It’s been forty-six years since earthlings celebrated the very first Earth Day. We’ve come a long ways righting the wrongs we’ve inflicted on the earth and sea, but, oh, how far we have to go!
The problems that still lie before us seem almost insurmountable, but we must remember the harm wasn’t caused in one year or one century. I’m confident if each of us does just a little something in his corner of the earth, that earth, sea, and sky can rebound magnificently.
Here are a few things you might consider doing where you live. You don’t have to do them all. Start with one or two. It might feel so good, you’ll want to try a few more:
- Visit websites that will open your eyes to the beauty and wonder of the sea.
These are just a few. There are many more worthwhile ones besides these.
The Blue Ocean Institute at www.blueocean.org
World Wildlife Fund at worldwildlife.org
Sea Shepherd at www.seashepherd.org
Greenpeace at greenpeace.org
Ocean Conservancy at www.oceanconservancy.org
Friends of the Earth at foei.org
Global Coral Reef Alliance at www.globalcoral.org
- Consider joining an environmental group. You’re familiar with some of the bigger ones. Write a check. You don’t have to give them all your money and end up like a naked Sadhu wandering the forests of India, but it’s not going to hurt to give a little.
- Do an impromptu beach clean-up any day of the year. Earth Day shouldn’t be for just one day. Earth is your neighborhood; take pride in it.
- Implement your own “Carry on, Carry off” policy when you go to the beach or a park. Assume that if you leave your trash in one of the receptacles, some of it is going to end up in the water where it will do a lot of harm to the local denizens that live there.
- Be more conscious of chemicals you use in your home. Many harsh cleaning agents can be substituted with natural ones that break down in the environment with little harm.
- Consider curtailing your use of weed killers and strong fertilizers in your garden. They all end up in the sea where they wreak havoc. I’m the first to admit sometimes a potent weed killer is the only way to eliminate a terribly stubborn or invasive plant. But be aware that overdoing it is very, very bad and comes at a terrible price.
- Use natural pesticides in your garden for the same reason. Gardens Alive is a terrific company that offers a host of natural products that work extremely well. Find out all about the products they offer at www.gardensalive.com.
- If you haven’t done so already, switch from plastic bags to canvas or cotton or some other reusable bag. Mother Ocean will thank you. The sea turtles who mistake plastic bags for jelly fish will thank you. And remember to keep a couple extra ones in your car so they’re always available.
- Buy your fish from companies that practice sustainable fishing. I hate to be an alarmist, but studies show that the rate we’re fishing our oceans, we’re going to be out of fish in less than fifty years unless we change our attitude and behavior. To learn more about this go to Marine Fish Conservation Network at conservefish.org.
- I’ve written about acidification before. The gas and oil we’re burning in our homes, factories, and vehicles produce carbon dioxide which ends up in the ocean even if your name is Dorothy and live in Kansas. This affects shellfish, coral, and all kinds of species of fish. Be conscious of your carbon footprint. No one says you have to live like a monk, but would it really hurt you to set you AC two degrees higher in the summer? And wouldn’t it be nice if more people grouped their errands and spewed less carbon dioxide in the air?
- Boaters, divers, and kayakers who are so in tune with nature can help too. Many are already sensitive to the impact they have on the lakes, rivers and sea they play on. Watch where you drop anchor. Avoid environmentally sensitive areas while kayaking or diving. Never throw garbage into the water. You’re in someone else’s living room when you go out on the water so behave yourself.
- If you’re a fisherman, be careful of discarded lines and hooks. They’re likely to end up in some creature’s mouth or stomach, bringing a slow and agonizing death. And when you leave the beach or lake, leave nothing but your footprints behind. If you’re a smoker, remember to leave with all your butts not just the one in your pants.
- To remind you to recycle seems almost silly. But besides plastic, cans, and glass, have you thought about those big chunks of cardboard from box stores, or newspapers, phone books, paint, and batteries. And just what do you do with those plastic bags from the store? Most grocery stores have a container on the premises where you can deposit them. If they don’t have one, encourage them to start. They’re members of the community too.
- Don’t waste water. I’m not saying you should shower with a friend though that’s not a bad idea. At least install a special washer in the shower head that restricts water flow. You won’t even notice it when the water’s running, and you won’t even have to smell like a stinky pirate.
- Submit any ideas you have here. Yours might be just the one that can have a huge impact on the environment. I promise you I’ll post them periodically so we can all take advantage of them.
The Uncommon Mariner