Protecting our waters is extremely important for the well-being of the ocean, the marine life that lives there and all of us. Cleaner coastlines and oceans mean we can continue to enjoy our beaches for swimming, fishing and recreation. That's a big win for everyone! So what can you do to help? You can start at home, or at school, just like the kids in the video did!
Reduce the amount of garbage you make. The less garbage we have on land, inevitably means less garbage ends up in the ocean. You can reduce your garbage footprint by recycling and using recycled materials. Cut down on single-use plastics, use a reusable water bottle, canvas grocery bags, skip the disposable forks and spoons and choose paper over plastic when given the option. It doesn't take much effort to make a big dent in the amount of trash you're sending to the landfill. Buy items that come in less packaging. Have you ever purchased something that comes inside a bag inside a box inside a clamshell plastic case wrapped in shrinkwrap? Choosing to buy items free from unnecessary packaging is an effective way to cut down on waste. Also, your support of companies that package items responsibly could encourage other companies to follow suit. Buy or borrow used items when possible. Humans in general should really think twice about buying so many things. Do we really need them? What if the item you're planning on buying could just be borrowed from a neighbor instead? Or challenge your school to have a "Zero Waste Week" and join hundreds of schools around the country working to reduce waste.
You can help take care of a local stream! Garbage that finds its way into a local stream or river will very likely end up in a larger body of water. Taking care of streams and rivers can include picking up waste, removing invasive species of plants and/or planting trees and other plants native to the area. Getting together with a group to work on a project like this can be fun, and can make a big difference for your community and the marine ecosystems even if you don't live near the ocean. Many schools have environmental clubs and you can even become an Ocean Guardian School too!
Make a difference at a beach near you! Even if you're just visiting for a nice day by the water. Pick up trash others have left behind. Be sure to take all of your trash with you when you leave as well! Also, look online for local efforts to clean-up a local waterway. There may already be a group in your area taking care of the local shoreline. If not, what's stopping you from starting your own?
Change doesn't happen overnight. These things take time. But with small steps, big changes can be made in our environment and in our marine ecosystems. This video highlights some small communities that have made great strides in marine conservation and rehabilitation. Talking to your teacher or members of your community is a great way to start to see if they can help with ideas for your school. For more information and resources related to marine conservation, and National Marine Sanctuaries and Monuments, head to Sanctuaries.NOAA.gov and marinesanctuary.org!