Summer is here and so it’s time to get tanning, hit the waves, or if you’re me it’s time to read while getting a sunburn. But however you enjoy the beach, know that there are ways to take your much needed weekend retreat while doing good for the environment. Here are 6 quick tips to get you started.
Choose a Sustainable Location
The first tip is to vote with your dollar. If you don’t have the luxury of choosing a beach other than whichever is nearest or most convenient, that’s fine. But if you have the ability to shop around a bit, always be sure to prioritize sustainability. This could mean either choosing a hotel that’s known for its sustainability or seeing which beach communities are committed to sustainability. Be sure to also make sure who is profiting from the beach trip, and make sure enough money is going to the local community who lives there, and understand who needs it. For example, one of the survivors from the Parkland High School shooting called for people to take their Spring Break trips in Puerto Rico in part because the island is still recovering from last year’s hurricane and can use the tourism money. However you choose to help, there are ways to do good through your choices.
When most people think about sustainable clothing, they’re often thinking about the clothing they wear daily. But your beachwear can be sustainable too. There is a whole world of swimwear that’s sustainably made (as well as cute). Your weekender bag, your sandals, and even your sunscreen can all be chosen with sustainability in mind. Vacation might be the time to take a break from the stresses of life, but you don’t have to take a break from supporting sustainable fashion too.
The zero-waste lifestyle of bringing your reusables with you of course applies to the beach trip as well. Utensils, cloth napkins, water bottle, your trusty mason jar, etc. While travelling it’s much easier to fall into the trap of quick convenience plastic and disposables, some more underdeveloped areas don’t have the infrastructure to handle pollution so being extra cautious is needed. Say no to straws, eat at restaurants instead of food carts to help avoid plastic waste (or check and see if they can put the food in one of your reusable containers, cause food carts are delicious), bring a bunch of water ahead of time to avoid needing to buy plastic bottles especially if you are concerned about water safety, and so on. Bring your own solid shampoo, soap and conditioner to the hotel as they’re automatically “travel-sized” and reduce waste.
We’ve talked about it before, but Plogging is one of our favorite new trends. It’s a Swedish term that combines the word for jogging with the term “plocka upp,” which means to pick up, and so the idea is to pick up litter as you run. Thousands of people love their morning beach jog, so why not help leave the beach better than when you found it while there. Trash in the ocean, especially plastic, is a huge problem so you can consider your vacation time as an opportunity to tackle the problem of ocean plastic head on.
Avoid beach fires/lights during nesting season
This next tip is location specific as it refers to areas that are home to sea turtle nesting sites, such as Florida in the US. Sea turtle nesting season runs during the summer months and the beginning to middle of fall. The issue is that sea turtle babies navigate to the ocean through following the moonlight and starlight reflecting off of the ocean. So human made night lights in these areas confuse the turtles, sending them towards the houses and the fires instead of the ocean. Something as simple as turning out the beach facing lights at night can go a long way.
Let the wildlife stay wild
Beach vacations are a great chance to experience nature and see the wildlife, which is always an amazing experience. But you need to remember that wild animals need to be left alone, and any interaction can be bad. Feeding wild animals trains them to see humans as a food source, which can easily put them in harm's way by not fearing hunters, having them wander too close to airports or roads, or become pests for the locals. Large congregations of fed animals can also spread diseases quickly, and often the human food isn’t even healthy for them in the first place. And please please please never touch coral.