The weather is getting warmer and the beach is calling. You pack your towels, snacks, and sunscreen. Chatter about boogie boarding and sandcastle building fills the air. But you arrive at the beach only to find your favorite spot speckled with plastic containers, newspapers, and food wrappers. What's going on? Our ocean provides us with oxygen to breath, drives our climate and weather, brings rain to the farmlands, and food to our table. Our seas offer us recreation, transportation, protein, medicine, energy, and unrelenting beauty. But experts agree, our ocean is in crisis. Luckily, it isn’t too late to make a difference. And your kids can help. David Helvarg, founder of Blue Frontier (www.bluefrontier.org) and author of 50 Ways to Save the Ocean offers parents the following ideas to share with kids who care.
- No litterbugging. When paying the ocean a visit, don’t leave anything behind. This includes food, toys, containers, paper goods, or clothing. Pack your food in reusable containers, and dine with washable utensils and cloth napkins. Reusing items is the best way to learn about sustainability.
- Wear waterproof sunscreen. Don’t be a one-kid oil spill. Greasy, oily sunscreen leaves a residue on everything, including the ocean. This is especially important if your water-lovers are in and out of the ocean and need sunscreen reapplied throughout the day.
- Protect wildlife. Sure, sea stars are beautiful, but they belong to the sea. Curb the desire to bring home souvenirs such as marine life, shells, seaweed, or driftwood. Never chase or feed coastal wildlife. If Fido is along for the ride, leash and distance him from any marine life. Always be sure to clean up after him.
- Stay on the path. Sliding or jumping down sand dunes may be fun for kids, but it’s not fun for the little creatures and plants who call these environments “home.” Walk on the established paths and elevated walkways. Always avoid driving through sand dunes, soft sand, and wetland areas.
- It’s okay to be a snitch. Good stewardship is all about awareness. If you or your kids see someone destroying beach property, marine animal habitats, or dishonoring the environment, report the sighting to local authorities.