Summer is here, and the coast is calling! Even though you are likely to see lots of white-capped blue water, it doesn’t mean you should stop “thinking green” at the seashore.
This weekend, some friends and I will be hitting my favorite beach (can you tell how much I LUV it?!) just outside of Annapolis, Maryland (Southwest Internship flight privileges for the win!). While this beach on the Chesapeake Bay may pale in comparison to the beaches of Florida or California, it is a beautiful spot.
For the last two years, I spent my spring break camping on this beach to participate in environmental restoration projects. Before we left at the end of the week, we took some time to walk along the beach and pick up trash. Like many of our nation’s waterways, the Chesapeake Bay has a reputation for being polluted, and it’s important to minimize the impact that our outdoor activities have on coastal environments.
If you plan to soak up some sun at the beach this summer, remember these Earth-friendly suggestions:
Pick up trash that doesn’t necessarily belong to you.
Even though you may be doing your part by recycling and throwing away your trash, other beachgoers sadly may not be doing the same. If you see pieces of trash near you on the beach, add them to your trash bag. Mother Nature will give you a big thumb’s up!
Smoke in designated areas only.
Volunteers with the Ocean Conservancy picked up a whopping 2,117,931 cigarette butts along beaches during the 2012 International Coastal Cleanup. Be sure to smoke only in designated areas with outdoor ashtrays.
Consider using biodegradable sunscreen.
When sunscreen washes off our bodies in the water, the chemicals can harm coral reefs and contribute to coral bleaching (when a reef turns white and eventually dies). Check out the Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Sunscreens to determine the best biodegradable options.
Ditch the plastic and bring reusable bottles and bags.
Plastic packaging can also be a huge hazard to animals and marine life. Every year, millions of birds and marine mammals die from ingesting plastic bags. Better leave these items at home, folks.
Take only pictures and leave only footprints.
This one is pretty self-explanatory: take pictures of the beautiful surroundings, but leave nothing else behind but your impermanent footprints. Leave little ocean critters and shells in their natural habitat, clean up trash, and take all of your belongings with you.
Well, I’m off to find some biodegradable sunscreen before this weekend! I don’t want to sport a painful sunburn at work on Monday.
Are you planning to visit any beaches this summer? Let us know in the comments below, or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. DING! You are now free to be green!