World Aquatic Animal Day: Expert Shares How to Help the Ocean

In support of World Aquatic Animal Day 2022 on Sunday 3rd April, BuildYourAquarium.com have supplied 9 simple and easy lifestyle changes to help stop ocean pollution. 

This is poignant considering there are approximately 50-75 trillion pieces of plastic and microplastics currently in the ocean. With 8 million pieces of plastic thought to enter the ocean every single day. In just 30 years it is believed that fish in the ocean will be outnumbered by pieces of plastic [source].

BuildYourAquarium.com’s 9 tips include:

  1. Stop buying single-use plastic
  2. Skip the straw
  3. Be careful when using chemicals on your lawn
  4. Eat organic
  5. Nix the littering problem
  6. Flush appropriately
  7. Don’t flick your butts
  8. Switch to natural cleaners
  9. Conserve water

Stop Buying Single-Use Plastic

Using fewer single-use plastic items is one of the most significant changes that you can make to reduce ocean pollution. One way to do this is to reuse water bottles. Fill them up from the tap. However, if you do purchase water, buy gallons or larger containers instead of smaller bottles. Better yet, consider using refillable 5-gallon water dispensers.

You can make other small changes by:

  • Use metal utensils instead of plastic ones
  • Bring your own shopping bags or choose paper bags
  • Pack lunches in reusable containers instead of plastic baggies
  • Switch to a bamboo toothbrush instead of a plastic one
  • Wax your body hair instead of shaving it – disposable razors are not recyclable

Skip the Straw

Plastic straws are just as problematic as plastic bottles. They also pose a threat to marine animals. If you do have to use a straw, you can purchase a reusable one that’s made of stainless steel or silicone.

Be Careful When Using Chemicals on Your Lawn

Have you ever noticed that the area on the street near your home is stained orange? That’s from the iron in the fertilizer that runs off of your lawn. The grass can’t soak up all of the chemicals, and the excess pollutants flow into the sewer and drainage systems.

When these chemicals build up in waterways, they cause algae blooms. Sometimes, those algae blooms make it impossible to pass through the waterways. As the algae die off, they use up the existing oxygen in the water to decompose.

This limits the amount of usable oxygen that sea life needs to survive. Aquatic species relocate to other areas, and the oxygen-depleted regions become known as dead zones.

Fish also absorb the chemicals. If humans or other animals eat these fish, they’ll ingest the toxins too.

The EPA says that you can be more careful with the chemicals that you use in your garden by:

  • Apply products sparingly
  • Use organic products
  • Plant native species that thrive in your area to minimize fertilizer use
  • Reduce the amount of grass in your garden
  • Avoid using chemicals on slopes or garden edges, where the absorption rate is lower
  • Avoid using lawn chemicals before a heavy rainfall
  • Test the soil for nutrient deficiencies to use fertilizer wisely

Eat Organic

If you eat organic foods, you support practices that minimize ocean pollution. Organic items are grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Organic soil also holds onto carbon dioxide, keeping it out of the waterways. This reduces the problem of ocean acidification.

Eating organic can help coral reefs thrive by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide that makes its way into the oceans.

Nix the Littering Problem

Picking up after yourself is one thing. You can also help others do the same. If you go to the beach with friends, make sure that everyone carries out their trash. Bring a bag with you when you head outside so that you can collect and discard pieces of trash that you find.

Join or organize a clean-up in your community. Schools and other organizations can band together to help keep the beach and green spaces in your town litter-free.

Flush Appropriately

Pretty much the only thing that should go down the toilet is toilet paper. If you’re flushing anything else, you could be harming the ocean.

Here are some products that you’re not supposed to flush:

  • Wet wipes – Wet wipes are detrimental to the environment. Even the flushable versions don’t fully break down and can cause environmental damage.
  • Tissues and paper towels – Even though tissues and paper towels feel similar to toilet paper, they’re not designed to be flushed. Discard them in the trash instead.
  • Menstrual products – You’re not supposed to flush pads or tampons down the toilet. If you really want to help reduce ocean pollution, stop using disposable period products, and switch to a cup or absorbent underwear.
  • Cotton balls – Cotton balls don’t break down as easily as you think and could contribute to ocean pollution.
  • Dental floss – Most floss is made of nylon, which doesn’t biodegrade. It’s so small that it can escape the disposal process and end up in waterways. Floss can suffocate marine animals or cause health problems when it’s ingested.

Don’t Flick Your Butts

If you smoke cigarettes, dispose of the butts properly. That means that you should toss them in the trash. Cigarette filters are made mostly of cellulose acetate, a type of plastic. They can take more than ten years to decompose.

Switch to Natural Cleaners

Many household cleaners contribute to pollution. When you dispose of them improperly, such as by pouring them down the drain, you increase the risk that they’ll end up in our waterways. Even just mopping your floor with a chemical solution and rinsing it in the sink can exacerbate the ocean pollution problem.

Try using natural alternatives to chemical cleaners. Some ideas include:

  • Use a plunger or plumber’s snake instead of drain cleaner
  • Use vinegar to clean glass and other hard surfaces in your home
  • Mix a teaspoon of lemon juice with a pint of vegetable oil to polish furniture
  • Use baking soda as a rug deodoriser
  • Use cedar chips, rosemary, lavender, or essential oil instead of mothballs

Conserve Water

Sewage treatment plants can become overwhelmed when they’re inundated with excess water. When communities use too much water at once, pollutants can make it through the processing system and end up in the oceans.

Use less water at home by:

  • Take shorter showers
  • Collect the cold water as you wait for the shower to warm up and use it to water plants
  • Put sprinklers and irrigation systems on timers
  • Run the washing machine and dishwasher when they’re full
  • Turn off the sink while you brush your teeth
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