Sun, Sea and Sustainability: Looking After Our Coasts And Beaches
Who doesn’t love a day at the beach? There’s something nostalgic, peaceful and truly wild about being by the sea, looking to the horizon across the blue and soaking up the coastal landscape. But there’s no denying that our oceans – like many of our outdoor playgrounds – need our help and protection, especially if we want to take to the waves and soak up the sun for years to come. There’s a way to do all that and still do your bit to protect the planet, though – you just need some expert tips on how.
We probably don’t need to remind you about reducing your carbon footprint, but how you get to and from your chosen destination really matters, even if you’re staying in the UK. Heading to the South Coast for a surfing trip? Car share with friends or take public transport wherever possible. If you can’t resist clear water and white sandy beaches, consider how you can offset your airmiles throughout the rest of the year, so your overall footprint is lower.
There’s more you can do once you’re there, too. Try choosing a destination that allows you to travel around on foot or by bike – you don’t go to the beach to spend half the time in your car anyway! Check out local walking and cycle routes, and bike hire too.
Leave No Trace
It seems simple – don’t leave anything behind. But it’s too easy to let a packet blow away on a windy day, or to think that an apple core or banana skin will biodegrade. Even compostables have a negative impact on the environment if you leave them behind, so be organised and take rubbish bags with you, making sure to separate your compostables, recyclables and non-recyclables so you can properly dispose of them when you get home. While you’ve got your rubbish bags to hand, why not do some litter picking if you see anything lying around? It may not be the most exciting of beach activities but you’ll be really making a difference, especially by doing something that somebody else didn’t.
What To Wear
Carbon offsetting and car sharing are great steps to take, but it helps to make sure the kit you wear makes an impact, too. Choose brands who are actively working to be more sustainable, using less water, recycled or organic materials (particularly plastics), or making changes to their supply chain to improve the environmental impact of their product. Check out brands like Patagonia and Tentree for kit that looks, and does, good.
It goes without saying that human-powered activity has less environmental impact than anything relying on an engine, so choose wisely. Ditch the jet ski and hone your balance on the water with a surfboard or kiteboard instead. Avoid the plastic inflatables and take it back to basics with wild swimming or give stand-up paddle boarding or kayaking a try. And finally, if you’re looking for a bit of seaside zen, take your mat to the water’s edge or simply practice yoga on the sand, with the sounds of the waves to guide your breath.
Stem The Tide On Plastic
It’s no secret that one of the biggest threats to our oceans – particularly wildlife – is plastic. And it’s one thing to avoid it when you’re by the sea and it’s front of mind, but if we want to make a real difference, we have to make a lifelong change in our everyday lives. Make a conscious effort to choose plastic-free options, or if that’s not possible, packaging or product that’s made from recycled plastic. Reuse and recycle everything you can and think about investing in long-lasting plastic alternatives for your adventures, such as reusable drinks bottles, wax food wraps, metal straws or bamboo travel products. These might seem like small changes, but if everyone made them it could have a big impact.
Support Environmental Charities
If you’ve got a few pennies to spare and want to make even more of a difference to our coastal environments, there are plenty of charities doing excellent work to protect our UK waterways and coasts, and the wildlife that relies on those environments for habitat. Even if you can’t offer monetary support, helping to raise awareness will still contribute to their efforts and give others the chance to support them too.
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