Our family just returned from our annual week at the Jersey Shore. Nothing recharges us like a day on the beach, listening to the rhythmic sound of the waves, breathing the salty air, and soaking up Vitamin D. However, it’s hard to ignore the shocking headlines about our fragile oceans that are increasingly in peril. So, what can our family do to help the oceans right now? 

Here are 10 simple ways to help the ocean starting today:

1. Use Metal or Glass Water Bottles
Water is an important step to giving your body the hydration it needs, but plastic water bottles often pollute our oceans. By opting for a glass water bottle, it’ll help alleviate the pollution in our oceans, but also saves you money by not buying water. It’s also important to note that most plastic bottles are actually not reusable because they can release toxins from heat, so carrying your water in a glass bottle is healthier for your body as well!

2. Use Metal or Wood Utensils
Also, most fast-food restaurants and food trucks give plastic utensils as a means of easy and cheap clean-up, but it’s doing a lot of harm. Plastic utensils such as plastic straws often get into our oceans, causing massive health problems for our ocean animals.

Our family now brings a backpack with us on just about every outing filled with metal water bottles and a few reusable sporks that we got at a camping store. 

3. Stop Using Styrofoam & Plastic Cups
Hot coffee or tea in the morning is essential for many people, but cutting out the styrofoam cups can help our oceans breathe a little better. Styrofoam is not biodegradable, making it nearly impossible to dispose of it in a safe way. Getting a thermos to fill up with coffee or tea (at home or at a store) can be a painless step that can help our oceans and ocean animals.

4. Bring a Tote Bag
On recent trips outside the country, I noticed that most stores don’t provide plastic shopping bags, and expect you to use reusable tote bags instead. Sounds like a good policy for our country, too! In the meantime, getting a sturdy tote bag can make sure we’re cutting out plastic bags when we don’t need them. Tote bags are affordable and available in an array of sizes, fun prints, and colors to choose from. Be sure to keep one in the car, and have reusable shopping bags ready for trips to the grocery store! 

5. Cut Up Six-Pack Rings & Masks
The plastic that keeps together cans and other drinks may seem like a tiny harmless thing, but our marine and ocean life end up getting stuck in the way too often. If you’re really craving that product and it contains these rings, just make sure to cut them up because it makes sure our animal friends don’t get tangled up in them.

Also, be sure to cut the straps on disposable masks, as people have found a number of seagulls tangled in them

6. Avoid Buying Plastic Packaging
You’ve probably heard about “dead zones” in the ocean consisting of vast seas of plastic garbage. Buying plastic-free packaging can help us cut out ocean pollution. Choosing products that contain easy to recycle packaging such as paper can make sure we’re not consuming a lot of plastic as shoppers. It is also important to note that only 9.5% of plastic is reduced, which means around 90% of our plastic consumption ends up polluting the earth. 

7. Travel the Ocean Responsibly
Make sure to research any cruise, kayak, or boating service before you go on your journey to make sure that the services aren’t harming our oceans. There are many eco-friendly options to choose from, so go on ahead and search!

8. Volunteer: Help Clean Up Beaches!
Does your family go to the beach every summer? The tides often carry debris and waste into the ocean which affects ocean water quality and ocean life. Find out if your favorite beach has any “clean-up” events for volunteers. Volunteering is a great way to strengthen your connection to the beach, and is very rewarding. Helping to clean up the pollution on the beach can also bring a huge impact on our oceans.

9. Support Organizations That Help the Ocean
By donating, helping, or spreading the news, you can help make sure that our ocean is protected. Every bit of help counts and there are tons of ways that a person can help. Do a little research on sites like CharityWatch.org and find a top-rated organization or charity that helps the ocean. 

10. Learn about the Biodiversity of Our Oceans
The world’s oceans contain millions of marine species, but that number is in decline. Learning about biodiversity and what affects oceans is a powerful tool, and it’s also incredibly interesting! 

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