Not in a place to donate your time or money? That’s no problem. Consider adopting some of these quick and easy practices into your daily life to help sea turtles in every ocean….no matter how far away you live from a sandy beach.
Did you know that Americans throw away so much recyclable material each year that if placed end to end, those items would make it to the moon and back hundreds of times? Now that’s a lot of paper, plastic water bottles, soda bottles and plastic bags that could have been reused or repurposed instead of ending up in our landfills….or even our oceans. Ever heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?
Every item that gets recycled is one less item that could possibly end up in our oceans harming wildlife. Sea turtles can get caught in floating trash or entangled in tossed fishing line, causing them to drown, as they can’t get to the surface to breath air. Taking the time to place recyclable items in the correct container could help save sea turtles and sea life everywhere!
Reduce Your Plastic Waste
Leatherback and Kemp’s ridley sea turtles often feed on jellyfish in the open ocean. But a floating plastic grocery bag is sometimes mistaken for their tasty treats. If consumed, these bags get stuck in the digestive system and, if not rescued by humans, can cause these giant sea turtles to die. Other plastics that are discarded degrade into smaller bits and leach chemicals into the water or are eaten by sea turtles or other sea life.
Reducing the amount of plastic you use will cut down on the plastic pollution in our waters as well as help reduce the amount of air pollution from plastic processing plants.
- Try bringing your own reusable shopping bag to the grocery store
- Pack your lunch free of plastics by using eco-containers such as metal, glass or fabric.
- Use reusable, non-plastic water bottles
- Take a look at some of the other options and advice at these handy websites:
Get Rid of Harmful Yard Chemicals
Everyone wants a lush, green yard with healthy plants and beautiful flowers, but did you know that those harsh chemicals used to maintain your lawn end up right into our water supply? And eventually the chemicals from fertilizers and pesticides make it into the ocean, harming sea life and habitats. Those chemicals pollute the water and can contribute to the erosion of coral reefs, a habitat important for several sea turtle species.
There are some great ways to have a healthy yard but get rid of all of those harmful chemicals. Here are some ideas:
- Try using only native plants to your community, requiring less time, less water and less fertilizer than non-native plants
- Give a go at composting from kitchen scraps
- Leave your lawn clippings on the grass to act as a natural fertilizer
Buy Sustainably Harvested Seafood Products
Turtles often die from being trapped long fishing nets that are used by fisheries out in the oceans. Bycatch is a serious problem for turtles and other sea life but there have been some efforts to reduce the amount of bycatch in fisheries with specialty lines and nets or refraining from fishing in known sea turtle migration areas. But not all fisheries abide by these. Help make a stand against harmful bycatch by only purchasing seafood products from sustainable fisheries that use these simple tactics to reduce their bycatch.
How to find a sustainable fishery? That may be a little tricky, as those things aren’t always clearly labeled on packaging. Try looking for seafood that has been harvested off the coast of the United States, as our guidelines are one of the strictest for fisheries. You can also take a look at the following website to give you some ideas of what you should avoid buying:
Or use the below website to help find restaurants that use sustainable seafood products in their kitchens:
Proper Disposal of Electronics
As technology continues to be a part of our daily lives, more and more electronics end up in landfills as we replace our old cell phones, computers and other gadgets for new, shiny ones. American’s replace electronics every 2 to 5 years and every year up to 50 million metric tons of electronics are tossed into landfills.
The issue with electronics is that they are more often than not made from toxic substances, such as lead or nickel, and as they sit in landfills for years, they leech those chemicals into the environment and eventually make their way into the water supply. This is equally bad for the environment, the oceans and human health. One way to stop this cycle is to donate your old electronics to be recycled at a specialty facility. There are often drop off centers or you can arrange pickups at your home or office. Or find a way to repurpose an old item instead of putting it in a dumpster or donate to a local charity.
Got a drawer filled with old cell phones? Try recycling or donating them. Second Wave Recycling will send you a shipping label and you can recycle your old phones for free. The company will either try to resell the phones or will recycle them for you, and to make the deal even sweeter, the company donates the proceeds from their profits to a charity of your choosing! They change their charity partners regularly but have donated to the Sea Turtle Conservancy and Reef Relief in the past. Check out their website for current charity partners.