#1: Plan Ahead
We go to the beach every single week, so planning ahead comes second nature to us. Planning ahead is really easy, simply pack your lunches, drink and snacks for the day from home. Skip stopping at the grocery store to stock up on the typical beach food items (chips, candy, drinks). If you pack your lunch from home, you can bring a much healthier menu and skip all of the packaging garbage. If we are packing a lunch that includes side dishes, for example; coleslaw or salad, we will pack the lunches in our divided, reusable containers and utensils.
#2: Follow the Rules
Following the rules at the beach is very important to us - and it is super surprising how often we see people not doing it. When you arrive at the beach, stop for a moment to read all of the posted rules and signs. This should be just common sense but follow the rules of the beach. If the signs say to stay off of the dunes, reefs, and protected surrounding grasslands, please do so. Also, be very aware of turtle and bird nests - if an area is marked off, there is a reason for it - stay out. The beach is a wonderful place and we are very lucky to be able to spend our time there, however, if people choose to ruin our beaches, wildlife and oceans because they can't follow the rules, we may not be able to enjoy them in the future.
#3: Speak Up
Number three goes hand in hand with number two. If you see someone climbing on the dunes, standing on the reef or bothering sea turtle nests, you should speak up. You don't have to be outright rude or confrontation - instead try our approach. We calmly walk or swim over to the individual and say in a kind, inquisitive tone "Did you know that when you stand on the reef, it kills it?" Or, "Did you know that the dunes are there for a reason and you aren't suppose to climb on them?" Or, "Do you realize that is a turtle nest that you are bothering?" If we get any resistance or the person doesn't stop what they are doing, we will then tell the lifeguard (if the beach is guarded) or we will alert the local authorities.
#4: Choose Quality
When it comes to purchasing beach gear, choose quality items that will last. Even if you are only taking a beach vacation, skip purchasing the cheap chairs and umbrellas. Instead, pack a super comfortable blanket to sit on and don't forget the family hats. And don't buy a cheap, non-recyclable Styrofoam cooler, instead pack a large collapsible reusable one or even a couple of smaller reusable insulted bags. And when it comes to buying beach toys, choose quality over quantity - it doesn't make sense to buy those cheap toys that will break the first or second time your child plays with them. When Eben was little a set of metal measuring cups would keep him entertained all afternoon.
#5: Skip the Paper + Plastic
Forgo bringing paper napkins or plastic water bottles, baggies, or cutlery to the beach. All of those toxic plastic items are just wasteful and many blow away or get left behind on the beach, only to make there way into the ocean. Instead, go back to step 1 and plan ahead so that you have reusable napkins, reusable water bottles, reusable food containers, and reusable cutlery with you.
#6: Choose a Responsible Sunscreen
Choosing an eco-friendly, natural sunscreen is not only good for the health of you and your family, it is also better for the environment. Even if you let the sunscreen dry before heading into the ocean or laying in the sand, parts of it inevitably will get into the ocean and sand. Choosing a responsible sunscreen is a must!
#7: Skip the Soapy Shower
After spending the day at the beach, it is perfectly fine to shower off before going home. However, skip sudding up or washing your hair in the beach shower. Even if you use a biodegradable soap or shampoo, most beach showers drain directly back into the ocean and the large quantity of soap or shampoo (biodegradable or not) can still harm the fish, invertebrates, marine life, and the delicate eco-system. Instead, quickly rinse off and save washing your hair and body for when you get home.
Did I miss something? How does your family make your beach days more eco-friendly?
p.s. You can see more photos from our week of beach days on my Instagr.am feed.