Summertime often comes with beach days. Just picturing the bright sun, warm sand, the feeling of swimming in the ocean, and the sound of the waves breaking on the shore is enough to send our minds to a happy place all year long. However, when it comes to trips to the beach, it’s important to keep a sustainable mindset so we can protect the beautiful sites that host us when we are on vacation or just enjoying a relaxing sunset on the sand after a long day at work. Many beaches are negatively affected by the visiting hordes of people who arrive with the warm weather. From chemically made sunscreens to plastic bags, food wrappers, and bottles, there are many ways in which humans create a negative impact on the marine environment. On this note, I am here to present 6 tips for how to be more eco-conscious at the beach.
- Reusable water bottle
Let’s start with the one little thing everyone is most familiar with when it comes to the plastic topic: avoiding single-use water bottles. Staying hydrated at the beach is an absolute necessity. Choosing to pack a reusable water bottle (that hopefully you take everywhere you go by now) is a great way to reduce your use of plastics while keeping plastic bottles out of the ocean.
- Ocean-safe sunscreen
For a day at the beach it’s 100% mandatory to apply a lot of sunscreen to protect yourself from the damage of UVA, UVB, and IR rays. Nevertheless, it is important to opt for products that do not pollute the water. The good news is that it is becoming easier to find organic and eco sunscreens free of the chemical solar filters that are highly toxic to the water and its organisms. Moreover, with climate change increasing the temperatures of the ocean’s surface, coral reefs have been bleaching and dying at an alarming rate, making it even more urgent to switch over to a reef-safe and chemical-free sunscreen.
- Eco-friendly meals
When a beach plan is on the table we know we’ll spend at least half a day there. That means that we need to pack not only plenty of water, but also snacks and food. Get rid of harmful and unnecessary Ziplocs and plastic bags by storing your food in reusable lunchboxes or snack containers, and opt for reusable cutlery made with bamboo, wood, or metal! Choose seasonal and fresh fruits, vegetables, and nuts (easy to buy in bulk) to fuel your beach day. Choose fabric napkins over paper ones and reject wrapping foil for your sandwiches and wraps, choosing to store them in reusable containers or wrapping them in fabric or bee’s wrap!
- Sustainable swimsuit
Conventional swimwear is made of virgin nylon and polyester, which are both plastic-based fabrics. More and more swimwear companies are starting to offer sustainable or upcycled options. Although many of these eco swimwear brands still use nylon and polyester, the plastic fibers are recycled from trashed fishnets and plastic bottles, decreasing the demand for new plastic and giving new life and value to the plastic that already exists.
- Plastic toys and inflatable floats
They are colourful, pretty and great for an Instagram picture and a relaxing day by the pool. But when you decide to bring inflatable pool floats to the beach, there is a lot that can go wrong. If you just can’t live without these, consider restricting their use to the pool, where there is no risk of them being taken away by the wind and getting lost in the waves. The same goes for plastic children’s toys. Items like these can easily be forgotten and left behind, ending up in the ocean. Make sure you take all the toys, balls, and rackets back home with you.
- Give nature a hand
It goes without saying that one should never leave waste of any kind at the beach (or any other place for that matter). Take a close look at the sand before you leave and make sure it is impossible to tell you were ever there. Why not go a bit further and give nature a little aid to compensate for those who don’t share your eco-ideals? “Take 3 pieces of rubbish with you when you leave the beach (…) and you’ve made a difference”. That is the message from Take 3, an Australian not-for-profit organization committed to reducing plastic pollution. A movement that has been spread to 129 countries around the globe and keeps adding more and more participants every day.
So, there you go—six easy tips for a green and sustainable summer! May the only footprint left at the beach be those our feet leave in the sand.
How many of these tips do you already put into action? What other tips can you think of to make a beach day even greener?
Growing up surrounded by nature, Maria’s idea of a perfect scenario resumes itself to a green, sunny and quiet one. She loves to cook vegan food (and even more to eat it), long one-on-one chats, to swim in the ocean, live music, to play the ukulele and a good book.
Her life goal is to travel the world, saving wildlife species and habitats.