It’s no wonder the beach is a popular destination for a family day trip or vacation. Lounging in the sun, splashing in the water, and wiggling your toes in the sand are all such a joy. As fun as a day at the beach is, however, it’s not without the price of environmental impact. Despite all the items you may lug to the beach, many of which produce trash, it’s possible to scale down and reduce your carbon footprint while enjoying your time in the sun. Read on to learn how to keep the beach clean and still be well-equipped for a day of surf and sand.
What Is A Carbon Footprint?
Our carbon footprint makes its mark on the environment in two ways. One way is by directly releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels. The use of cars, airplanes, and generators are examples. Carbon footprints are also made indirectly, in the manufacturing of certain products. Just one pound of plastic, for instance, has a big impact on our environment: it produces up to three pounds of carbon dioxide. Recycled plastics can reduce the carbon footprint of packaging and other items, yet choosing products made with natural materials is a more effective way to reduce your carbon footprint. The following are some things to keep in mind if you’re looking to make your beach trip more eco-friendly:
- Consider a machine-free beach excursion. Reducing our carbon footprint goes beyond reducing the amount of trash we produce. You can do your part by cutting out activities, like Jet Skiing and motorboating, that involve carbon emissions. Instead, consider partaking in some good, old-fashioned snorkeling, kayaking, or taking a nature hike along the coastal cliffs.
- If you don’t live close enough to the beach to arrive on bicycle, try driving the shortest route possible or use public transportation.
- If you enjoy relaxing on the sand while reading, be sure to bring along a printed book, as this will save the battery life of your smartphone or tablet.
When going to the beach this summer, it’s important to not only reduce your carbon footprint but to lessen the amount of waste you create during your visit. Consider making a goal with your family to go completely trash-free at the beach! According to the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup Report of 2017, over three million pounds of trash were found on United States beaches spanning over 8,200 miles. Imagine if we all gave the environment a hand by reducing our trash input at the beach (and beyond, since much of the trash that ends up at the beach is carried there by water runoff and wind from elsewhere). This could save marine animals’ lives and help preserve the natural beauty of our coastlines.
The use of plastic bags can negatively affect the environment as well, and their elimination is key when going trash-free. Plastic bag production alone releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, but even a single bag left at the beach could affect marine life. The best defense against flimsy plastic bags is, of course, to use only reusable ones. Pack your beach items in totes made from cotton or other natural fibers. Instead of sandwich baggies for food, consider reusable cloth pouches or stainless steel containers. Non-disposable water bottles, instead of plastic, are key as well.
Here are a few more ideas to help you go trash-free at the shore:
- Use cloth napkins instead of paper.
- Try this alternative to baby wipes.
- Bring a reusable bag for dirty items.
- Purchase eco-friendly or biodegradable beach toys.
For a sustainable marine environment, be sure to not take home souvenirs from nature. Photos and videos of all the fascinating natural objects and creatures do the trick without harm. Cleaning up any trash you find at the beach is another way to support the beach ecosystem. Kids especially love this activity because they can see the impact immediately. Just be sure to bring a reusable bag and gloves for picking up trash and disposing it.
What are some of your family’s tips for reducing trash at the beach? Share with us on Twitter!
This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.