Earth’s oceans cover more than 70 percent of the entire planet, so they are an important part of the ecosystem. Many species live in the oceans, and they rely on the ocean for food and everything else needed to survive. The oceans are in dire need of help, though. It might seem like one person can’t do much to save the oceans, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with this task. But if everyone does their part to help the oceans, it’s possible to make a huge difference. Look at many of the choices you make every day. It might surprise you to learn things you can change that will have a positive impact on the oceans both now and for future generations.
- Conserve Water: When everyone commits to using less water, there is less excess runoff, and wastewater won’t flow into the oceans. Wastewater is whatever water goes down the drain in your house. This water goes to a nearby sewage treatment plant for treatment. When we conserve water, these systems aren’t overloaded. Older sewage treatment plants are at risk of being overwhelmed, especially during times of peak water use. This could cause a discharge of water that’s only been partially treated.
- Reduce Pollutants: Use products that contain nontoxic ingredients instead of toxic chemicals. Always dispose of any chemicals that you use properly. Ocean pollutants include harmful substances like debris, industrial waste, and oil. Chemical pollutants can build up in the ocean, causing harmful algae to bloom, which hurts fish and plants.
- Reduce Waste: Watch the amount of trash you throw away, and reduce it when possible. Plastic pollution is one of the top threats to overall ocean health. It’s estimated that between 4 and 12 million metric tons of plastic end up in the oceans every year. Plastic pollution harms many animals that live in the ocean, and it harms beaches and coastlines, too. Stop using single-use plastics, and recycle the plastic you use.
- Shop Wisely: Pay attention to the foods and other items you buy to reduce your negative impact on the oceans. Buy products that use plastic-free alternatives. Always choose sustainable seafood that has been pole- and line-caught or farmed with sustainable methods. And bring your own reusable grocery bags to the store instead of using single-use plastic bags.
- Reduce Vehicle Pollution: Choose a fuel-efficient vehicle to drive. Cars that are more fuel-efficient mean fewer greenhouse gas emissions. These emissions trap heat, causing ocean temperatures to rise. Oceans can also become more acidic as they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which hurts sea life and corals. Electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles are two options for efficient driving. Drive less if possible; walk, ride a bike, carpool with friends, or use public transportation instead. When you do drive, consolidate your trips to drive fewer miles.
- Use Less Energy: Consider the energy you use in your home and look for ways to use less. Switch to energy-efficient light bulbs, and turn off lights when you’re not using them. Be prudent about where you set your thermostat in both the winter and the summer. Wear an extra layer in the winter, and use ceiling fans in the summer.
- Fish Responsibly: Fishing is a fun sport, but it’s best if you catch and release instead of taking fish with you. When you unhook the fish and release it back into the water, you’re keeping more fish alive to reproduce. Overfishing has reduced the number of fish in the oceans, which harms oceanic ecosystems.
- Practice Safe Boating: Watch where you anchor a boat; always anchor in sandy spots that are far away from sea grasses and coral. Anchoring on corals and in sea grass beds will damage these areas, which are home to many marine animals. Observe no-wake zones carefully, too. No-wake zones are areas with strict speed limits, often in place to protect wildlife habitats.
- Respect Habitats: When you’re near the ocean, respect these natural habitats to help preserve them. Don’t disrupt wildlife in their natural habitats. Leave nothing behind after your visit to the ocean, including all trash.
- Volunteer to Help: Get involved with projects to protect and assist the oceans. Work on cleanup crews at the beach to pick up trash. Share what you know about ocean conservation with people you know. And sign petitions for initiatives designed to conserve oceans.
Additional Resources for Protecting Our Oceans