Summer is finally here, and after that long winter, we all need a few days at the beach. Going to the beach doesn’t have to be bad for the environment. You can take your green lifestyle to the beach with you.
Here are five tips to help you have the best day at the beach while still being eco-friendly.
Skip The Plastic
If you’re packing a picnic, it’s tempting to choose items that are in disposable packaging so you don’t have a lot of dirty dishes to haul home, but to be eco-friendlier, try to keep plastic off the beach. Anywhere from five to 13 million pounds of plastic end up in the oceans every single year. Even if your sandwich wrappers or zip lock bags don’t seem like much, they’re all part of a much larger problem, and skipping the plastic packaging can help make the problem a little smaller.
Clean Up The Beach
One good rule of thumb for eco-friendly beach trips is to clean up, but don’t just clean up the stuff that you bring with you. Every time you go to the beach, pick up three pieces of trash per person that you find on the beach. Just three — you don’t have to clean up the entire beach but if everyone picked up three pieces of trash when they went to the beach, it could go a long way towards creating a cleaner environment.
Stay for A While
If you’ve got a good mental state, making the rest of your life a little eco-friendlier can be a little simpler. Going on a camping or glamping trip to the beach can help make you a happier and less stressed individual. Forty-five percent of camper’s report that a successful camping trip helps to reduce their stress levels, and 39 percent believe that camping improves their overall health.
You don’t have to leave all the comforts of home behind — glamping, or glamour camping, is a great way to enjoy the beach or the great outdoors while still enjoying the comforts that you’re accustomed to, like electricity, indoor plumbing and air conditioning.
Choose Your Sunscreen Carefully
Hawaii recently passed a law that banned sunscreens that contain chemicals that could damage the native coral reefs that surround the island state. Even if these sunscreens aren’t banned in your state, choose your skin protection carefully so you don’t have a sunscreen that leaches chemicals into your skin or into the water while you are swimming. Avoid sunscreens that contain the chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate. Protecting your skin is important, but so is protecting the oceans.
Stick To The Path
Beaches are a great place to spend your time, but they are a natural habitat for a variety of different plants and animals. Stomping over the dunes to get to the water might sound nice, but your footprints can damage the delicate ecosystems and lead to beach erosion. If your beach has dunes, stick to the paths. They’ll still get you where you need to go without damaging the plants and animals that live there.
There’s nothing quite like a trip to the beach, so if you’re looking for something to do this summer why not take your eco-friendly lifestyle with you while you enjoy the waves? You’ll have just as much fun and Mother Earth will thank you. Just focus on picking up after yourself and keeping plastic off the beach and you’ll be able to enjoy those waves for years to come without worrying about being drowned in garbage or plastic waste. There’s enough plastic in the ocean already — we really don’t need to add more to it!
Emily is a freelance writer, covering conservation and sustainability. You can read her blog, Conservation Folks, for more of her work.