave it alone. Coral reefs are terribly endangered as the ocean warms up and becomes more acidic as a result of climate change. If you’re headed to a beach and plan to snorkel down to coral habitats, please avoid poking them, breaking off bits, or otherwise disturbing the wildlife.
4) Don’t buy things made from endangered species. As you walk down a boardwalk you may be tempted to buy trinkets made of coral or other sea animals. Please don’t. By doing so you’re providing demand and support for the continued exploitation and killing of these delicate sea creatures. Stick to fairly innocuous stuff like dead driftwood, or jewelry that looks like coral without being the real thing.
5) Minimize bathing with suntan lotion (or find an eco friendly brand). I know this is a tough one, but think of how the chemicals in that suntan lotion (which increasingly contain nanoparticles with unknown environmental effects) are leaching into the ocean from your skin. Skin protection with high SPF suntan lotion is essential in order to avoid cancer, but the greenest option is to minimize bathing while slathered up.
A better alternative may be to look for eco friendly suntan lotions that won’t release toxic chemicals into the ocean. I did a bit of research on the Internet and came up with these names, although I don’t have experience with any of these brands myself: Kiss My Face, MexiTan, Caribbean Sol, UV Natgural, Soleo Organics and Luvea Neutrals. I sense a future blog post on this topic when I know more. In the meantime, do your research and don’t take any eco friendly claims at face value.
Enjoy the beach, but don’t forget to be environmentally friendly while you’re there!