World Oceans Day is right around the corner on June 8th! With oceans covering more than 70% of our planet, it’s our responsibility as humans to protect them by committing to safe and sustainable life choices. Here are 5 things kids can do to protect the oceans!
1. Safe recycling. Encourage your kids to be mindful of waste products, always making sure to separate recyclables into their dedicated bins or receptacles. Also, with electronic devices now a huge part of our daily lives, proper disposal of consumer items (like batteries) is more important than ever. Small “recycling hacks” can also make a little bit of a difference towards helping ocean wildlife – for instance, separating the plastic rings that are often found holding beverage cans together. While beneficial to an extent, many of these popular tricks aren’t really long-term solutions. A better option is to purchase products packaged with sustainable materials. Which leads us to…
2. Sustainable choices. Explain to your kids the importance of avoiding single-use plastics and packaging materials. Unfortunately many of these items are harmful to the environment, and it’s a more environmentally responsible option to invest in reusable products. For students, a few great starters are refillable water bottles, washable food containers, and snacks with biodegradable packaging.
3. Consumer habits. Smart shopping can make a big difference, so encourage your kids not to support products that are irresponsibly produced. Avoid items that directly harm ocean life – for example, not using cosmetics and personal care products containing plastic microbeads – or, refusing to purchase jewelry made with coral or tortoise shell. In the real world, money talks – and consumers can make a huge statement using their wallets. Consider that dolphin-safe standards for canned tuna have only existed since 1990. In the years prior, consumers had begun to boycott tuna products sourced from irresponsible and unsustainable fishing practices. Encourage your kids to research the products they use to verify they are eco (and ocean) friendly!
4. Reduce your carbon footprint. Simply making sustainable life choices goes a long way towards both helping the environment and minimizing pollution. This is especially true when it comes to our energy impact! Kids can be mindful of their own energy usage by turning off lights and screens when not needed, using a fan instead of air conditioning (or putting on a sweater instead of cranking the heater), or limiting hot water use. Small changes can make a big difference, and you might even notice a decrease on your electric bill!
5. Beach cleanups. Participating in a beach cleanup is one of the more direct ways that kids can help to protect our oceans. Unfortunately, beaches and shorelines are prone to littering and trash build up. Beach cleanups help to remedy this by removing debris that has washed up onto the shore. These are wonderful community efforts to become involved in that offer valuable leadership and team-building experiences for kids. Older students especially should consider participating, as these types of community service events are highly impressive on college applications. Note: Although beach cleanups may not be possible right now due to health and safety guidelines, keep this suggestion in mind for when public areas begin reopening in your area!