For many of us the long summer holidays are now in full swing which probably means trips to the beach – either on a day trip or as part of a vacation. A day at the beach is all about fun of course but how can we make sure that we minimise our impact? Aside from being beautiful places to be, beaches are complex and fragile ecosystems that can be easily damaged. This edition of Wise Choices brings you lots of ideas to make sure your activities don’t harm anything – and maybe even make it better than when you arrived!
Hairbands: Let’s face it, anyone who wears a hairband will have lost one in the sea at some point – even with the best of intentions. NObbles have a plastic-free version – GENIUS!
Sunscreen: There’s more and more evidence that many sunscreens are harmful to marine life – make a Wise Choice and use an ocean-friendly sunscreen. Remember to wait a while for it to soak in before you jump in too!
Cover up: Use less sunscreen and protect yourself from the sun with a rash vest – you can even buy swimwear and rash vests that are made from recycled ghost fishing nets and other marine plastic
Flip-flops: It is SO easy to lose a pair of flip-flops in the sea and while some of them do get recycled into amazing things – like this boat – let’s stop the problem at the source. Hold them in your hand when you walk along the beach, keep them above the high tide mark or if you want to wear shoes in the water get purpose-made shoes that stay on.
Keep it reusable: If you’ve got babies of nappy wearing age – you can use reusable swim nappies like these.
Have fun AND learn AND help
Citizen Science: There are lots of ways to get involved… here are some UK options, or if you are near a coral reef you could do a CoralWatch survey. Don’t forget to log your seahorse, manta ray, whale shark or coastal sightings too.
Seashore Safari: In Pembrokeshire, Wales, Sea Trust has a wonderful Seashore Safari programme – perfect for curious kids. If you are not in that area there is sure to be something similar nearby
Beach trek: Just a walk along the beach will give you plenty to look at and learn from. Remember though – shells should stay on the beach and not be taken home – take a photo instead!
Take a trip: Take a boat trip or a guided walk – but support those companies who run ethical trips and politely feedback to those who don’t put sustainability at the heart of what they do.
Take only memories and leave only footprints
BBQ: If you have a BBQ on the beach, do so only where allowed and remove all trace – remembering that sand can stay hot for a long time and be a burn hazard many hours after.
Fill it in: If you’ve dug a hole on the beach be sure to fill it in before you leave – wildlife can get trapped in them – especially turtle hatchlings.
Butts don’t belong: Cigarette butts are the biggest man-made ocean contaminant – 4.5 TRILLION filters are littered each year and just one cigarette butt per litre of water can be toxic to fish.
Look but don’t touch
Stay Safe: The easiest way to protect yourself AND marine life is to keep your hands to yourself – even washed up, dead jellyfish can still sting!
Snorkelling: Use a buoyancy aid to keep yourself up and out of the way of the seafloor – it makes for a restful snorkel too which means you can stay out longer!
Seal pups: It will soon be seal pupping season in the UK – remember, keep dogs away and never approach the seals. If you think you see a stranded or sick seal call The British Divers Marine Life Rescue or your local equivalent.
When it comes to climate change and plastic pollution the size of the challenge can appear to be overwhelming but making small lifestyle changes can make a big difference to the health of our oceans if enough of us do them. It can help us inspire others to make Wise Choices as well as help drive policy changes in both business and government.