We should be doing more to preserve the 'lungs of our planet' by investing in cleaner energy and reducing our plastic pollution.
We can't all be named Cousteau. Nor do we all have a wetsuit, expertise in oceanography, photography and other impressive talents.
Yet no matter our name or our abilities, each and every one of us can make a difference when it comes to protecting our oceans.
In celebration of World Oceans Day on June 8, let's re-commit to being part of the movement to build a more sustainable future. As Jacques-Yves Cousteau once compellingly said, "For most of history, man has had to fight nature to survive; in this century, he is beginning to realize that, in order to survive, he must protect it."
World Oceans Day was first introduced in 1992 to raise awareness of the crucial role the sea plays in interconnecting all life forms on Earth and encourage marine conservation. The day became even better known in 2008 when the United Nations passed a resolution officially designating the day and calling on the international community to work together for oceans protection.
The Earth's oceans are "the lungs of our planet, providing most of the oxygen we breathe, [as well as] a major source of food and medicines and a critical part of the biosphere," the U.N. resolution explained, pointing to the worrisome increase in ocean pollution, overfishing, acidification related to global warming, commercial exploitation of marine habitats and many other degrading pressures on the oceans.
Thankfully, the tides are turning and humanity is now striving to save – with acts big and small – what we once sought to destroy. Nevertheless, sometimes it's hard for the layperson to know where to start when tackling such an immense problem as oceans conservation, so the organizers of World Oceans Day try to make the day accessible by suggesting easy actions that can make a positive difference.
"We support people getting involved on whatever level they can handle, but we especially encourage people to do something measurable for the ocean," the nonprofit group explained.
Here are the top ideas for action of World Oceans Day:
Celebrate the sea. As marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols explains in his new book "Blue Mind," humans share a special emotional connection with the sea. Neuroscience and human experience shows us that being near the ocean or in the ocean is a transformative experience. So go to your nearest seaside and renew your love of our oceans, thereby fueling your motivation to take steps towards ocean conservation.
Reduce plastics pollution. Many people don't realize that Earth's largest landfill isn't on land at all. Each year, three times as much rubbish is dumped into the world's oceans as the weight of fish caught. An immense collection of plastic debris has accumulated for hundreds of miles across the North Pacific Ocean in a marine gyre dubbed the The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Marine life is accidentally eating the plastic as well as getting entangled in the plastic, resulting in injuries and death. Make a choice to choose plastic-free products that will help reduce the perils of plastic on our oceans. (Some ways to go plastic-free include the Blue Water Bento Kit by ECOlunchbox, bamboo kitchen utensils, glass straws and other items made from natural materials.)
Sustainable seafood. Use your influence as a consumer to make a real difference! Grocery stores and restaurants have the power to influence how sustainable seafood is fished or farmed, so support those that make the right choices. The Seafood Watch app for your smartphone makes it easy to make good choices and find businesses committed to sustainable seafood. Show your love of the oceans and your local sustainable seafood purveyors by posting on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram with the big thank-you and tagging them so they know you appreciate them!
Wear Blue, Tell Two: On June, show your love of the oceans by wear blue clothing – and sharing two ocean conservation facts with someone in your community.
Clean energy. You can help reduce carbon pollution that is harming our ocean and resulting in marine acidification. Inspire your community of friends and family by using your bike instead of driving, planting a tree, unplugging your unused electronics, choosing renewable power – to keep our coral reef and other ocean friends safe. Share your excitement that’s you’re going green for our Big Blue by telling your community about what you’re up to!
Clean coasts. Sign up to join a coastal clean-up or other World Oceans Day 2014 event. Often pollution is entering the oceans from the land masses – or being washed up by currents along shorelines. Either way, removing the debris from the coastlines reduces oceans pollution and helps people and animals who rely on the ocean everywhere.
Sandra Ann Harris loves the oceans and recently took a sabbatical in the Pt. Reyes National Seashore to celebrate her love of the Big Blue. She founded ECOlunchbox to help families reduce their dependence on plastics by providing high-quality, plastic-free lunchware solutions, such as her the newly released Blue Water Bento Kit, which aims to educate families about the perils of plastic and empower them to make plastic-free choices.