Our Choices Matter
By Aubry Forsyth
With the new year upon us, let’s look at a few resolutions we can all follow to help protect our environment.
Ditch single-use plastics
Single-use plastics like cups and straws are one of the most prevalent pollutants in our environment. According to earthday.org, “thirty-two percent of the 78 million tons of plastic packaging produced annually is left to flow into our oceans; the equivalent of pouring one garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute.” If no changes are made by 2050, it is expected that the rate of plastic entering the oceans will have increased to the equivalent of four garbage truckloads per minute. You can ditch single-use plastics in so many ways. The next time you go to the grocery store, opt for reusable bags rather than plastic ones. If you have to use the plastic bags, reuse them so they don’t head straight to the landfill (or worse, the ocean). Consider investing in a reusable water bottle and/or a reusable coffee cup that you can use instead of single-use plastic bottles and cups. You could also join the “Skip the Straw” movement by replacing plastic straws with alternatives like metal, glass, or bamboo.
Apply reef-friendly sunscreen
Many sunscreens contain harmful chemicals such as oxybenzone (BP-3) that can lead to the degradation of coral reefs in particular. Oxybenzone has been found to increase coral’s susceptibility to bleaching, the process where the corals expel the algae that live inside of the coral’s tissues, causing the coral to turn white. Although this does not kill the coral, it makes them more vulnerable to death by stress and disease. By choosing reef-safe sunscreens, you will be making a decision that will help protect our oceans.
Participate in local clean-ups
Whether it’s in a park, at the beach, or even in your neighborhood, cleanups help our environment. With beach cleanups in particular, you will be saving marine life and preserving the future of our oceans. Not only that, it’s a lot easier to clean up the trash before it reaches the ocean. Cleanups in general are great social opportunities to meet new people, you’ll become more aware of your own lifestyle (especially regarding the use of single-use plastics), and you’ll feel good about helping the environment afterward.
Stop supporting fast fashion
Fast fashion is a term used to describe an area of the fashion industry that relies on cheap production of low-quality clothes that cycle through the market to uphold the newest trends. The fashion industry is responsible for 10 percent of global carbon emissions and 20 percent of the world’s wastewater; both of which are increasing at alarming rates due to the rise of fast fashion. Through the use of toxic dyes and other harmful chemicals used to speed up the production process and lower costs, fast fashion has been directly linked to water pollution. Because of the speed at which these clothes are made, as well as the cheap materials used to make them, these soon to be out-of-style clothes are disposed of by consumers at disturbing amounts.
If you would like to learn more about fast fashion’s effects on the environment, visit the following link: earth.org/data_visualization/impacts-of-fast-fashion-on-the-environment/
Which brands should you avoid? Some of the more noteworthy fast fashion brands include Shein, H&M, Urban Outfitters, Zara, Brandy Melville, American Eagle, Gap, and Victoria’s Secret (to name just a few).
Aubry Forsyth has been a volunteer with the Sea Turtle Preservation Society for nearly six years. She enjoys being a part of the Saturday nesting survey team, as well as writing for the Loggerhead Lowdown blog.