The Ocean Lover’s Guide to a Sustainable beach day

Ocean First   Jul 05, 2022

As the sun gets hotter and the days get longer, we salty-haired and sandy-toed enthusiasts have one thing in mind: a long-awaited beach day. But as the summer season approaches, we must remain mindful of our own impact on our beloved beaches. All marine life is a part of a very fragile ecosystem that we must protect at all costs.
Here are some easy tips you can implement to ensure your next beach day is a blast for you and the sea!

Leave No Trace!

This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s easy to forget that wrapper you said you’d pick up is still in the sand for the ocean to sweep up. Leave the beach exactly the way you found it! Always come prepared with a trash bag to make your sleepy end-of-the-day cleanup a bit easier.

Even if your space is litter-free, look around and make sure there is no leftover trash from other beach-goers. You could save a sea turtle from thinking that the plastic bag you see blowing in the wind is a jellyfish by simply tossing it in the trash!

And don’t forget pesky cigarette butts! Cigarette butts are one of the most collected items during beach cleanups and despite many people’s assumptions, they are not biodegradable. The filters are actually made of plastic–which leads us to the next tip. Spoiler alert: plastic ain’t it!

Breakup With Plastic

When it comes to today’s environmental issues, we can think of plastic as a mass-murderer killing innocent wildlife, especially marine animals, and contimating our air and water sources with no mercy. A beach day with no plastic is a successful day in my books and it’s not that hard to achieve!

Quit the plastic water bottles and opt for a reusable one. Nowadays there are so many options from Nalgene to HydroFlask. I personally carry around my Yeti water bottle everywhere I go; and the best part–my drink stays cold all day! Pick a style you like and thank me later. Glass tupperware is a godsend for ocean-side snacks, but if your beach bag is tight on space consider purchasing some reusable, resealable bags. Stasher sells these kriller reusable silicon storage bags that can easily replace your zip-locks, the ocean will appreciate it!

Sustainable SPF

Sunscreen guards us from harmful ultraviolet radiation and should be worn especially while soaking up the sun. However, some sunscreen that may protect us has quite literally the opposite effect on the ocean. Common ingredients like oxybenzone, octinoxate, nano titanium dioxide, and nano zinc oxide can actually harm coral reefs and sea creatures.

When picking out your sunscreen, dive a bit deeper into your research instead of settling with a “reef safe” sunscreen. Some companies greenwash consumers by labeling products as “reef safe,” while in reality these products can actually harm the environment.

Go past the labels and look for mineral-based sunscreens that are oxybenzone- and octinoxate-free. I personally recommend Biossance’s Squalane and Zinc Sheer Mineral Sunscreen or Supergoop’s Mineral Sheerscreen!

Level Out Sand

We all love building sand castles or “digging a hole to China,” however, irregular sand displacement can actually become an obstacle for marine life.

Baby sea turtles already face the daunting task of making it to the sea from the shore where they hatched safely. Uneven sand only adds another risk to their journey. Before you leave the beach, level out any sand you may have tampered with. The most opulent sand castle is not worth the safety of newborn sea turtles that need to get home!

Be Wary of Wildlife and Ecotourism

Wildlife tourism is a growing industry and is appealing to those who seek personal experiences with local cultures and wildlife. However, the ecosystems of the wild are extremely delicate. Sometimes, it’s better to play the role of the observer rather than tampering with the natural world.

Do your research and stay mindful about the activities you support! If you are unsure about the ethical impacts of a wildlife tourism industry, check out 5 Guidelines for Ethical Wildlife Tourism for some helpful guidance!

Speak Up!

By carrying out these tips you alone can support the health of our beaches and ocean, however, the real change needs to come from the masses!

Encourage your friends, family, and local businesses to think a bit greener, or bluer for that matter. If you are having trouble finding eco-friendly products, let businesses in on your frustration. Research ocean policies before you vote and contact your local representatives to let them know where your support lies.

The list goes on, but the message is the same–speaking up for our ocean will make the most waves in the pursuit of change!

I hope your next beach day finds you well. By practicing these tips and tricks we can assure many more to come! Let’s keep it salty, sandy, and sustainable this summer. I know I can hardly wait!