The effect of climate change on our oceans is inarguable, and more than that, distressing. As acidity levels rise, the delicate balance of marine ecosystems has started to tip, affecting countless species of fish and plant life that depend on environmental stability to survive. We’ve already seen the consequences.
Coral bleaching events have increased in frequency, leaving large areas of the world’s reefs pale and weak. Diseases like white syndrome are gaining traction, compounding the problem, and pollution from packaging, bottles and spills have all contributed to detrimental, large-scale ocean changes across the globe.
While this situation is admittedly upsetting, more and more people are beginning to acknowledge the effect their actions have on the environment. They’ve adopted eco-friendly lifestyles that reduce their emissions and waste, and many have corrected their bad habits, doing away with single-use plastics for green alternatives.
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So what can you do to help? We’ll touch on five small changes with the potential to make a big difference. The preservation of the planet is a collective responsibility, and through implementing some of the suggestions below, you’ll feel a sense of pride and satisfaction knowing you did your part.
Make Eco-Friendly Purchasing Decisions
Unsustainable fishing practices have a negative impact on global fish populations. You can keep fish stocks at healthy levels by making eco-friendly purchasing decisions when you shop, selecting sustainable seafood with the MSC blue fish certification. This certification ensures that the fish come from a sustainably managed fishery.
It’s also helpful to avoid single-use plastics at the store, choosing biodegradable alternatives over traditional materials. If Americans were to use five fewer straws every year, we could divert more than 1.5 billion straws from both landfills and our oceans — a statistic to consider next time you find yourself at a restaurant.
Act as an Advocate for Marine Animals
Our ocean’s endangered species don’t have a voice. You should act as an advocate for marine animals, being vocal about the importance of environmental preservation for the future of the planet. If given the opportunity, tell your friends and family why the ocean matters, explaining its relevance in their lives.
Many people don’t change their behavior because they’re unaware that they’re contributing to a problem. With tact and sensitivity, you can guide them toward making better decisions, both for themselves and for the environment. All you have to do is start a conversation about some of today’s most pressing issues.
Remain Conscious of Carbon Emissions
To reinforce an earlier point, the rising acidity levels in the ocean have harmed its sensitive ecosystems. Many scientists fear that acidification has the potential to decrease marine biodiversity on a massive scale, and since carbon dioxide is a direct contributor to this issue, it has a relatively straightforward solution.
If you were to reduce your carbon emissions, walking instead of driving or purchasing appliances with high energy-efficiency ratings, you would decrease your footprint and lessen your impact. It may not seem like much, but over time, you’d prevent a considerable amount of emissions from entering the atmosphere.
Take Care of Local Streams and Rivers
As you know, the streams and rivers in your area flow into the ocean, and treating them with respect is important. Trash that falls in a river might end up hundreds of miles away, entering a marine ecosystem where fish mistake it for food. It’s necessary to care for our waterways, and that means taking the initiative.
Among other ways to reduce marine pollution, cleaning up litter and discarded trash along riversides and near streams helps maintain their quality and health. You should research groups in your area that engage in these activities. Alternatively, you can start your own clean-up crew to clear away refuse.
Organize a Clean-Up Crew in Your Area
While this suggestion is more involved than others on the list, it’s well worth the extra effort. If you live near a river, stream or beach, you can organize a clean-up crew to clear away litter and refuse that others have tossed, making sure it doesn’t end up in the ocean. Doing so is an excellent way to reduce pollution and inspire others.
To get started, print out flyers and get the word out. You can post on social media platforms, inform neighbors, friends and family and search for new members to add to your group. Once you’ve found enough people — and reviewed safety procedures — visit your local bodies of water and collect any trash you find.
Awareness of the Problem Won’t Solve It
If you follow the five suggestions above, you’ll improve the health of our oceans. You don’t have to go far out of your way to help, and even something as simple as picking up a piece of trash can keep our waterways clean. After all, an awareness of ocean changes won’t stop them — only action will.
Just take it one day at a time, and if an opportunity presents itself, make the right choice.