Nothing says summer like a trip to the beach. If you’re lucky enough to live within driving distance to the beach or you’re planning a weekend getaway to the nearest coastline, it’s important to keep the environment in mind.
With the perils of ocean pollution and beach destruction gaining attention worldwide, more people are paying attention to their environmental footprints when hitting the beach. Whether or not you take an official plastic-free pledge, there are plenty of ways to make your trip to the beach this summer more eco-friendly.
Here are several tips for planning an eco-minded beach trip with the family.
1. Pack Lunch in Eco-Friendly Containers
When it comes to packing a lunch, using reusable, environmentally-safe containers is a great way to protect the natural wonders — like the sand, water, and wildlife — that you’ll be enjoying at the beach. Not only does this eliminate the amount of waste you’ll produce, but it also saves you from worrying about plastic bags blowing away and ending up in the ocean. This goes for water bottles, too. Bringing enough water for the entire family to drink throughout the day in reusable bottles is key.
2. Use Mineral-Based Sunscreen
Sunscreens that contain the chemical oxybenzone can actually damage coral reefs by triggering “the coral bleaching effect,” which results in reefs losing their vibrant colors and turning white. However, sunscreen application is vital to staying safe in the sun during your day out at the beach, so finding a safe and eco-friendly alternative is a must. Being aware of the ingredients in the sunscreen that you use and choosing one that’s mineral (rather than chemical) based is a healthier option for you and the environment.
3. Don't Collect Shells
If collecting seashells is one of your favorite beach activities, it might be time to find a new game. Surprisingly, this type of innocent collecting can have a serious impact on the environmental functions of shells. Shells not only stabilize beaches and anchor seagrass, but they're also used by shorebirds to build nests and as hiding places for small fish. Instead of taking the shells home as souvenirs, take photos of them instead!
4. Bring Eco-Friendly Beach Toys
If you’re thinking up some fun beach activities for the kids, like building sandcastles or playing beach volleyball, you can find plastic-free toys online that will make for a more eco-friendly day out. Alternative toys that are made with less-harmful materials — such as shovels and pails made from bamboo — can even be biodegradable, which is a much better choice for the beach. In general, buying toys for the beach like inflatable toys and foam noodles is quite wasteful, as these types of items can’t be recycled.
5. Make Sure Nothing Gets Left Behind
This is perhaps the most important tip for having an eco-friendly beach day. Everything that you take to the beach must be taken with you. This way, you don’t have to worry about polluting the beach or adding to the amount of waste produced by other beach-goers. Making sure that you don’t leave anything behind is also a smart way to prevent wildlife from getting sick or injured because of your trash.
When a day at the beach is calling your name, it’s essential to keep the environment in mind as you prepare. To learn more about the ways the sun can impact your health, check out our recent article about sun safety.