1. Using products with micro beads
Micro beads are tiny beads which are often found in products such as exfoliators and toothpastes. They are usually quite small and as such, typically, don’t get caught during the wastewater treatment process. Instead, they go straight into the ocean where they can harm sea creatures.
In fact, a single cleansing product can contain almost 36,000 micro beads. This can cause incredible damage to the ocean.
What you can do about it: If you aren’t sure which companies still use micro beads in their products, you can do some research to see what the brand uses.
Alternatively, you can download the Beat The Microbead app and use it to scan the products you wish to buy. This app will let you know if micro beads are being used in the product.
Always choose to buy products from companies who have gotten rid of micro beads such as Lush, St Ives and Clarins.
2. Every time you flip a switch
Every time you turn on a light, charge your phone or flick the television on, you are creating carbon emissions. Carbon emissions are dangerous to the ocean because of the fact that it is able to absorb it.
The more carbon emissions the ocean absorbs, the more acidic the water becomes. This can lead to the bleaching of corals and the disruption of marine life.
The more carbon dioxide that gets released into the environment, the worse the conditions in the ocean will get.
What you can do about it: While it is true that the real carbon dioxide culprits are big factories and corporations, we can all do our part to help out.
Be mindful of your electricity consumption and switch off lights and heaters when they are not in use. You should also consider utilising public transport instead of private cars when travelling.
3. Eating seafood
The link between eating too much seafood and its effect on the ocean is a pretty clear one. When the demand for seafood rises, fisherman then start fishing more to supply the demand. This can lead to overfishing.
Overfishing is when a species of fish is removed from an area faster than they can repopulate. This usually leads to an extinction of the species which can be incredibly harmful for the ocean as well as humans.
Imagine one day not being able to get your favourite salmon sashimi because you’ve been irresponsibly buying it from companies which do not practice sustainable fishing.
Overfishing is also usually tied with bycatch. Bycatch is when other marine animals get caught alongside the fish that are sought after. For example, sea turtles and dolphins often get tangled up in fishing nets which ultimately lead to their deaths.
What you can do about it: You don’t have to give up your favourite sashimi dinners just yet. Instead, check out brochures such as the WWF Singapore Seafood Guide to find out out how different fish are caught and where they are from. This will help you make better decisions when it comes to purchasing fish.
4. Buying too much stuff
It’s 2019 and these days, we don’t even have to leave our houses if we choose not to. Online shopping has become so convenient and easy that everyone does it. However, did you know that your Colourpop order from America could be causing the deaths of many sea creatures?
As the years have gone by, we have begun to consume products faster and faster. Because of this, more ships are needed to transport these goods to factories to be made or into the hands of the consumers.
This poses a problem for many whales. Whales communicate using sounds and so the loud sounds from ships interfere with that. This can be incredibly stressful for whales and usually means that they mate or feed less.
Some whales even collide with ships which can threaten the already endangered species.
What you can do about it: Consider only purchasing what you need instead of over-buying. Look at what you have and consider if you really need something before purchasing it. This practice will save you money as well!
5. Using pads and tampons
When it comes to reducing our usage of single-use plastics, we turn to straws and cups and plastic wrapping. However, we often fail to consider that our periods may be a major contributor to the pollution of oceans as well.
In a woman’s lifetime, she can throw away thousands of pads or tampons. Pads and tampons which do contain a high amount of plastic which is not biodegradable.
In fact, they can be just as dangerous as plastic bags. They can be ingested by animals or trap them and can kill them. And that’s just one woman. Multiply that by billions and you will realise just how dangerous disposable period products are.
What you can do about it: Consider switching to non-disposable period products such as cloth pads and menstrual cups.
It is certainly very easy to simply slap on a pad or use a tampon. Cloth pads and menstrual cups require more effort and are not always the most convenient option.
However, these products can really save the planet in the long run. Plus, most menstrual cups can be used for about 10 years. Imagine how much money you would save!
If you’re new to menstrual cups, consider buying a Freedom Cup. Freedom cups are smaller than the international standard which makes them less daunting and more feasible for Asian women.
Freedom Cup also donates one menstrual cup to a woman who can’t afford it for every woman who buys one.
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You may think that your little garden outside your home is doing no harm. In fact, how can growing your own plants and vegetables be a bad thing?
Growing your own fruit, vegetables and herbs does mean that you reduce a lot of the pollution that comes with mass farming and mass transportation. That is certainly a good thing.
However, if you are not gardening responsibly, you could actually be contributing to the killing of wildlife in the oceans.
Chemical fertilisers, weed killers and pesticides that are used in gardens can often find their way into drains and various waterways. These can then find their way into our oceans.
Fertilisers, with their abundance of nutrients, can help algae to grow at an unnatural rate. Algae has natural toxins which can poison marine life.
Algae, being a plant, also needs a lot of oxygen. So when algae uses up all the oxygen in a particular spot, other animals can no longer survive.
What you can do about it: Consider adding nutrients to your soil naturally instead of using chemicals. Things such as bones, blood, fish, food leftovers and more can really add nutrients.
You could also opt to grow plants that are native to the environment you are in. This means that they will be able to adapt to the climate better and will need less fertiliser and labour.
In Singapore, some good options would be aloe vera, cherry tomatoes or orchids.
7. Supporting companies which exploit marine life
In this day and age, you may be surprised to learn that marine life is still being exploited for food and jewellery. You may also be surprised to learn that there is actually quite a great demand for it.
For example, coral is still being used to make jewellery as they can be very beautiful. However, that means that you are stealing them from the ocean, killing them and disrupting the ecosystem.
The same goes for sharks fin food products. Sharks are captured and they have their fins sliced off. They are later thrown back into the ocean. However, without their fins, sharks often cannot swim properly and many will sink to the seabed and eventually die from starvation.
While you may not be directly purchasing sharks fin soup or coral based jewellery, simply supporting these companies gives them the licence to keep doing what they are doing.
What you can do about it: If you would like mementos of your time on holiday, take pictures instead of buying jewellery from shops. Alternatively, you could look up exactly what goes into a product before you purchase it.
Another good thing to do is to look up a restaurant’s menu online before patronising it to make sure they have no sharks fin on their menu.
8. Picking up shells from the beach
Beach combing may seem like an innocent thing to do. After all, you are simply picking up shells without living creatures in them.
However, when you consider just how many tourists are engaging in this practice, you would realise that we are taking away a large number of shells from the beach.
This can affect the ecosystem and endanger animals which rely on these shells to stay alive.
For example, birds use sea shells to help make their nests. Shells also provide a space for algae and microorganisms to attach to and grow. Fish and hermit crabs on the other hand, use shells to hide from danger. Shells are important to our ecosystem and by removing them, we are hurting the environment and our oceans.
What you can do about it: Instead of combing the beach for shells, consider taking pictures to preserve your memories.
An alternative is to comb the beach for trash instead to help get rid of it. This can even be a fun activity among friends or with your children. Just be mindful of what your kids are picking up or ensure that they wear gloves.
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