Doing what we can today to protect the planet for tomorrow is one of our top priorities at Childrensalon. We can all take small actions to reduce our carbon footprint, which can take many forms, from reducing our food waste to shopping more consciously. When we think of the climate crisis, we often think of the melting polar ice caps or deforestation in the Amazon, but there is another place under attack; the ocean.
The ocean covers more than 70% of our beautiful planet and is one of the biggest carbon sinks on earth (meaning it removes carbon from the atmosphere), and it provides us with over half of the oxygen we breathe. Like on the land, the ocean has a balanced ecosystem, but plastic pollution and overfishing have played a part in disrupting that balance. Individual efforts may seem futile, but collective action can lead to enormous changes. Both at home and at the seaside, there are many things we can do to protect the future of the ocean, its beaches, and its inhabitants.
What can we do at home?
Be mindful when shopping for clothes, and wash your clothes sustainably
Did you know that some fabrics release microplastics when washed? These microplastics ultimately end up in the ocean, where they can cause harm to sea animals. Polyester and other plastic-based fabrics are the most common culprits - you can read our post about clothing materials to learn about sustainable fabric choices. Of course, if you already own these items, you don't need to throw them away where they could end up in a landfill. Instead, wash your clothes in a microfilter washing bag, like the Guppyfriend Washing Bag, to catch all those nasty microplastics so they don't end up in the sea.
Reduce plastic consumption
Reducing our plastic consumption is sometimes easier said than done, and the key thing to remember is that you're not aiming for perfection but, instead, you are looking to make more conscious choices. The more people that stop purchasing items packaged in single-use plastic, the better. If collectively the demand for single-use plastic goes down, companies will hopefully stop producing so much of it, and less will end up in the ocean. Some items on your shopping list will be more difficult than others, but remember, it's not about achieving perfection.
Support charities working towards cleaner beaches and oceans
Careful what you flush!
It seems insignificant, but it all adds up! Wet wipes, dental floss, sanitary products, and cotton pads (unless you are sure they are 100% cotton) belong in the bin. Hair, 100% cotton pads and other natural fibres can go in your compost bin. However, you can remove the need for many of these things with some simple swaps:
- Swap plastic-based dental floss with natural, biodegradable, compostable floss.
- Replace disposable cotton pads with reusable cotton pads.
- There are many reusable sanitary products available, such as menstrual cups and period underwear. These reusable options aren't for everyone, and swapping to plastic-free tampons is also a positive step.
Reduce your consumption of fish
Overfishing is disrupting the balance of the ocean's ecosystem. By reducing our consumption, we can reduce demand and force change through our shopping habits.
What can we do at the beach?
Wear reef-safe SPF when going swimming
Some sunscreens contain harmful chemicals that damage the coral reef and, when swimming in the sea, it's a good idea to opt for reef-safe SPF. Luckily, these are reasonably easy to come across with some planning and a bit of research.
SPF swimwear and beach clothes will offer plenty of protection for children when worn in combination with a high factor reef-safe SPF. You can read more about sun safety here.
Take everything you brought to the beach away with you
If the bins are overfull, or there are no recycling bins, take your rubbish away with you and recycle it at home. Aim to bring no single-use plastic to the beach at all if you can.
Pack a zero-waste picnic
You can reduce the need for single-use plastic by packing a picnic with reusable picnic plates and cutlery. Reduce your food waste at the same time by following these tips for a zero-waste picnic from @triplets_in_my_kitchen.
Look after the local wildlife
Although it may be tempting, don't feed the local wildlife! There is a balanced ecosystem, and it's best to leave undomesticated animals to fend for themselves.
It's also important to be mindful of anything you dispose of at the beach. Both face masks and plastic can rings (those plastic rings that hold cans of drink together) should be cut up before disposing of them, as animals and sea birds can get caught in the loops.
Volunteer to do a beach clean
Some of the team at Childrensalon recently took part in one of the Million Mile Clean events coordinated by Surfers Against Sewage, which was great fun, and many charities are organising similar beach clean events all over the world!
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