Another Earth Day has come and gone, but instead of showing your appreciation one day a year, show it everyday! This is actually much simpler than you might think, despite all the overwhelming information and dire statistics out there.
Here are 6 easy ways to help the Earth and protect our oceans on a daily basis:
1. If you see trash on the ground, pick it up! Depending on where you live, this could be overwhelming. So instead of picking up all the trash you see, unless of course you can, commit to picking up at least one piece of trash a day and placing it in a proper trash receptacle. For people living along the coast, this prevents one more piece of trash from reaching the ocean. (If a fear of germs prevents you from picking up trash, then carry a kleenex in your pocket to prevent your hand from touching the trash.)
2. Remove flyers, business cards or valet tickets from your windshield before driving away. In Los Angeles, this is especially a problem. Once a car reaches faster speeds, any paper stuck behind the wipers flies away and lands on the ground creating more trash.
3. If you are a dog owner, pick up your dog’s poop. This one seems obvious, but so many dog owners don’t do it. Not only is dog poop disgusting, it can wash into storm drains that funnel everything to the ocean. This means raw, untreated waste is washing into our waterways. (For people living along lakes and rivers, the same thing can happen from runoff, which is even worse for smaller water bodies.)
4. Recycle! But I’m going to add a new twist to the common recycle mantra, which is: Learn all the recycling rules where you live. If you are not familiar with your city’s recycling practices, you could be putting the benefits of recycling at risk. For example, cardboard is recyclable in most cities, BUT greasy cardboard pizza boxes are not. The grease ruins the recycling process. Click here for an article that explains why. In general, any containers that have food on them, are not recyclable, they must be rinsed before being placed in the recycling bin. For people living in the City of Los Angeles here is a link to what you can recycle. If you are unsure of the recycling rules in your area, please contact your local bureau of waste management or city hall.
5. Avoid using plastic as much as possible. Switch to reusable bags for your shopping, no plastic bags! If you are only buying one thing, don’t accept a bag! If you are about to buy something, and one item is packaged in plastic and one isn’t, buy the item that isn’t. Plastic is taking over the world and not in a good way. For people not familiar with our new plastic reality, visit the Algalita Marine Research Foundation and read all about it. This will inspire you to shake your head in alarm when offered a plastic bag, which is really the only acceptable answer at this point.
6. Take time to enjoy Earth’s wonders. If you see a hummingbird, take time to admire its astounding speed and grace. Watch the waves crash on the beach and be amazed by the power and beauty of the ocean. Feeling connected to Earth’s wonders great and small will spur you to action and remind you of the importance of caring for our home, Planet Earth, the only one we have.