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5 MIN READ

6-24-2024

Living Sustainably This Summer: Beach Bag Essentials

Mikaela Walsh, 4ocean Research Analyst

It’s O-Fish-Shelly Summer!!

      The best time of the year is finally here! School’s out, the sun’s out, but is plastic out of your beach bag? Let's make this summer one with lasting memories but not forever-lasting plastic!
      Enjoying the beautiful weather at the beach is one of the best ways to connect with nature fully. The ocean is a powerhouse of minerals, the sun’s rays produce vitamin D, the salty air is excellent for the respiratory system, and the immensely blue environment promotes creativity and relaxation. It is no wonder people feel brand new after the beach.
      Indulging in the beauty of this world is essential for summer activities, but it can also increase oceanic pollution. Avoiding disrupting the natural habitat is easy; let’s go over some easy ways to ensure we protect the ocean!

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     Bringing single-use plastic to the beach just feels wrong. Seeing the ocean, knowing how much plastic affects marine life, and bringing it to the beach unleashes a newfound guilt.
     There are many great options for reusable and eco-friendly food containers. This can help ensure that no trash is left behind and aid in reducing single-use plastic consumption. Make sure to put food in eco-friendly containers to avoid unwanted litter.
     Another significant issue is single-use water bottles. To avoid dehydration, bring water to the beach in a reusable cup.
     In addition to the environmental impact of single-use water bottles, they can also harm human health. It has been scientifically documented that plastic bottles release microplastic and nanoplastic particles into the water, which go directly into the digestive system. The effects of consuming microplastic and nanoplastic are vastly unknown, but researchers suggest that they have endocrine-disrupting effects and increase inflammation. More research needs to be done to understand the consequences, but researchers have been documenting that humans are ingesting plastic. Limiting the amount of microplastic you consume can be very beneficial, and refusing to use single-use water bottles is a great way to start.

Meli Wraps Beeswax Food Wrap - Sharky Shark Print
Meli Wraps Beeswax Food Wrap - Sharky Shark Print
Meli Wraps Beeswax Food Wrap - Sharky Shark Print
Meli Wraps Beeswax Food Wrap - Sharky Shark Print
Meli Wraps Beeswax Food Wrap - Sharky Shark Print
Meli Wraps Beeswax Food Wrap - Sharky Shark Print
Meli Wraps Beeswax Food Wrap - Sharky Shark Print
Meli Wraps Beeswax Food Wrap - Sharky Shark Print
Meli Wraps Beeswax Food Wrap - Sharky Shark Print
Meli Wraps Beeswax Food Wrap - Sharky Shark Print
Meli Wraps Beeswax Food Wrap - Sharky Shark Print
Meli Wraps Beeswax Food Wrap - Sharky Shark Print
Meli Wraps Beeswax Food Wrap - Sharky Shark Print
Meli Wraps Beeswax Food Wrap - Sharky Shark Print
Meli Wraps Beeswax Food Wrap - Sharky Shark Print
Meli Wraps Beeswax Food Wrap - Sharky Shark Print
Meli Wraps Beeswax Food Wrap - Sharky Shark Print
Meli Wraps Beeswax Food Wrap - Sharky Shark Print
Meli Wraps Beeswax Food Wrap - Sharky Shark Print
Meli Wraps Beeswax Food Wrap - Sharky Shark Print

Meli Wraps Beeswax Food Wrap - Sharky Shark Print

What beach towel are you using? Microfiber beach towels have become increasingly popular because they are lightweight, fast drying, and able to fold into small shapes to fit into bags. Have you ever questioned why some towels have all of these awesome features, though? Because they are made from plastic!
     Microfiber beach towels may be handy, but they are actually harmful to the ecosystem for multiple reasons. Firstly, when washing microfiber material, massive amounts of microscopic plastic, known as microfibers, are leached into the laundry water, which goes directly into the streams leading to the ocean.
      Another reason these towels are harmful is that they shed tiny microfibers directly into the sand. With high tides or rainstorms, the wind can blow these microfibers or wash them straight into the ocean.
      A very important reason to avoid using microfiber towels is that they are made from synthetic materials that do not biodegrade in the natural environment. These materials stay on earth longer than their intended use, which can interfere with aquatic life and circulate in the ocean for generations. Using organic materials, like cotton, is a great eco-friendly alternative.

     Plastic pollution is highly harmful to our ecosystem because its properties are made to last forever. But have you ever considered chemical pollution? Chemical pollution occurs when chemicals from our skin run off or are put directly into our oceans, leach, and affect the ocean's chemical makeup. This includes boating chemicals, fertilizers, and sunscreen, among many other things.
      One way to avoid contributing to this issue is to ensure the sunscreen you use is reef-safe. Although you are not (hopefully) directly dumping massive amounts of sunscreen into the ocean, the sunscreen rubs off your skin over time, affecting the local fish. Even the most minuscule amounts of these chemicals, sixty-two parts per trillion, can wreak havoc on the local reefs and fish. To put that into perspective, one drop in six Olympic-sized swimming pools can have extremely harmful, even deadly, consequences on the ecosystem.
      Some of the chemicals found in common sunscreen can also have extremely harmful effects on the human body. Chemicals are often known for acting as endocrine disruptors, meaning they throw your natural hormones off, creating a plethora of health consequences.

     Chemical sunscreen works by absorbing the chemicals into the first layers of skin. After this penetration occurs, they convert radiation energy from the sun into heat energy, which causes the UV radiation to not burn you.
     On the contrary, mineral sunscreen deflects harmful sun rays away from your skin to avoid sunburn. Surprisingly, not all mineral sunscreen is reef-safe or human-safe.
     List of several chemicals to avoid that can be hazardous for the ocean and human health:
- Oxybenzone
- Octinoxate
- Homosalate
- Octocrylene
- Avobenzone
- Octisalate
- Clear or nano zinc
- Parabens
Make sure to check the active and inactive ingredient list

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     Most importantly, leave the beach better than you found it! If you see plastic debris or any potentially hazardous material on the beach, properly dispose of it to ensure it does not come into contact with the aquatic environment.
     Now that we have discussed some impacts humans can attribute to while at the beach, let’s enjoy the bright blue sea! Protecting the ocean is just as important as spending time in it!

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