Ocean Currents » Green Tips http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Fri, 24 Feb 2017 14:57:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Take the Oath http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2017/01/22/take-the-oath/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2017/01/22/take-the-oath/#comments Sun, 22 Jan 2017 13:00:10 +0000 Janis Searles Jones http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=13627

“We do solemnly swear that we will faithfully speak up for the ocean, and will to the best of our ability to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of our Ocean.”

It’s a big week.

Just a few days ago, the new President of the United States stood before a crowd in Washington, D.C. and took an oath to uphold the Constitution.

We’re taking an oath, too. We pledge to work harder than ever to fight for our ocean and the animals and communities who rely on it.

Join us. Take a moment to make a pledge to our ocean—a promise that you will do whatever you can to preserve, protect and defend the ocean so it will endure for generations to come.

Over the next 100 days, the Trump administration will set their priorities for the next four years. We need to ensure ocean health is at the top of that list. Add your voice today and tell President Trump to make the ocean a priority.

The next 100 days will be a flurry of activity for the new administration, and we want to make sure the ocean isn’t pushed aside. But we need YOU: Help us generate 100,000 acts of support for our ocean in the first 100 days. Over the next 100 days, we’ll send you ten proactive steps you can take to make a difference for our ocean. Are you with us?

Whether you’re on the water every day or live in a land-locked state, there are countless things you can do right now to support the health of our ocean. Over the next 100 days, you’ll hear more from us about quick and easy ways you can help the ocean every day.

The first step? Take the pledge to support the ocean today.

Now, more than ever, we need strong advocates for the ocean. People who are willing to help preserve the fragile ecosystems we have, protect the ocean’s resources that countless animals and communities rely on and defend critical policies that support sustainable fishing, ocean planning, coastal communities and more.

Step up and take the oath today. The ocean needs you.

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Preventing Marine Debris, One Straw at a Time http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/11/28/preventing-marine-debris-one-straw-at-a-time/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/11/28/preventing-marine-debris-one-straw-at-a-time/#comments Mon, 28 Nov 2016 14:00:58 +0000 Sarah Kollar http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=13366

Over the past several weeks, Ocean Conservancy has received a wave of 2016 International Coastal Cleanup data. Thanks to volunteers from Idaho to Indonesia, data from the 2016 ICC and the Clean Swell app are pouring into our new ocean trash database. The trash by the numbers provides us with a year-by-year snapshot of the top items that plague our waterways and coastlines.

Lately, there’s been some buzz around one top ocean trash item in particular: plastic straws (over 211,000 already logged!). With a debris item that is so easily preventable, and a host of alternatives out there, individuals, organizations and whole communities are now taking action. The most recent success story: Chiles Restaurant Group of Anna Maria, Florida.

This group of three waterfront restaurants—Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant in Longboat Key, Beach House Restaurant in Bradenton Beach and Sandbar Restaurant in Anna Maria—is concerned about plastic pollution and has turned its attention to reducing their own impact in a number of ways.

The Chiles Restaurant Group is making significant strides in its efforts to be “plastic-free” and have implemented Single Stream Recycling in all three locations. This includes the introduction of a plastic cup alternative made exclusively of a commercial food grade cornstarch product which is completely biodegradable, unlike many other industry options. Other eco-initiatives include the elimination of all foam containers, saltine cracker wrappers and other non-biodegradable products normally associated with Food Service operations. Next steps include the introduction of a complete line of eco-friendly “to-go” containers and reusable packing crates for produce and seafood.

Chiles’ restaurants will communicate its environmentally-responsible actions through local restaurant marketing in the form of green messages designed to engage, educate and encourage its customers to join in their sustainable efforts to “Skip the Straw.” Equipped with ICC data and an understanding of the issue, the restaurants are spreading the word about what individuals can do to prevent marine debris, one straw at a time.

“As we ramp up our efforts to reduce our plastic footprint, we hope we can encourage others to do the same,” said Restaurant Group owner Ed Chiles.

YOU can take action, too. Sign the pledge to Skip the Straw and consider other ways to reduce single-use plastic in your life.

We are thrilled to work with environmentally-conscious businesses like the Chiles Restaurant Group. For more information on their “Skip the Straw” movement and other eco-initiatives, check out: http://www.islanddining.com.

Don’t forget to download Clean Swell and keep the data coming!

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Introducing the National Aquarium’s 48 Days of Blue http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/04/22/introducing-the-national-aquariums-48-days-of-blue/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/04/22/introducing-the-national-aquariums-48-days-of-blue/#comments Fri, 22 Apr 2016 17:00:44 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=11970

Did you know that more than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is water? As we celebrate Earth Day today, we want to pay a special tribute to the ocean!

The ocean is almost 4 billion years old. More than just a pleasant attribute, the ocean is responsible for controlling our climate and supporting our continued survival here on Earth. Their mere existence is what separates us from every other planet in our solar system.

In the 48 days between Earth Day (April 22) and World Oceans Day (June 8), help the National Aquarium give something back to our amazing, life-sustaining blue planet!

Every day, the National Aquarium will try to overcome an obstacle facing the ocean by asking us to complete smallconservation challenges.

Going a day without straws will keep 127 school buses worth of plastic from out of our natural spaces. Unplugging from our modern, electronic world for just 20 minutes can save enough energy to brew a cup of coffee.

Making these changes in our daily lives will benefit our own health, improve our communities AND help protect the ocean for future generations.

This movement is about more than just conservation; it’s about connecting a community of change-makers. Whether you’re down the street or continents away, our collective impact is equal, our challenges are similarly difficult and our successes will be felt and celebrated together, loudly!

Let’s not waste another minute. To join the 48 Days of Blue movement (and get your friends on board), click here!

Nabila Chami is the project lead for 48 Days of Blue. As the social media manager for the National Aquarium, she shares stories that connect the online world with our amazing blue planet every day. 


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5 Easy Ways to Keep Our Ocean Trash Free http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/04/22/5-easy-ways-to-keep-our-ocean-trash-free/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/04/22/5-easy-ways-to-keep-our-ocean-trash-free/#comments Fri, 22 Apr 2016 13:00:09 +0000 Erin Spencer http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=11960

Nothing ruins a sweeping ocean vista like…trash. Not only are piles of plastic an eyesore, they’re seriously harmful to the countless animals who call the ocean home. This Earth Day, take a minute to see how you can decrease your negative impacts on the ocean (and let’s be real, with 71% of the globe covered in water, shouldn’t we be calling this “Ocean Day”, anyway?).

Here at Ocean Conservancy, we’ve been working hard to keep trash off of our beaches and out of our oceans for three decades—but we can’t do it alone. Whether you’re a casual coastal visitor or frequent beach bum, here are five easy things you can do to keep our ocean trash free.

1. Stow it: Be a green boater with OC’s Good Mate program 

Working with the U.S. Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary with support from the Brunswick Foundation, Ocean Conservancy created Good Mate, a public outreach program that gives you simple, easy-to-follow guidelines for green boating. During this past Cleanup, almost 4,000 boaters traversed 416 miles of waterways removing nearly 83,000 pounds of trash. Check out our Good Mate Manual here.

2. Remove it: Clean up with the International Coastal Cleanup

For the past 30 years, Ocean Conservancy has worked with millions of volunteers all over the world to take action by removing and recording trash during our International Coastal Cleanup. An astounding 560,000 volunteers in 91 countries picked up more than 16 million pounds of trash in our 2014 cleanup, and the results from the 2015 Cleanup (to be published in May 2016) are even more staggering! Now, you can track your impact using out Clean Swell app, too!

3. Tap it: Drink water in a reusable bottle 

Americans buy more bottled water than any other nation worldwide, resulting in 29 billion water bottles consumed every year. And with only one out of every six water bottles ending up in the recycling bin, it’s no surprise that volunteers around the world found almost a million plastic beverage bottles during the 2015 International Coastal Cleanup. Stay hydrated and be kind to the ocean by reaching for a reusable bottle instead.

4. Butt out: Use an ashtray so cigarette butts don’t reach waterways and the ocean  

In our 2014 clean up, cigarette butts were the top item collected: Volunteers picked up over 2 million of them around the world! These butts not only clog up our beaches, they also contain thousands of little plastic particles that end up in the ocean (and inside ocean animals!)

5. Recycle it: Go the extra mile to sort and separate items that can be recycled 

The first step to perfecting your recycling routine is understanding what’s what. Different plastic items are made of different kinds of plastic; some kinds can go in your kitchen’s recycling bin, others can be dropped off at a nearby store, while some are pretty tough to recycle period. Crack the code by looking at the number inside the recycling symbol on your label or container, and check with your local municipality on their respective recycling guidelines. Download our guide to help demystify the recycling process.

Have any more ideas for how to keep our ocean trash free? Tell us in the comments below! And don’t forget to learn more about our Trash Free Seas program here at Ocean Conservancy.


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“Recycling Cougars” Are Fighting Back Against Plastic Trash http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/02/20/recycling-cougars-are-fighting-back-against-plastic-trash/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/02/20/recycling-cougars-are-fighting-back-against-plastic-trash/#comments Sat, 20 Feb 2016 14:30:05 +0000 Sarah Kollar http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=11524

During a single day of coastal and waterway cleanups, volunteers around the world collected nearly 990,000 plastic beverage bottles and 975,000 plastic bags. These efforts are truly amazing but the amount of debris in the environment, especially our ocean, is still daunting. Along with cleaning up what’s out there, we need to be proactive in stopping these common consumer items from reaching the environment in the first place.

Thankfully, there is a stellar group of sixth grade students who are showing us the way.  The Kittredge Magnet School’s “Recycling Cougars” of DeKalb, GA have been working to turn plastic water bottle and plastic bag recycling into a reality in their school and community.

This past fall, the five student team created signs, walked door-to-door and reached out to local businesses, churches and civic organizations, asking all to participate by separating out their plastic beverage bottles. They strategically posted signs and bins throughout their school and even sent flyers home with each student. The team gathered hundreds of pledges and collected around 700 plastic bottles in a week! Their drive earned them a national award, one of only 16, through the Lexus Eco Challenge.

Having mastered plastic bottles, the KMS Recycling Cougars are turning their attention to plastic bags for the “Final Phase” of the Lexus Eco Challenge. The team has delved into plastic pollution research and learned that plastic bags are particularly threatening to marine wildlife. They hope to form more recycling partnerships and garner more pledges on this initiative.

Moving forward, the team plans to promote the 6-Week Trash Free Challenge and hopes to establish a Talking Trash & Taking Action Young Ambassadors Program with Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas Team to help pave the way for more students who want to take charge on recycling in their communities. Ocean Conservancy is excited to work the KMS Recycling Cougars on their idea. No matter the outcome of the Eco Challenge, their campaign will surely inspire and motivate others to help eliminate trash in our ocean.

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The Ocean, At a Crossroads http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/07/03/the-ocean-at-a-crossroads/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/07/03/the-ocean-at-a-crossroads/#comments Fri, 03 Jul 2015 18:30:11 +0000 Sarah Cooley http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=10373 fish and corals in the Florida Keys

Photo: NOAA

This post is a collaboration between Sarah Cooley, Ph.D. (Ocean Conservancy), Ryan Kelly, Ph.D., J.D. (U. Washington) and C. Mark Eakin, Ph.D. (NOAA)

Readers of this blog know that ocean acidification is here, today. They also know that states on both coasts and the federal government are working to halt its progress and manage its impacts. But the ocean is heedless of borders. A healthy ocean future will require global action. That is why we have our eyes on December’s Paris climate conference (COP21). Decisions made there will determine whether our children will inherit a changed-but-recognizable ocean that still provides humanity with goods and services, or a damaged ocean lacking many resources we want. There is still time for us to reduce emissions and slow the warming and acidification of our ocean, but we have to act now. That is one of the conclusions we reach in a paper out today in Science.

World leaders at that Paris Climate meeting aim to “reach, for the first time, a legally binding agreement that will enable us to combat climate change effectively.” Our international science team was convened to ensure they have the latest and greatest research on the health of ocean ecosystems, and clear information about the ocean futures different CO2 emissions scenarios will produce. Our work will augment the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s reports.

We found that under a “business-as-usual” CO2 emission pathway, warming and acidification will have high to very high negative impacts on nearly every aspect of marine life we looked at, including seagrasses, warm-water corals, swimming snails, bivalve shellfish, krill, and finfish. Essentially, allowing CO2 emissions to continue to rise is very bad for large portions of ocean life.

Essentially, allowing CO2 emissions to continue to rise is very bad for large portions of ocean life.

That’s the story if the world doesn’t curb CO2 emissions. If we do make rapid CO2 emissions cuts, the risks of impacts to the marine organisms we considered are mostly moderate. There will be major damage to bivalves and warm water corals but the damage to other ocean ecosystems will be manageable. The ocean will be different from that of our ancestors, but coastal protection and key fisheries will likely remain intact. Therefore, it is essential to the oceans that we limit CO2 emissions in ways that keep the earth under 2°C of warming.

We also found that there are four main actions that humanity can take: reducing CO2, the cause of ocean warming and acidification; protecting ecosystems by building resilience; adapting human societies; and repairing damage that has already happened. Not surprisingly, the sooner we reduce CO2, the more options we have to protect, adapt, and repair. The longer we wait to reduce CO2 emissions, the more expensive and difficult it will be to guard our oceans from disruptive change… and the less likely these actions are to work.

Sarah Cooley is Science Outreach Manager at Ocean Conservancy. Follow her at @co2ley.

Ryan Kelly is an Assistant Professor at the University of Washington’s School of Marine and Environmental Affairs.

C. Mark Eakin serves as coordinator of NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch using satellites to track coral bleaching around the world. Follow him at: @MarkEakinCRW and Mark Eakin on Facebook.

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Make Your Holiday Greener http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/07/02/make-your-holiday-greener/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/07/02/make-your-holiday-greener/#comments Thu, 02 Jul 2015 12:04:15 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=10347

The Travel Foundation is a non-profit organization that works with the travel industry to integrate sustainable tourism into their business — to protect the environment and create opportunities for local people in tourism destinations. Their annual Make Your Holidays Greener Month, during July, celebrates the locations around the world we love to visit and encourages visitors and the travel industry alike to take part in a cleanup — the Big Holiday Beach Clean.

Earlier this year, a report from the World Wildlife Fund valued the world’s ocean at $24trillion – a figure largely calculated from the value of fishing, shipping and tourism.  Whilst many already view the ocean as priceless, the attempt to put a monetary value on it highlights to businesses around the world the importance of taking action to protect marine ecosystems.

For tourism, the ocean and sea are vastly important.  Many of the holidays we take have beaches and coastlines at their center and these environments are an inherent part of the product marketed by tourism companies to their customers.  As a result, this industry is well placed to mobilize action, particularly on the growing and pervasive threat of marine litter.

The Make Holidays Greener campaign is focusing its efforts on engaging travel companies and their customers in celebrating cleaner, greener beaches.  The campaign is organized by sustainable tourism charity, the Travel Foundation, in partnership with Travelife a sustainability certification system for hotels and accommodations.  The organizations are urging hotels, tour operators and other tourism companies to support the campaign by organizing a beach clean this July and by reducing plastic waste.

Beach cleans are a great way to engage customers, staff and local communities in a positive and memorable action, with publicity generated by the campaign helping to spread the message more widely. The Make Holidays Greener infographic about plastic waste, which has already been shared widely, highlights that everyone can make a difference by taking simple actions – such as disposing of litter and cigarette butts properly, taking a reusable bag and bottle to the beach and not using straws.

Plus, every bag of rubbish taken out of the environment makes a difference to birds, turtles, fish, dolphins and other marine life, and the more people who participate, the greater the impact. Last year the campaign gathered great momentum with over 100 companies taking part, cleaning 97 beaches in 22 countries.  It is hoped that these efforts will also feed into the Ocean Conservancy’s database and support further efforts to minimize waste going into our seas.

The campaign website makeholidaysgreener.org.uk features a range of free resources, including how to organize a beach clean, support for hotels to reduce plastic waste, and top tips for holidaymakers.  Follow us on Twitter, @TravelTF, and join the conversation using #greenerhols.

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