Happy 4th of July!! Ready for the beach?The Fourth of July is here, which means it’s time for fun, food, family, friends and of course, fireworks! July 4th is the biggest day for beach visits in the U.S. but did you know it is one of the worst days for our beaches and oceans? More people means more litter, and more harm to our environment.
So before you head out to enjoy our beautiful Florida Beaches and state parks, read these tips to learn how you can help protect our beaches while you celebrate Independence Day.
Ditch the PlasticPlastic shopping bags and ziploc baggies can easily blow away and end up in our oceans. Replace them with reusable bags and containers to help save more than 100,000 marine animals that die from plastic bags every year in the U.S. You can reduce your waste by bringing your own plates, cups, and even cloth napkins from home rather than using disposable products. If you must, opt for compostable products that can break down over time, unlike plastic.
Don’t litterRemember to leave nothing behind but your footprints. According to the Ocean Conservancy, the most commonly found piece of litter on the beach is cigarette butts, which are harmful to smaller animals. Other plastic products commonly found on the beach, such as straws, can be deadly to marine animals and pollute our ocean.
Don’t use the trash cans on the beachIf you read #3 and thought “of course I don’t litter,” think again. A lot of the trash that ends up on our beaches and in our oceans was once thrown away - but all it takes is an overflowing garbage, a gust of wind, or an animal to carry out a piece of trash. Instead, bring your own garbage bag to dispose of at home. This way you can easily sort your garbage and recyclables and ensure the trash will go where you want it.
Eco-friendly sunscreenIt’s vital to wear sunscreen when you’re out in the Florida sun but make sure the products you’re using are safe for you AND the environment. Avoid sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate - they play a role in bleaching coral and were recently banned in Hawaii for that reason. Instead, look for "non nano" zinc oxide or titanium dioxide sunscreens. Check out this helpful link with a few different brands to try.
Watch out for sea turtle nestsWe’re right in the heart of sea turtle nesting season and the influx of visitors to the beach on the holiday poses an increased threat to sea turtles. Steer clear from any roped off areas on the beach - these usually mark a turtles nest and they need to be left alone. It is vital to take all your belongings with you when you leave the beach so the hatchlings path to the sea is not hindered.
Attend a beach cleanupTons of organizations host beach cleanups around the state for July 5th to help protect our beaches and oceans and ensure that we don’t put marine life in danger. There’s a reason Clean Beaches Week falls around July 4th. Celebrate by joining an existing clean-up or gathering a group of friends to go on your own. Make it a game and see who can cleanup the most!
Don’t use your own fireworksAs beautiful as they are, fireworks have detrimental consequences to our environment, health and animals. A 2015 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) study found that average particulate matter air pollution in the U.S. more than doubled on the evening of July 4, according to Slate. The fine particles, like those found in smoke and haze, is linked to negative health implications such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, asthma attacks, and even heart attacks. Not to mention the danger they pose to rare birds. Of course, we don’t want to put a ban on the fun holiday tradition, so instead of blasting your own - consider checking out a community display so you can ‘ooooh’ and ‘ahhh’ with your friends and family, without adding more pollution to the air and our water.
Now you’re ready for a fun and safe Fourth of July! Share these tips to make sure your friends and family are prepared, too.
Thank you for helping to protect our beautiful beaches and marine life!