World Oceans Day reminds us of the rising imperative to protect our blue planet – both at home and while we’re traveling.
Conceived by the United Nations, World Oceans Day, observed each year on June 8, serves as a timely reminder “to celebrate together the beauty, the wealth, and the promise of the ocean.” Aside from boosting our mental health, our blue planet supplies most of the oxygen we breathe while absorbing some 30 percent of human-made carbon dioxide, according to the U.N, meaning healthy oceans are also vital to addressing climate change. Our oceans also provide employment and serve as the primary protein source for roughly 3 billion people. Here, in gratitude for all that oceans give us, Beyond Green offers eight great ways to help save our seas.
- Say no to single-use plastics.A grim forecast from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation says it all: If we proceed on our current path, plastics could outweigh all the fish in our oceans by 2050. Reversing this trend includes avoiding single-use plastic water bottles and seeking out sustainable hotels, resorts, and lodges that do the same. The good news: All Beyond Green members, from Ireland’s 800-year-old Ashford Castle to Botswana’s new Xigera Safari Lodge, have eliminated single-use plastic water bottles from their properties.
- Keep our beaches clean. A day on the beach makes everything better, especially when we’ve contributed to keeping it clean by supporting hotels and lodges who share this philosophy. Staff at Costa Rica’s seaside Arenas Del Mar, for example, regularly volunteer to clear refuse from the stretch of Espadilla Beach that runs between the resort and nearby Manuel Antonio National Park (shown below).
- Seek out sustainable seafood. Apps like Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch and the Good Fish Guide put power in our hands to make responsible dining decisions. Supporting conscientious restaurants is also key. Two of our favorites in California: Sierra Mar (shown below) at Big Sur’s Post Ranch Inn, which serves sustainable seafood in keeping with Monterey Bay Aquarium guidelines, and Harvest at The Ranch at Laguna Beach, which earned Surfrider Foundation’s first “Ocean Friendly Restaurant” certification.
- Support transformational opportunities. The Blue Climate Initiative, supported by The Brando in French Polynesia (shown in our featured image above), has brought together world sustainability experts, including Beyond Green co-founder Costas Christ, to co-author a new book, Transformational Opportunities for People, Ocean, Planet, to advance action for global marine conservation and combat climate change. Guests at The Brando can also meet with visiting marine scientists at its on-site Ecostation to learn about critical conservation initiatives and lend a hand by releasing fish larvae and baby turtles under the guidance of marine conservationists.
- Protect coral reefs. “Rainforests of the sea,” coral reefs sustain some 25 percent of the ocean’s fish, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, while also sheltering coastlines from dangerous waves. One easy way to protect them is to use only reef-safe sunscreen. Look for chemical-free brands like Mama Kuleana, whose products also come in biodegradable packaging. Even better: Apply your reef-friendly sunscreen at responsible resorts like InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa (shown below), which works to protect and regenerate Bora Bora’s coral reef systems.
- Sustain blue carbon ecosystems. Purchasing carbon offsets, like those provided by myclimate and Native Energy, can help lighten our travel footprint, especially when they support coastal ecosystems such as salt marshes and mangroves, which sequester more carbon than tropical forests. For hands-on experience, head to Belize’s Turtle Inn to help plant mangrove trees that also help shelter a myriad of marine species.
- Embrace eco-organizations through travel. The most satisfying hotel stays are those that also help sustain conservation efforts by protecting the very things that visitors come to experience and enjoy. At Zanzibar’s andBeyond Mnemba Island, for instance, guests join staff to watch turtles hatch and learn about broader work conducted by Oceans Without Borders, andBeyond’s marine conservation initiative that supports the establishment of marine protected areas and promotes coastal conservation. Miavana by Time + Tide works with the Time + Tide Foundation to protect Madagascar’s biodiversity, including endangered Hawksbill sea turtles and seasonal tern populations. And Panama’s Islas Secas (shown below) partners with the Islas Secas Foundation to support an array of ocean conservation projects and eco-education programs for local students.
- Restore rivers. Remember, too, that all rivers run to the sea. It’s a maxim that’s well understood at New Mexico’s Vermejo, a Ted Turner Reserve, whose extensive eco-efforts include maintaining sustainable groundwater tables, restoring overgrazed riverbanks, and preserving healthy fish populations. Bonus: After casting lines in the reserve’s 19 lakes and 30 miles of streams, guests can give back by volunteering on the reserve’s ongoing riparian restoration projects.