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How to do your part for the oceans

June 9th, 2009

By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

Given the enormity of climate change, it’s not always easy to calculate how we individuals can make a contribution that matters. In honor of World Oceans Day (June 8), the Nature Conservancy has assembled a list of a few concrete ways we can help heal, or at least minimize the damage to, our marine world.

The list is a testament to our connectedness here on planet Earth — did you realize that the nitrogen fertilizer you dump on the yard could be part of the pollution overpowering streams and rivers; winding up in the ocean where it creates algal “blooms” that starve marine life of oxygen? Ah, right. That’s not what you were thinking of when you cracked open the bag of weed-and-feed. Heavy stuff, yes, but the sort of thing we humans need to think on. That lovely green turf comes with an environmental price tag — unless and until you find other ways to feed the lawn, like using lower nitrogen-content organic food.

Or take plastic. It’s nice to think it’s recycled. But fact is, the majority is not recycled, and somehow we consumers of bottled water and soda and all manner of plastic packaging and goods have generated a giant ball of plastic trash about the size of Texas that bobs around in the Pacific Ocean, a trash monument to the 20th Century.

Ok, so you see how what we do plays out on the larger canvas. Now consider these ideas for making changes from the Nature Conservancy:

  • Reduce your plastic consumption. The most frequently collected items during beach cleanups are made of plastic – think reusable shopping bags, water bottles and utensils.
  • Make informed seafood choices. Keep a copy of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s seafood guide in your wallet or text Blue Ocean’s FishPhone to help you choose sustainable seafood at the grocery store or a restaurant.
  • Dispose of chemicals properly. Never pour chemicals, pharmaceuticals, oil or paint into the drain or toilets. Check with your county’s household hazardous waste program to properly dispose of or recycle chemicals and keep them out of rivers and oceans.
  • Choose green detergents and household cleaners-or make your own! Besides being better for your own health, these products are safer for the environment since what goes down the drain can end up in our oceans.
  • Get the dirt on your beachside retreat. Before you stay in a hotel on the coast, ask staff what happens to their sewage and swimming pool water, and if they source their restaurant fish from sustainable sources.
  • Find out the source of your food. Buying local, organic food reduces your carbon footprint, supports the local economy and reduces the amount of pesticides and fertilizers that end up not just in your stomach, but as run-off in rivers and oceans, too.
  • Fill your yard with native species. Reducing the amount of grass in your lawn by planting native shrubs and flower beds will provide a better habitat for birds and other wildlife and require far less water and fertilizer, which can seep into the oceans.
  • Keep your beach visit clean. When visiting the beach, stay off fragile sand dunes, take your trash with you and leave plants, birds and wildlife for everyone to enjoy. Find a Conservancy coastal preserve near you.
  • Choose alternatives to coral. Whether shopping for jewelry, household décor or accessories for your fish tank, do your part to leave fragile coral reef habitats untouched by buying products that aren’t made of real coral.
  • Celebrate our oceans. Whether you live inland or on the coast, we are all connected to the ocean; take the time to organize or participate in activities that restore and celebrate the ocean, and help support The Nature Conservancy’s ocean conservation work by visiting the Conservancy’s website.
  • Copyright © 2009 Green Right Now | Distributed by Noofangle Media


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