Summer is the best. Everyone looks forward to enjoying warmer weather, relaxing in the sun, sipping cocktails on rooftops, and of course, visiting the beach. Whether you’re heading out for a day trip or on vacation, the beach always makes for a day of fun.
That being said, it can be easy to forget the beach is home to many plants, animals, and ecosystems. With all the fun, it’s important to remember that we are guests and need to be responsible visitors. In this blog post, I’m going to share a few simple tips for a more sustainable trip to the beach!
1. Skip the single-use plastic
Reducing the use of single-use plastics is a general rule when it comes to living more sustainability. Reusable items will make the perfect addition to your beach trip, cutting down on plastics and waste. A few common reusable items to add to your packing list include:
- Reusable water bottle
- Reusable cutlery set (bamboo sets make for a lightweight option!)
- Reusable beach bag
2. Bring waste free snacks
Snacks are another item that can accumulate a lot of plastic and waste. There are so many great options to bring to the beach that are low waste, tasty, and convenient! Here are just a few great ideas:
- carrot sticks
- celery sticks
- trail mix
- dried fruit
3. Remember you are a guest visiting the home of many plants and animals
As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, it’s important to remember that the beach is home to many plants, animals, and ecosystems. The beach provides an awesome opportunity to explore and learn about the surrounding wildlife and has to be one of my favourite parts about going to the beach! Depending on where you are too, you can encounter some pretty amazing species. This being said, remember to be considerate of their habitats and keep a responsible distance so as to not interfere with their well-being.
4. Use reef-friendly sunscreen
The majority of sunscreens contain harmful ingredients like oxybenzone and octinoxate which are linked to coral bleaching. You may think, “I don’t have any corals at my beach”. Even if this is true however, these ingredients can be harmful to the wildlife. In fact, recent research by the FDA has confirmed that only two of the 16 currently used main chemical ingredients in commonly purchased over-the-counter sunscreens are considered safe. Further research is required to determine the status of the other ingredients. Click here to read more.
5. Read and obey signage
Keeping with the theme of local ecosystems and wildlife, a lot of signage posted at beaches is there to protect the local environment. Our actions have the ability to negatively impact the environment around us and signage can help keep us accountable and aware of responsible beach use. For example, signs can inform us of protected habitats, hazards, or delicate environments (like dunes which can be destroyed by people climbing or walking on them). Be sure to read the signs around the area and obey their direction. They exist for both yours and the local environment’s safety!
6. Leave no trace
It is so important to leave the beach in a clean and safe condition. Please be especially mindful of any trash that may be leftover from your trip or beach toys that you may have brought along. It is extremely common for beach toys to be taken away with the tide where they can wash up days or even weeks later (worse, they can break down into smaller plastics and never wash back up). I’ve had the pleasure of attending two organized 4ocean beach cleanups and will never forget how many broken, old pieces of plastic washed up on shore from beach toys being washed away! Another item that blew me away was how many cigarette butts were collected from the beach during the cleanup — yuck! If you are a smoker, please be sure to dispose of these properly. Not only are these awful to see aesthetically, but the toxins, toxic chemicals, and carcinogens from cigarettes collect on the filter and wash away into the water.
Did you know that scientists are projecting there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans by 2050? – Source
7. Leave the beach better than you found it
If you want to go one step further — why not leave the beach better than when you arrived? By packing an extra garbage bag, you can collect any bottles, pieces of plastic, or trash that you encounter on the beach and remove it from the environment. I bet you’ll be surprised by just how much trash you can collect in a very short period of time! When we go to the beach, we like to bring our “trash picker grabber” which removes the direct contact and also helps with not having to bend over too much.
8. Engage in responsible wildlife and ecotourism
Often popular activities for those on holiday, wildlife and ecotourism draw a lot of interest from individuals looking to experience and learn about the local environment. Unfortunately, there are many companies and activities out there that can cause more harm than good to the local wildlife. For example, avoid any activity which engages with captive animals. When it comes to activities like snorkelling and scuba diving, be sure to do your research to find a reputable company with ethical and sustainable practices.
The beach is an amazing place to visit, with plenty to offer in terms of fun, relaxation, and education. Just as we enjoy the beaches today, it’s important that we maintain and protect them by being responsible and sustainable visitors so that ecosystems can continue to thrive and future generations can enjoy them too!
What are your favourite ways to be more sustainable at the beach? I’d love to hear about them!