WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP OUR OCEAN ENVIRONMENT

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Many people realize that there are problems that result in environmental damage to our surroundings as well as to our oceans, but feel powerless to make any significant change. This page gives suggestions as to what people can do to help reduce this damage. Most of the pressures on the environment are a result of the fast growing world population.  The more people reduce their negative impact, the faster the environmental damage problems can be stopped. 

Our oceans are vast, yet fragile. It is known, without a doubt, that the oceans are greatly effected by human activities. Whether right on the coast or thousands of miles inland, human actions have a direct impact on what happens to our seas. 

Many of the following suggestions involve only small changes in daily habits, but these will result in a great reduction in the human ecological footprint. To find areas of interest, the suggestions are separated into the following sections:  

  • Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
  • Save the Environment and Save your money
  • Save the Environment and Reduce your Health Risk
  • At Home
  • Travel/Transportation
  • Children
  • Other Ways to Help
  • We are always looking for more ideas.  Please send us an email if you have one which is not included below.  We will give credit for your suggestion if it is added.

    First, some information about the basics: the 3 R's. Most of us know we should Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, but what does this mean and why.

    Reduce because while recycling is important, it is not enough. 

    Every year in the U.S. we dispose of:
    • 1 billion foil-lined fruit juice boxes

    • 2 billion used batteries

    • 25 billion Styrofoam cups

    • 700,000 old TVs

    • 1.6 billion disposable pens

    • 700,000 junked cars

    • 2 billion disposable razors

    • 15 million tons of food

    • 16 billion disposable diapers

    (Source; www.EPA.gov)

    • To avoid waste, buy only those products you need or use. 
    • Make sure those products you do purchase are durable and long lasting rather than having only temporary utility.
    • Reduce your use of disposable products.
    • Buy products which have little or no packaging.  In 2000, almost 1/3 of trash was packaging and containers.
    • Avoid food packaged in individual servings.  Buy in bulk. It saves money too.
    • Reduce unwanted mail by instructing companies you do business with to not sell or give away your name and address. Write to Mail Preference Service, c/o Direct Mail Marketing Association, P.O. Box 9008, Farmingdale, New York 11735 or call (212) 768-7277 to be removed from national mailing lists.

    • Continue to read through this page for more suggestions.

    By reducing the amount of total products consumed, precious resources can be saved. Almost all products require the use of non-renewable resources (resources which one day will no longer be available). It also takes a great deal of energy to produce, transport and then recycle materials. Each step adds waste as well as greenhouse gas emissions (see graph below [image and text source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency]), and often many other pollutants.  "In the process of making the end products we actually use, some 93 percent of materials used in production do not end up in saleable products but in waste, while 80 percent of products are discarded after a single use." (WRI, World Resources 1998-99). "In 2003, U.S. residents, businesses, and institutions produced more than 236 million tons of municipal solid waste, which is approximately 4.5 pounds of waste per person per day." (www.EPA.gov). Of this, only 30% is currently recycled or composted.  In the United States, the amount of waste per person has increased by over 65% during the past 40 years.  In 1960, the per person amount of waste was 2.7 pounds per person per day (source: EPA.gov).  

    The image above illustrates the four main stages of product life cycles, all of which provide opportunities for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and/or offsets. These stages are: raw material acquisition, manufacturing, recycling, and waste management.

    Reuse because a product consumes little or no energy and resources to reuse.

    • Buy high quality products that will have a long life.
    • Repair broken items rather than just discarding and buying new ones.
    • Donate items to charity or resell if still in good condition.
    • Reuse bags, boxes, and containers.
    • Use both sides of paper when printing or copying.
    • Use backyard composting for disposing of table scraps.
    • Use rechargeable batteries.

    Recycle because it saves raw materials, reduces greenhouse gas and other industrial gas emissions, reduces energy consumption and reduces the flow of trash filling landfills. If an average American family of four were to recycle all of its mixed plastic waste, nearly 340 pounds of carbon equivalent emissions could be reduced each year. Currently, the U.S. recycles only about 30% of its waste, which results in a greenhouse gas reduction equal to removing nearly 25 million cars from the road. 

    • Buy recycled products or products with a high-recycled material content.
    • Use recycling facilities in your area for household recyclable materials such as glass, plastic, tin, aluminum and paper products.

    Save the Environment and save your money

    There are a number of changes that can reduce your impact on the environment and save you money at the same time.

    • Reduce and Reuse.  This is the easiest and best way to do your part.

    • Drive less since this uses less fuel.  Every trip you avoid or reduce will keep extra cash in your pocket.

    • Walk, bike or carpool if possible.

    • Make fewer trips and shop locally.

    • Web shop to reduce car trips.

    • Telecommute if it is an option.

    • When you do drive

      • Keep your vehicle well tuned because it will use less fuel.

      • Keep your tires well inflated because they will last much longer and use less fuel.

      • Use fuel-efficient or alternate fuel vehicles. Ethanol-based fuels do less damage to the environment.

      • Don't top off at the gas station because all the little spills add up.

      • Avoid hard acceleration of your car.

      • Keep your speed down.

      • Share car trips with others.

      • Plan your trips to avoid unnecessary miles.

      • Travel outside the rush hour to avoid congestion. 

      • Remove unnecessary items from inside your car to reduce weight.

      • Remove unnecessary roof racks to reduce wind resistance.

    • Use less electricity.  Turning lights, computers, TVs and other electronics off when not in use will lower your utility bill significantly. Electrical energy production is one of the biggest sources of carbon dioxide pollution.

    • Each time you choose a compact fluorescent light bulb over an incandescent bulb, you'll lower your energy bill and, on average, keep half a ton of carbon dioxide out of the air (source: www.nrdc.org).

    • Turn off lights and all other electrical equipment when not in use.

    • Choose pots and pans that match the stove top heating area.  Putting lids on pots and pans while heating can save 50% of your energy consumption (Electrolux).

    • Use programmable thermostats for heating and cooling.  Heat or cool only the rooms you are actually using.

    • Set your thermostat a couple of degrees lower in the winter and a couple of degrees higher in the summer.

    • Insulate your home and water heater.

    • Only run your dishwasher and clothes washer when they are full.

    • Buy energy conserving appliances that will save substantial money in the long run.

    • Clean or replace your air-conditioner and heater filters as recommended.

    • Defrost your freezer if it does not have a frost-free feature because it will then use less energy.

    • If you live in a sunny, warm climate, plant trees next to your house to reduce the heat from the sun and reduce the need for air-conditioning. (See below for more information).

    • Seek out power companies that produce electricity using less environmentally taxing methods (wind, solar, etc.).

    • Use LED holiday lights and turn them off when you are not there to enjoy them. LED bulbs use as little as a tenth of the energy used by mini-bulbs and a hundredth of incandescent bulbs.
    • Don't waste food.  According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as much as 27% or 97 billion pounds of food went to waste in 1995.
    • Buy only what you will use while food is fresh.
    • Prepare and serve only as much as you will eat and store leftovers in reusable containers for later use.
    • Compost your green waste.
    • Conserve water to reduce your water bill. 

    • Landscape with native plants that need less or no water.

    • Install water-efficient showerheads, faucets, and toilets.

    • Run your dishwasher and clothes washer only when it is full.

    • Use less paper  

    • Print on both sides of the paper and reduce the width of margins and font sizes.

    • Use cloth napkins instead of paper products.

    • Use towels and sponges as an alternative to paper towels.

    • Use reusable gift bags and boxes, not single use wrapping paper. Solid waste increases by over 25% from Thanksgiving until New Year's, partly as a result of wrapping and packaging. This adds up to over 4 million pounds of waste during these months (source: www.EPA.gov).

    • Request that your bank or credit card company provide electronic statements instead of paper statements through the mail.  

    • Read your news from a credible online source instead of from a newspaper.

    • Use re-usable bags to carry the groceries rather than using new paper bags each time.

    • Eliminate or reduce your use of pesticides and fertilizers. Natural products are often less expensive.         

      • Less fertilizer is needed if you mow your lawn to maintain the grass at a length at 3- 3