Sustainable Beach Essentials To Know Before Summer

Sustainable Beach Essentials To Know Before Summer

From synthetic sunscreens that kill coral reefs to the plastic bottles, wrappers, and bags that end up in the ocean, summertime is no day at the beach for the environment or the species we share the planet with. Consider that the nonprofit environmental advocacy group Ocean Conservatory, which organizes beach clean-ups, reported in 2018 that it had collected more than 300 million pounds of trash in the previous three decades. So, while we eagerly await the official start of beach season — with its swimming, sand castles, and volleyball games —  let’s also begin to consider ways we can reduce our environmental impact. Read on for the essential tips and tricks you need to know to be more responsible at the beach.

How can going to the beach be bad for the environment?

From sunbathing and snorkeling to frisbee and volleyball, going to the beach offers plenty of fun and frivolity, but it can also come at a cost, if beach-goers aren’t responsible. That’s because beaches are sensitive environments that support a variety of plants and animals — and carelessness can harm marine life, damage habitats, and pollute waterways.

Some ways in which beach activities can harm the environment include:

Litter and pollution: Help conserve the marine environment by disposing of the trash you bring to the beach. Items like plastic bottles, bags, and food packaging can be easily blown away and swept into the ocean by wind and tides, posing hazards to marine life and ecosystems, as well as contributing to the devastating plastic pollution crisis.

Habitat degradation: Walking on dunes, disturbing coastal vegetation, and encroaching on sensitive habitats can cause erosion and habitat degradation. Straying from designated paths can disrupt fragile ecosystems and contribute to the loss of biodiversity.

Disturbance to wildlife: Activities involving loud noise, bright lights, and excessive human presence can disrupt nesting birds, sea turtles, and other wildlife. This is especially true during nesting and breeding seasons, which can lead to decreased reproductive success and population declines.

Sunscreen pollution: Certain ingredients in sunscreen pose serious risks to aquatic life. The two main types of sunscreen ingredients to watch out for are oxybenzone and octinoxate. When people get in the water wearing sunscreens with these ingredients, the chemicals can wash off their skin and enter the water.

Sustainable beach essentials and tips

Consider changing up your beach bag essentials with these eco-friendly alternatives.

Kinder swimwear

If you want your beach day to have the lowest environmental impact, opt for swimsuits made from eco-friendly materials such as recycled nylon, organic cotton, and ethical production practices. Look for certifications such as Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) or bluesign® to ensure your swimwear meets environmental and social standards. Some brand recommendations include Summersalt, Patagonia, and Youswim.

Reusable beach day items

Bring reusable items such as water bottles, food containers, utensils, and bags to reduce single-use plastic waste at the beach. Pack snacks and drinks in reusable containers and avoid bringing plastic wrappers as these can be whipped away by the sea breeze.

Compile them all in a beach tote made from burlap, organic cotton, hemp, or another green material.

Natural sunscreen

When buying new sunscreen for the upcoming beach season, make sure you are purchasing something reef-safe and biodegradable, free from harmful chemicals such as the aforementioned oxybenzone and octinoxate, which can harm marine life and coral reefs. Look for mineral-based sunscreens containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which provide effective protection without harming the environment. Read more about how to protect your skin from the sun naturally.

Reusable trash bag

It’s always a good idea to bring a small bag to collect any trash you have accumulated during your day at the beach. This sustainable practice will help you ensure you leave nothing behind. Bonus points if you pick up any litter you see along the beach as well.

How to be more eco-friendly at the beach

While enjoying your day out at the beach, here are a few other ways you can practice sustainable living this summer.

Leave a minimal footprint

Minimize your impact on the beach’s natural areas and preserve their beauty for future life by leaving no trace of your visit. Pack out all trash and recyclables and avoid burying or burning waste on the beach. On top of that, leave natural items such as shells, rocks, and sea creatures as they are.

Plastic-free beach cleanup

If you want to take a stand against plastic pollution at the beach, we encourage you to organize or participate in beach cleanup events to help keep shorelines free from litter and plastic pollution.

To take part, bring reusable gloves and bags to collect trash, and separate recyclable items for proper disposal. Beach cleanups are a great way to give back to the environment and protect marine ecosystems this summer beach season.

Support sustainable tourism

If you’re planning a beach vacation, supporting locally owned accommodations and businesses that prioritize sustainability is key. Opt for locally owned options instead of chains whenever possible. These establishments are often more deeply connected to the community and are more likely to prioritize eco-friendly practices.

Before booking, take the time to research the sustainability initiatives of the business. Visit their website or give them a call to inquire about their environmental practices, such as waste management, energy conservation, and the use of eco-friendly materials.

Make the beach season a sustainable one by prioritizing these green practices all summer long. Happy beachin’!


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