Ocean conservation is more important now than ever — protecting our oceans and preventing the further decline of our reefs must be a top global priority. It’s difficult to think about our impact on a global level, but there are things you and I can do to help preserve our waters for generations to come.
Take part in ocean cleanups
Taking part in local beach, river and underwater clean-up events is a great way to spend a morning or afternoon. These events remove hundreds of tons of ghost nets, abandoned crab and lobster traps, cigarette butts, straws and other marine debris annually from our waters. Give local conservation a hand by staying up-to-date on events near you, or make your next dive part of a global cleanup effort. Also consider making it your personal mission to pick up trash whenever you’re spending time outdoors. Be sure to bring along a biodegradable or reusable bag for trash collecting. We love #Take3ForTheSea, an organization that encourages the habit of removing three pieces of trash when you leave the beach, waterway or anywhere to make a positive difference.
Use safe body-care products
Ocean-friendly products have quickly gaining attention, but using them is also important for inland communities and at home. Many marine-toxic personal care ingredients like oxybenzone and parabens are not filtered out by wastewater treatment facilities, which discharge them directly into marine-sensitive environments. Just 62 parts per trillion of oxybenzone can kill coral larvae — that’s equivalent to just one drop in six Olympic-sized swimming pools. It’s so important to be aware of what you’re putting on your body and introducing into the environment. What many assume is safe for you has been proven to not be safe for marine-life. Everyone is talking about reef-safe sunscreen, but the eco-conscious diver should also look at the ingredients in shampoos, conditioners and other products.
If you’re overwhelmed by the options that line the store shelves, don’t worry — we’ve got you. Check out the top-notch mineral sunscreens from Stream2Sea. All of their products are tested and proven to be reef-safe — all the way down to their recyclable bio-packaging. The sunscreen tubes are made from sugarcane resins and their larger sizes come in containers made from recycled milk jugs. They even have an assortment of soothing lip balms, hair-care products and after-sun products, all tested and proven safe.
Take a stand against ghost-net pollution
Abandoned fishing nets are very destructive to marine life, often horrifically catching turtles, sharks, and other pelagic species. You may not be able to remove these “ghost” fishing nets from the waters yourself, but you can support their removal by purchasing products made from marine-recycled products, helping to sustain a market for recovered nets.
Various companies are committed to up-cycling this harmful pollutant, including Fourth Element’s swimsuits and Stream2Sea’s eco rash guards. You can reduce the amount of sunscreen you use by wearing UPF clothing like these rash guards made from recycled ghost nets. We also love these recycled ghost-net bracelets from Planet Love Life. Every purchase supports ghost-net recovery and a specific conservation activity.
Call to Action
Your personal choices matter — from the products you use on your skin and hair to choosing to help clean up a messy beach. Knowledge is power, so be sure to learn how to read an ingredient label, rather than just trust the company’s marking materials. Stream2Sea’s Education Center can help empower you with free education modules to learn more about the science and importance of protecting the oceans.
Once you’ve fortified your reef-safe knowledge, spread the word and advocate for the oceans and reefs. Stay informed on the major steps that are happening toward sunscreen bans. So far, Palau, Hawaii, Bonaire, Aruba, and Key West have all banned some harmful chemicals contained in sunscreen.
Our oceans are facing enormous challenges today, including ocean acidification and marine debris. But we believe every small action has the ability to create significant positive change. Protect what you love by making eco-conscious and informed decisions about what you put on your body, sharing your knowledge and keeping our beaches and oceans clean for future generations of divers and ocean-lovers.