One of our favourite things about nature is that it is cyclical; it’s a closed loop system. It never creates anything naturally that it can’t deal with in some way.
Would anyone else like to go back in time to the moment when plastic was created and take with them evidence of how it has affected our planet? Plead with them to turn back, to say no to something that we can’t break down without polluting our eco-system? Sometimes we get that urge. Sadly, that is not an option.
So much of the plastic we consume ends up in our oceans now. It gets mistaken by marine life as food, choking or starving them; it entangles and drowns them; it breaks down into the water, polluting their home in irreversible ways. It is truly heartbreaking.
What can we do to help? Simply living more consciously is a good start, but we need to be doing more to combat the damage already done. Here are a few resounding suggestions from the global community of Ocean lovers and researchers.
- Reduce Energy Use: Climate change is hitting our oceans hard. We are seeing reefs disappear, coral graveyards become more prevalent due to rising water temperatures, and higher acidity due to high levels of carbon dioxide being absorbed into the oceans. Walk more, drive less. Use energy efficient appliances. Be mindful of your carbon footprint and ways you can reduce it.
- Straws: These handy beverage accessories have made the Top 10 list of things washing up on our shores. Switch the plastic versions out for a reusable option like metal or glass, or at least a sustainable, biodegradable option like recycled paper. Or simply just sip without!
- Toothbrushes: Such a simple item, yet something so integral to our way of life. We probably each use on average 3-4 toothbushes per year. Keep them out of landfills and oceans by choosing a sustainable option, like bamboo. For the entire month of November, receive a free bamboo toothbrush from SALT with any purchase $100 or more. Bring in your plastic brush to be recycled and get a second one! Or just drop yours off to our collection bins. We will be sending away all the toothbrushes we collect for proper recycling.
- Drink Containers: Staying hydrated is key and doing it without leaving an item in a landfill is just as important. Same goes for those of us who can’t be denied a daily caffeine jolt. One-time use bottles, cups, and lids are plaguing our seas and shores. Pick up a sustainably produced reusable bottle and cup, like a ceramic beauty made by a local artisan, and enjoy your beverages guilt-free.
- Tampons: About 50% of the world’s population is female, which means that every month there is an enormous amount of waste being produced from menstruation. Ladies, (and the men who support them) make sure you are choosing brands with conscious packaging like paper and cardboard instead of plastic, or opting for a reusable solution like a Diva cup or Thinx underwear.
- Shopping Bags: Aside from maintaining the artistic integrity of American Beauty and Katy Perry, there isn’t much excuse for needing a plastic bag these days, especially not in the developed world. A plastic bag is basically a death trap for marine life in all ways. Have a collection of reusable bags in the house, in the car, in your backpack, anywhere you might need one. The best options really are natural fibres that are organically grown, like cotton or hemp.
- Food Containers: Everyone should be concerned on a daily basis about what their food is prepared, served, and stored in/on. Open that Tupperware cupboard, and count how many plastic containers you own. Now vow to never buy another one again. Glass is so much better for you and for the planet. Opt for multi-use items like jars. Skip the plastic wrap and grab a few biodegradable foods wraps like the ones from Abeego. Make your kitchen healthier and more sustainable!
- Be a Responsible Boater: Boating can be such a fun adventure, but it should also be a reminder that you are encroaching on the habitat of thousands of sea creatures. Be aware of what products you are using to clean and run your boats, take care not to tread on marine life, and follow proper discharge regulations. Those of us ascribing to an Island lifestyle can’t always make a choice about how we travel. We can learn about the green initiatives of the the companies we rely on, engage in conversation, and encourage them to be more conscious of their impacts if needed. For Gulf Islands residents, that means looking at what BC Ferries is doing.
- Make Sustainable Seafood Choices: The easiest way to accomplish this is to say no to putting anything from the ocean on your plate. Otherwise, you need to be mindful of where your food is coming from. Try to opt for local options that have been line-caught or sustainably caught, and avoid supporting exploitative fishing practices.
- Volunteer for an Ocean Clean Up Day: If you haven’t seen a devastating photo of a shoreline covered in plastic debris, it’s probably because you have been avoiding them. Research what kind of ocean clean-up organizations operate in your community. If you can’t find any, start one yourself! Get your peers together and make a difference, even if it is just an annual or one-time event. Take pride in your home!
- Talk! Educate yourself and talk to your friends and family about these kinds of things. Share articles like this, encourage them to make conscious shopping choices. You could make a big difference in the impact from multiple households just by sharing your knowledge.
Knowing what our impacts are and making small daily changes won’t be enough in the long run, but if we can collectively commit to habitually living differently, we might just be able to create the shift we need to start the kind of change our planet needs from us. There are so many bigger underlying issues behind these impacts. We need stakeholders like governments and big business to get on board for the real change to commence. We can do our part now, by making good choices and supporting organizations that are fighting the big fight.
If you are making a difference in your community or even just in your home in a creative way, we want to hear about it! Sharing our individual innovations creates conversation and awareness, and helps us all live more consciously. Tag us or e-mail us!