We’ve seen the horror of how humanity has become the most ruthless of all species on Earth. Perhaps the most disturbing image we’ve seen so far was that poor juvenile whale ingesting a huge amount of plastic choking it to death.
Well, thanks to our plastic-dependent economy and lifestyle that myopically puts a premium on retail convenience without thinking of its environmental impact.
As of 2018, it is estimated that a total of 8 metric tons of plastic end up in our oceans per year. To put that into perspective, that’s equivalent to five grocery bags filled with plastic for every foot of coastline in the world.
And the uplands are catching up. More and more mountains aren’t being spared by our obsession with plastics. Yes, we’re referring to those irresponsible mountain visitors who lack the manners of disposing of their wastes properly.
Yes, it’s a grim reality but we can do better. Below is a short list of five practical ways we can have fun outdoors without hurting the planet.
1. Use eco-friendly utensils
Reusable straws and eco-friendly utensils are on the rise well thanks to the millions of single-use straws killing our whales, turtles and the likes, which finally drives a worldwide movement that encourages people to use reusable, environmentally-friendly straws, tumblers and utensils.
So next time you head to McDonald’s or that chic coffeeshop, bring your own straw and mug.
2. Use reusable bottles
Next time you go out for your island hopping or city tours, bring your own reusable bottle instead of purchasing bottled one. Not only can you save a few bucks but you’re helping cutting back the amount of plastic that will go straight to dump sites (or ocean).
3. Get rid of single-use plastic bags
This is one familiar actionable advise but something we can’t easily forego. However, we can all start small. So next time you go to the nearest souvenir shops or drugstore, refuse that plastic bag. That’s a small, simple habit that can go a long way.
4. Say NO to sky lantern festival and balloon drops
It’s just beyond depressing to imagine some established names in the hospitality industry organize Instagram-worthy balloon drops as part of their marketing gimmickry to draw crowds. The moment you participate in such activities you’re already harming the environment. Balloons and sky lantern debris will make its way to the ocean, killing our marine life in the process.
5. Use eco-friendly sunscreens and repellants
The rise of global temperature has already taken a toll to our corals, which produces ~70% of the world’s oxygen. Coral bleaching is on the rise. Exacerbating the situation is a large number of toxic materials from sunscreens we unknowingly spill to the ocean.
Thankfully, there are decent selections of coral-friendly lotions in the market today. You can still stay protected from the sun without harming marine life. So before you head out for your beach pilgrimage, maybe hoard some Oxybenzone-free, reef-friendly sunscreens?
The quest for a greener environment isn’t the only task of government and non-gov organizations alike. We as citizens of the world can do our part. We can all start small with our small steps.