Studies show that being by the sea is actually good for our health as it is a natural mood enhancer. But unfortunately, an influx of people at beaches can be very detrimental to the health of the sea. In the past, beaches such as Maya Beach in Thailand have been closed because of the damage done by tourism. So, if we want to continue to travel to the beautiful beaches of the world, we need to learn how to make our beach visits sustainable.
Because we care about the health of the sea (and we know that many other holiday-goers do too), we have listed below some advice on how to be kind to the seaside when on holiday.
Protecting Our Beaches
It’s not that hard to be kind to the seaside really, fundamentally it’s about respecting the area. There are some things that are important to consider when visiting the beach, but it doesn’t mean you can’t still have a great time!
Leave the Beach as You Found It
It might seem obvious, but it’s surprising how much litter can be left on the beach after a day of holidaymakers having fun. Litter can be extremely detrimental to the beach and the sea. Not only does it ruin the natural beauty of the area, it is also a hazard to wildlife who will try to consume it. Moreover, it will very likely wash up into the ocean, which is already becoming overrun with litter.
Animals who consume this waste can choke to death. So, if you’re planning a picnic on the beach, be prepared to take your litter home with you just in case there isn’t a bin anywhere nearby. Don’t forget the importance of the ‘recycle, reuse and reduce’ rule which can also be put into practice on holiday!
Consume Sustainable Seafood
Although it might not seem like a very direct action, it is important to bear in mind. Non-sustainable fishing can have dire consequences for the environment. For instance, fishing nets can end up in the ocean and trap animals, or other animals might be killed or injured as a result of the fishing. When you choose to eat sustainably caught fish, you are encouraging healthy fishing practices, and discouraging ones that damage the ocean. In turn, this will result in a cleaner, safer beach and a more enjoyable experience at the seaside for everyone.
Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
Water sports can be great fun, and what better time to do it than when you’re on holiday at the beach. Some activities have an environmental impact, such as water-skiing or any other engine-led sport. Accidental discharge of oil and fuel can majorly pollute the ocean and emissions add to the growing climate crisis. As well as this, the noise disturbs wildlife and scares them away, in fact, Minnesota Sea Grant found that personal water crafts can create sound levels that are 80-100 decibels, which is already too loud for humans, let alone animals with better hearing. Instead of jet skis and boating, why not try a more hands-on activity such as canoeing and surfing. These sports can be just as much fun and won’t be as damaging to the environment and disruptive to the ocean. Be sure to always look out for marine wildlife whilst doing any activities though!
Use An Eco-friendly Sunscreen
Many people don’t know this, but sunscreen can have a toxic effect on the environment. Everyone should wear sunscreen at the beach, but the problem is that it washes off into the ocean. Chemicals in the sunscreen, such as oxybenzone, are known to bleach young coral.
Coral is incredibly important as it is home to the most diverse ecosystems in the world, they protect coastlines from the damaging effects of waves and tropical storms and they provide shelter for a lot of marine life. Coral is being destroyed at an alarming rate because of beach construction and toxic sunscreens which is why it is crucial to find yourself a reef-safe sunscreen before visiting the seaside, so you can be sure that you are not contributing to the damage.
Take a look at our article: Is Your Sunscreen Damaging Coral Reefs? to find out more.
Do Not Disturb Wildlife
Finding new wildlife on holiday is very exciting, but it’s incredibly important that you do not disturb any animals you do find at the beach. Fish, seals, turtles, birds or any other kind of animals you find should be left to their own devices, even if they’re injured. If you do happen to find an animal that is somewhere it shouldn’t be, or looks unwell, try to contact a local conservation society or veterinarian who can deal with the problem without causing more harm. It’s important not to disturb wildlife because it could startle them and distress them. It is also dangerous for you as an animal that feels threatened could end up attacking you. Our article How to Reduce Your Impact On Wildlife When Travelling can give you more information about the importance of not disturbing wildlife.
Don’t Take Seashells Home
As tempting as it can be to take souvenirs home from the beach, shells are actually extremely important to the health of the beach. Not only do they provide homes and shelter for many animals, but birds also use them to build nests and when the shells break down, they provide nutrients for the animals living in the sand. Taking away shells from the beach can have a slow, but damaging effect. Instead, why not seek out handmade souvenirs from local people. Not only is this the more environmentally-friendly option (watch out for the use of animal products such as hides, which encourages poaching), but it also goes towards the local economy, supporting the community, something which is important to do when travelling.
Join A Beach clean-up
Although it might not sound like the most fun thing to do on holiday, it can be very rewarding to know that you are actually having a positive effect on the place that you are visiting. Lots of conservation charities run frequent beach clean-ups, so it’s worth researching the area you are staying in and seeing if there are any efforts or programmes you can get involved in. Partaking in a beach clean-up can be a great way to meet new people and learn more about the local environment.
Sustainability doesn’t stop at the beach
We shouldn’t have to stop going to beaches in order to keep the seaside healthy, they’re some of the most beautiful places on earth! But just like travelling anywhere else, it needs to be done in a sustainable manner. These top tips will not stop you having the time of your life, but they will limit environmental damage and make sure that our beaches and seas are not destroyed and can be enjoyed by many generations to come.
Kiwano can help you towards the first step of becoming a green traveller by providing a list of approved green accommodations for you to stay at and give you further tips on how to stay green as a traveller.