2018 is here which means we can now use an arbitrary point in time as a reason to hit the reset button, and commence on a new and more positive behavioral pattern. Okay, that was a bit harsh, but PSA: these resolutions may be enacted at any point in time and in any combination.
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1. Stop using plastic bags. Yes, I had to begin with a cliche and no I won’t post any pictures of strangled sea turtles because I’m not a masochist. I stopped using plastic bags when I started having to do my own grocery shopping in college. From time to time I’d still end up at the store without my reusable bag. Make a plan. Now that almost never happens because I keep a handful of reusable bags in my car, and if I arrive via bike, I only buy what can fit in my backpack.
2. Ride a bike. Find at least one commute a week that you can convert from being a drive to a bike ride. Maybe it’s your Saturday soccer pick-up game. Or casual Friday at work. Choose a commute and stick with it, weather permitting. If a bike is not in the cards for you, consider public transportation or organizing a carpool with a friend.
3. Explore a beach. Take your friend, cousin, aunt, uncle, brother, child, anyone with you. If you don’t have a close beach (i.e. landlocked) maybe consider a beach for your next vacation or take them on a virtual tour of a beach. You can even virtually snorkel the Great barrier reef these days via google maps. The more people that become inspired by the ocean, the more likely we will see policy changes to protect them.
4. Contact your government. Voice your concern about a particular beach, marine species, marine sanctuary, or fishery. Ask what is being done to protect those resources. If this sounds daunting, perhaps start by contacting an NGO whose cause is ocean minded.
5. Volunteer for a non-profit. You don’t have to be near an ocean to do this, and still have positive impacts on the ocean. All streams, rivers, and estuaries lead to sea. Working on sustainable housing, decreases pollution and makes our oceans and earth a cleaner place.
6. Join a citizen science project. I worked on a couple of these during my undergraduate years, and they are super easy and a great activity for the whole family. NOAA (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association) has a national (United States) wide phytoplankton monitoring network. This project allows you to monitor for harmful algae species (as little as once a month) and your data is used by real scientists!
7. Make sustainable seafood choices. I’ll be the first to admit that this one can definitely be a challenge . If there’s anything I’ve learned about making sustainable seafood choices, it’s that striving for the BEST choice IS MAKING A DIFFERENCE. So don’t be too hard on yourself. Like anything else on food labeling, the information you are trying to find often isn’t obvious. Give yourself time to learn how to be a more educated consumer. Luckily, resources like Monterrey Bay Aquarium’s seafood watch list is updated every year and can be downloaded as a mobile app.
8. Make a donation. Not everyone is in a position to do this, but if you are please consider it. There are many great organizations, aquariums, and educational programs that would turn your gracious gesture into real ACTION. If you have children, there are some organizations that make your donation a more interactive experience. For example, the WWF allows you to “adopt” a plush-toy endangered species. The blank allows you to blank and sends a news letter about blank.
9. Become an advocate. There are many ways to become an advocate for the ocean. In fact, everything on this list is a viable option. However, one of the easiest ways is to do so via social media. Many of us are regulars on our social media platform of choice. Example: For every three food related videos you share, try sharing one ocean related video. Make up a rule like this that suites your social media behavior and try following your favorite ocean minded organizations.
10. Take only what you need. Whether this be plastic packaging, paper handouts, or frankly anything that involves using energy because at the end of the day CO2 emissions are arguably the largest threat to our seas. Although it seems obvious, it’s easy to fall into habits of taking more than you need. But perhaps with some mindfulness, this could also be the easiest to implement of all of the resolutions.
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Aside from being a natural beauty, a holiday destination, or a source of recreation, the oceans supply many necessitous resources.