Simply by being an informed consumer you can ensure that your purchases donít negatively impact the ocean—or your health.
Everything we buy, use and throw away can in some way affect the health of the ocean. For ways to be a sustainability-savvy shopper—from the seafood we eat to what we use to decorate, power and clean our homes—see the following tips on how you can help keep the ocean and yourself healthy.
Let Your Ocean-Friendly Purchases Support SeaWeb
SeaWeb has partnered with i love blue sea to deliver fresh, sustainable seafood right to your door. i love blue sea is an online marketplace for sustainable seafood products, shipping San Francisco’s freshest seafood anywhere in the lower 48 states. They follow guidelines established by the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch program to ensure that the fish they are supplying is responsibly harvested. Ten percent of the proceeds directed from this link will support SeaWeb's sustainable seafood efforts.
Organic Bouquet's Flowers for Good™ program has partnered with SeaWeb to offer organic flowers from growers dedicated to sustainable business practices. Buy this beautiful bouquet of SeaWeb's Crown Majesty Roses and 5 percent of the purchase price will be donated to SeaWeb.
SeaWeb's online bookstore at Amazon.com has a range of ocean-themed books that are ideal gifts for the ocean lover. If you purchase books or gifts through these links, portions of the proceeds help SeaWeb's conservation efforts.
If you are interested in wearing or displaying pieces of beauty, make sure you're choosing coral-inspired, instead of coral-derived, products. SeaWeb's Too Precious to Wear campaign works with designers who take only inspiration from the ocean. Simon Cardwell, founder of jewelry company Cheeky Monkey Jewelry, is committed to using Earth-friendly materials and resources to create fashionable jewelry that makes a positive environmental statement. Cardwell's Lophelia collection is inspired by precious corals and made entirely out of recycled materials. Ten percent of the sales of the Lophelia collection will be donated to Too Precious To Wear.
Buy and Serve Sustainable Seafood
Seafood Choices works with a number of partners who make sustainable seafood recommendations for consumers when they are dining out or shopping.
If you are a restaurant owner or chef, Seafood Choices provides a number of resources to help you buy and serve sustainable seafood.
If you are a parent and looking for sustainable seafood that is also safe for your children, SeaWeb's KidSafe Seafood has the information you need. A list of Best Choices, ocean and kid-friendly seafood, as well as related information such as U.S. State fish advisories and recipes are available at www.kidsafeseafood.org.
Specific information on farmed species can be found in our Aquaculture Resources.
For more information see What is Sustainable Seafood?
Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
What goes up must come down. Whatever pollution we put into the air eventually must fall out of our atmosphere, and so often ends up in our ocean. Save energy, save money, spare our air and spare our ocean!
Coal-powered power plants provide over half of the total electricity supply in the United States, 70 percent of China's energy supply and roughly 27 percent of the global energy consumption (42 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions). Contributing to mercury emissions, global warming and toxic waste, burning coal is one of the biggest sources of global pollution.
- Hang dry your wash. Clothes dryers are notorious energy consumers, costing both you and the environment.
- Wash clothes in cold water whenever possible, as water heating accounts for the largest use of energy for washing clothes.
- Unplug appliances when not using them.
- Turn off lights when leaving a room. Use energy-saving light bulbs such as compact florescent bulbs (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs), and if you use CFLs that contain mercury, find proper disposal locations. (For more information, go to the Environmental Defense Fund website.)
- Purchase Energy Star energy saving appliances and devices or equivalent appliances outside of the United States.
- Purchase water-saving fixtures and toilets (lots of energy goes into treating water, pumping it to your home and heating it).
- Have an energy audit of your home or business to identify money and energy saving repairs and renovations.
- Use public transportation, share a ride, bike or walk whenever possible. If driving, be efficient when running errands, maintain your vehicle and keep the tires properly inflated to save gas—it will benefit the Earth as well as your wallet.
- Offset your carbon usage through companies and organizations that support clean energy such as NativeEnergy or Carbon Fund (see report by Tufts Climate Initiative for more information). Numerous carbon calculators can be found online, including a new one from University of California, Berkeley, called CoolClimate.
Conserve and Protect Your Water and the Ocean
- Use low-flow showerheads, faucets and toilettes, take shorter showers and repair leaky faucets. A leak that fills an 8 oz. cup in twenty minutes, wastes over 1,600 gallons a year, or 72 8 oz. cups a day.
- Rain barrels or other containers can catch rain running off your roof that can then be used to water your lawn and garden.
- Use natural fertilizers sparingly, pick up pet waste from lawns and fix oil leaks in your vehicle to prevent runoff pollution.
- Use phosphate-free detergents as well as nontoxic cleaning and personal products and donít flush any medicines or other environmentally harmful chemicals, as everything that goes down our drains and pipes eventually can end up in our ocean.
Refuse, Reuse and Recycle
Land-based pollutants account for 80 percent of marine debris. Consider whether you really need something before you buy, buy environmentally friendly products and recycle as much as possible.
Don't buy non-environmentally friendly products or those you don't need. Become an eco-savy shopper and read your labels!
- Many eco-conscious organizations are trying to reduce their ecological footprint, and are proud to show it. Support companies that make an effort to display their use of recycled or recyclable materials.
- Look for environmentally friendly products benefiting the environment and you. Several organizations provide both environmental and health information so you don't contaminate your body or our waterways.
- Buy organic meat and produceóagricultural, animal and chemical runoff pollutes our oceans, rivers and streams.
- Shop at your local farmers market. Locally grown products decrease pollution associated with air, land and ocean travel.
- Look for certification labels: companies that subject their products to outside examination usually have less to hide and hold themselves to higher standards.
The most prevalent form of marine debris are plastics. Reduce your plastic waste by:
- Using reusable grocery bags rather than plastic bags.
- Using reusable water bottles rather than disposable plastic water bottles.
- Avoid purchasing products with excessive amounts of packing.
- Opting out of getting "to go" single use containers.
- Bringing a travel mug to your favorite coffee shop; many offer a discount for using your own mug.
- Bring reusable containers to restaurants for leftovers.
A plethora of organizations offer to do your dirty work for you. In addition, many local governments offer services for their residences to recycle hard-to-handle, hazardous or obscure items.
- To locate a recycling center visit Earth 911 or your local environmental or service department's website.
- Aluminum cans, plastic bottles and glass bottles: Take your old soda cans and bottles to recycling centers or reverse vending machines.
- Batteries: Recycle your used batteries at hazardous waste disposal sites or with companies specializing in battery disposal.
- Books: Programs like cash4books purchase used books for cash. Many thrift stores also accept book donations for resale.
- Car Batteries: Contact the manufacturer; many times they will pay you to return your used battery for parts.
- CDs: Don't contribute to the millions of CDs thrown away each year. Several organizations provide recycling services to dispose of your old CDs for you. Websites such as SecondSpin will buy your old CDs
- Electronics: Currently, 75 percent of old appliances end up in landfills, while more than 85 percent of electronic materials are recyclable. Many websites offer to take your old, unwanted electronics and even pay for them. Sites such as Gazelle, ecycle and buymytronics and others offer cash in exchange for your old electronics.
- Food Wrappers: Terracycle offers cash for bulk collections of your wrappers.
- Ink Cartridges: Some companies offer store credit for bringing in your old printer ink cartridges. Check with your local office supply store.
- Kitchen appliances: Sell, donate, transform, or disassemble for parts old appliances that are unwanted but still functional.
- Lightbulbs: Some companies offer mail in kits to best dispose of your unwanted lightbulbs.
- Motor Oil: Your old motor oil can be refined and recycled to create lubrication oil.
- Pharmaceuticals: Correctly dispose of your old medication or donate your extra medication. Consult with your local pharmacist who may be able to dispose of your unwanted pharmaceuticals for you, or check your state department of Environmental Protection for hazardous waste disposal events in your area. If handling at home, do not flush your pharmaceuticals down the toilet, allowing toxic chemicals into our waterways. Rather, crush them up, dissolve in water and mix with coffee grounds, sawdust, or litter in a sealed bag before you throw them away. For more information, review the White House Drug Policy or the EPA's guidelines.
- Tires: Many autobody shops will take your old tires back and reuse them.
Pick Up Any Trash You Find
© Gavin Parsons
Eliminate ocean pollution directly by participating in beach clean-up events. Take your friends and family to help inspire and encourage the importance of an environmentally friendly lifestyle. In fact, take a garbage bag with you every time you visit the shore so you can pick up any trash you find. By recycling plastic bags and other trash you find, you can prevent sea turtles and marine mammals from mistaking these items for food or getting tangled in them.