Sometimes I watch all of these big organizations doing so much good for the environment, by utilizing researchers and spending thousands of dollars on campaigns to receive donations to promote ocean conservation. I think to myself “What good am I doing? I’m just one person and I don’t have a degree in Marine Biology or Environmental Science. How would I be of any help?”
Do you ever feel helpless in that area? Being so passionate for ocean life, and discovering so many areas where we can harm the environment, I decided to research ways that we can help make a bigger impact as a whole, and not need a degree or money for it.
DONATE YOUR TIME
Several organizations are looking for volunteers willing to spend their time on educating others in ocean conservation, and you don’t necessarily need to have a degree to do it. I’ll give an example. The Chesapeake Bay foundation was one of the volunteer opportunities I came across, as it’s not too far from where I live. They have advocacy programs where you can contribute in the following ways: You can sign up to be an ambassador in your community where you can become involved in petition signing, rallying, emailing or calling public officials to discuss clean water programs for not only the bay, but also rivers and streams that feed into it.
In addition to education, you can also participate in field work that needs to be done, such as the restoration of underwater grasses, streams and shoreline. Most organizations have an annual or monthly “Clean the Beach Day” that you can sign up for, which would more than likely involve spending a day removing trash from the beach or even the water itself.
Check out your closest Aquarium for volunteer opportunities also! Some of these involve more hands on experience assisting directly with marine animals, but others can be as simple as helping out in the Gift shop. You will also find opportunities for tour-guiding and organizing events. Be sure to do your research first when it comes to aquariums. It’s always great to find one that works with rehabilitation of marine life, rather than captivity.
PURCHASE FROM SUPPORTING BRANDS.
Spend some time to research local shops near you that donate a portion of their proceeds to companies that help conserve the ocean. A couple of big name companies that you may not be aware of are Wholefoods and TOMS. Here are a few others that may not be as familiar with:
Sand Cloud is a clothing company dedicated to quality products and big purpose. They donate 10% of your merchandise purchase to conservation companies, as well as utilize recycled plastic bottles to make t-shirts, towels and more.
4Ocean helps to clean the seas by removing trash and assisting affected marine life. They make bracelets out of plastic found in the ocean, and each bracelet helps to pick up 1 lb of trash.
Waterlust is another apparel company that focuses on education by using film and photography. They also take 10% of their profits and donate to ocean conservation companies.
United by Blue is a clothing and travel gear brand. For every product that you purchase, they remove 1 lb of trash from the ocean and waterways.
RECYCLE & REUSE
I’ve come to learn that recycling can be a challenging task, especially with how many mixed plastics that are being made now. It has become so convenient for us to use items that can impact our oceans negatively, but there are ways that you can help.
Bring your own items! Reuseable cups, straws, utensils, and bags should all be items that you carry or keep in your car. It’s not as hard as it seems. It may take you a while to remember to do this every day, but once you do, it then becomes habit. Think of all the sea turtles you could save just by not using single use plastics!
Educate yourself on what can and cannot be recycled. I continue to do this every day when I am unsure. Did you know that different numbers on recycling labels mean different things? For the most part, all #1 and #2 recycling labels can be recycled. I’ve found that some places do not accept #4 and #5 items. Be sure to check your local county recycling center/ dump to see if they accept these. Most recyclable items are some form of glass, plastic, aluminum, cardboard or paper.
Did you know that you can also volunteer at your local recycling center? Be sure to check your local community recycling center for clean up events, collections and drop offs.
How do you contribute to conserve the Ocean? Comment below!