Now that summer is just about here, the weather will be getting warmer, vacation mode will be on, and the beach trips will happen. This time of year is filled with outdoor activities that will require us to be extra diligent to ensure we are treating our planet as it deserves to be treated.
We are constantly seeing pictures from many different sources of the Earth being polluted, littered, and mistreated, especially through plastic. Much of what ends up in the environment is there because of human laziness. This poses the question: “How can I enjoy being outside, at a place like the beach, and be kind to the planet?” This is a great question and definitely the place to start!
Photo: Khachik Simonian on Unsplash
Bring Your Own Snacks
When we bring our own snacks and use our own containers, we are much more likely to take them home instead of disposing them on the beach. While it can be a lot of fun to buy food at the beach, sometimes that leads to us spending unnecessary money and wasting unnecessary single-use materials that end up back in the environment. This can be fun, too, because we get to pick and choose what we want, have a lot of options, and end up with some leftovers!
Take Your Waste With You
The trash and recycling bins at the beaches are often full, so it is always a good practice to take the waste home with you. That way, you can dispose of it more appropriately while ensuring it does not end up on the ground or in the ocean. If available, use beeswax wraps to replace plastic baggies. It can be even easier to take home if you pre-sort the waste, which can be a fun activity if you have little ones.
Do Not Feed the Seagulls
Seagulls are always trying to grab whatever they can as quick as they can. However, their eagerness to eat can put them at risk for consuming toxic materials or eating foods they cannot digest. Try to keep it away from them, not only so you can eat in peace, but so that they can be safe as well.
Clean Up Your Spot
As gross as the beach can be, it can’t hurt to clean up the area around your spot and pick up your area once you are ready to leave. If you bring an extra pair of gloves and a little trash bag, you can make it a fun activity! Just be aware of what you pick up: unfortunately, there can be a lot of hazardous waste on the beach. If you see anything that could potentially be hazardous, tell a lifeguard and they can properly dispose of it.
Stay Away From Seashell Shops
These shops can have some cool shells in them, but they often are removing species from the ocean before they are ready to be removed (think of the SpongeBob SquarePants movie). If we buy shells from those shops, we are only encouraging the solicitation of the ocean. If you like to collect washed-up seashells, make sure there is nothing alive in them, and enjoy them!
Take Care to Avoid the Wildlife
Seeing the creatures that live in the ocean can be an amazing experience, but for their benefit, try to avoid them. Some creatures, like manatees, love to interact with people, so if you know you are going to an area where you are more likely to bump into one, research how to interact safely with them safely before your trip to the beach. Otherwise, pay attention to the signs posted near the shores and watch out for whatever might be in the water. Sea creatures can become very sick or hurt if they come in contact with people.
Be sure to wear your sunscreen, be a little conscientious, and enjoy your time at the beach! Have a fun and responsible summer!
Elizabeth Coleman is a passionate writer from Massachusetts. She is twenty three years old and is currently working on her MS from Nova Southeastern University in Conflict Analysis and Resolution. She graduated last year from Keene State College with two BAs, one in Holocaust and Genocide Studies with a minor in history and the other in Criminal Justice Studies. Elizabeth loves to read, but her all time favorite book would have to be "To Kill A Mockingbird" by Harper Lee. In five years, Elizabeth hopes to be investigating extremism and hate groups in the United States. Elizabeth steps up for justice, equality, and making the world a bit better for everyone.