Clean sea versus polluted sea. It goes without saying whose side we travelers are on. But just being on the right side is not enough, on the contrary. Actively doing something against pollution is essential. But what? We asked our partner OceanCare what every traveler can do to protect our seas. And on top of that there is background information.
Tip 1: Avoid single-use plastic
Every year around nine million tons of plastic waste end up in the oceans. So that this number doesn’t get any bigger, you can:
- Take a reusable bottle with you and fill it up with tap water. Sure, that’s not always possible. Then either prefer large water containers or filter / boil water.
- Generally go shopping with reusable bags. And take a so-called veggie bag with you for fruit and / or vegetables, which is available, for example, in the OceanCare shop
- Drink cocktails and other drinks only by the glass, avoid plastic drinking straws and generally avoid disposable dishes.
- Take soap with you instead of shower gel wrapped in plastic.
- Pay attention to cosmetic products without microplastics.
- Choose travel clothing made from natural fibers. When washing clothes made of polyester, nylon and acrylic, the smallest fibers, so-called microfibers, loosen and they get into the environment via the sewage.
Tip 2: lend a hand with «beach cleaning»
Around eighty percent of the garbage comes from the mainland and gets into the sea via sewers and rivers or through wind drifts. Hundreds of thousands of dolphins, whales, seals and turtles fall victim to plastic waste, and the number of sea birds that have died runs into the millions. The animals starve to death with their stomachs full of plastic or drown because they get entangled in plastic parts.
- Collect carelessly discarded plastic waste and dispose of it properly.
- Help with an organized “beach cleaning”. (For example, ask in your accommodation, in your dive center, etc.).
- How about you initiate your own cleanup? Maybe with other travelers and true to the motto: Leave the beach cleaner than you found it.
Tip 3: When it comes to fish and seafood, let your culinary sense prevail
The abundant fish offer in shops and restaurants is deceptive. Almost everywhere today more fish are caught than can regrow. Fish from farms are not a real alternative either. The following we can specifically contribute to protecting marine life:
- Basically, just no fish consumption is sustainable. But if you don’t want to do without sea fish or seafood while traveling: make sure that the animals come from sustainable catches.
- Prefer local fish. For example, eating salmon in the Maldives is ecological nonsense.
- Stay away from endangered fish species such as swordfish, monkfish or tuna (six of the eight tuna species are considered endangered).
Tip 4: choose sun protection wisely
Thousands of tons of sunscreen get into the water every year. Many sunscreens contain chemicals that destroy coral reefs even in low concentrations. Basically there are two types of sun creams: physical (inorganic, mineral) or chemical (organic) protective filters. The particularly problematic chemicals are octinoxate and oxybenzone. Both are banned in Hawaii. Micro- and nanoplastic particles are also often found in sunscreens.
- Choose sun creams made from natural cosmetics with mineral UV filters. Here you will find a list with a selection
- If you want to do without sun cream at all, protect yourself with clothing or prefer shady spots.
Tip 5: Avoid wildlife shows
When traveling, many people wish to come into contact with wild animals. It is precisely the image of dolphins as petting animals, who playfully seek out our society, tempting more and more people to touch the animals or want to swim with them. The consequences for these highly sensitive animals, which are disturbed and stressed by these interactions, are forgotten.
- Basically: no swimming with dolphins.
- Research trips or respectful whale watching = yes
- Dolphinarium visit = No.
- Also avoid riding elephants, going to the circus with wildlife, visiting fur farms, bullfighting, etc.
Tip 6: treat nature (underwater) with respect
Animals don’t like to be in the spotlight all the time, they also need rest. Direct interactions can be particularly disruptive.
- Enjoy the beauty of the marine world while snorkeling and diving without touching corals, shells or marine animals.
- Refrain from noisy water sports.
Tip 7: Steer clear of problematic souvenirs
Ornaments (and also wooden objects) are often stolen from nature under dire and harmful circumstances. In addition, the import of whale products (including checked baggage or hand luggage) into the EU, the USA or other countries contradicts both national and international law and can lead to criminal prosecution. For the reasons mentioned, avoid souvenirs such as corals, shells, hair accessories made of tortoiseshell, souvenirs made of whale products, carvings made of rare woods, etc.
Tip 8: Compensate for CO2 emissions
When traveling over shorter distances, choose the train if possible. Cruise ships are particularly harmful because they contribute to the pollution of the seas with cheap heavy fuel oil. Ship noise also disturbs the orientation of marine animals. When traveling, in particular, it is difficult to prevent an increase in the CO2 footprint. Nevertheless, we can all contribute to climate protection by offsetting unavoidable emissions with climate protection measures.
- Compensate for the CO2 emissions of your flight or car journey via myclimateor directly from the Globetrotter travel advisors.
- Support the “Plant for the Planet” tree-planting campaign and contribute to climate justice
We are convinced that we are all well equipped with these valuable tips from OceanCare and that we are doing one or two good things for our planet – be it at home or while traveling. Speaking of travel.