We can help preserve the Big Blue by adopting greener habits in our everyday lives.

To celebrate the month of love, let’s take a look at nine simple ways to love the ocean…

#1 | SAY NO TO PLASTIC

The global movement against plastic is gaining momentum. And with good reason: plastic is one of the most widespread ocean pollutants. Start making a difference today in three easy steps…

Refuse plastic straws. You don’t really need them, do you? Some restaurants have stopped offering plastic straws altogether, or replaced them with paper alternatives. Choose to drink straight from the glass, or consider reusable (and longer lasting) stainless steel straws instead. Marine creatures can choke on the little plastic pipes that end up in their watery world.

Get yourself some reusable shopping bags. Plastic packets are generally used once for an average of 20 minutes before being thrown away. And they’re among the millions of tons of plastic garbage items that reach the ocean every year. If you’re creative, make yourself a reusable shopping bag from fabric or even old clothes! Or buy one from eco-conscious retailers and take it with you every time you shop.

Bring your own coffee mug. How often do you stop for a latte or spiced mocha? Every time you purchase a coffee on the go, you use another disposable cup. These containers are made from plastic, plastic foam, or polystyrene. And millions of them find their way into the sea annually. Take along your favourite ceramic cup or travel mug when you grab your caffeine fix!

#2 | FIND OUT THE FACTS

The oceans comprise around 70% of our planet. But how much do we know about them? How much do we know about the life that lies beneath the waves? There’s a lot we’re unaware of – but we can learn. We must understand the threats to our marine ecosystem so that we can protect it. If we’re informed, then we’re equipped to make greener choices. Here are some documentaries to add to your watch list…

Wonders of the Sea 3D. Oceanographer Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society teams up with actor and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to give viewers a visual feast and a much-needed wake-up call.

Learn more here: www.wondersofthesea3d.com

Mission Blue. Oceanographer Dr Sylvia A. Earle campaigns to save the seas from threats such as overfishing and toxic waste. She’s made it her life’s mission to speak for the ocean and to challenge humankind to take action before it’s too late.

Learn more here: Mission Blue on Netflix

Blue Planet and Blue Planet II. Sir David Attenborough narrates these wondrous BBC Earth explorations of the marine world – and issues an urgent appeal after uncovering staggering evidence of the marine impact of plastic pollution.

Learn more here: Blue Planet II on BBC Earth

#3 | CLEAN UP YOUR BEACH

Have you ever organised a beach cleanup with your friends and family? You’ll be amazed at the difference you can make in just a few hours! With millions of tons of plastic waste and other trash ending up in our oceans each year, it’s vital that we do our part to keep our shores as clean as possible. Remember these safety tips when you’re collecting rubbish on the beach…

Wear closed shoes. It’s possible to find broken glass, metal shards, sharp objects and even drug syringes in the sand. Make sure your feet are protected! Closed shoes like takkies or hiking boots are recommended.

Wear gloves. Unless you’ve got one of those tong-like contraptions, you’re probably going to collect trash with your own two hands. Protect them and keep them clean by wearing sturdy gloves (like gardening gloves).

Mind the sun. Apply sunscreen to protect your skin from harmful rays. Wear a hat and sunglasses to shield your face and eyes. Aim to do your beach cleanup in the morning or late afternoon. Avoid midday when the sun is at its harshest.

Stick together and work together. Security can be a concern on some South African beaches. We all know it’s a reality. We’ve all seen a crime-related newspaper headline at some point. Stay in a group and work together as a team to collect and sort the trash.

#4 | BIN YOUR CIGARETTE BUTTS

The vast majority of the 5.6 trillion cigarettes produced globally every year come with filters made of cellulose acetate, which is a form of plastic. When a cigarette butt is tossed away on the beach, it’s very likely to end up in the sea. And then the wind and the waves could carry it across the world, into an ocean gyre, or into the stomach of an unsuspecting marine creature.

If you’re a smoker, think before you flick! Most public places have trash cans or dedicated cigarette bins for the disposal of cigarette butts. Please use them!

#5 | GO TO THE AQUARIUM

Have you ever been inside an aquarium and stopped to look at the other people looking into the tanks? From toddlers to teens and adults to the aged, the sense of wonder is the same.

Children have a natural curiosity about life beneath the waves. When we teach them to respect the marine ecosystem, we cultivate compassion. We create a sense of responsibility. And these building blocks are the foundations of conservation, aren’t they? A caring attitude. A desire to protect.

Celebrate the extraordinary beauty and diversity of the underwater world! Tell your young ones why it’s vital to preserve the blue part of this planet. Show them what they can do to help. Guide them as they explore aquariums, animal sanctuaries and marine parks. Let them learn to love the ocean today so that they can make a difference tomorrow.

We have several amazing aquariums and research facilities here in South Africa! The beautiful Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town is one of my partner organisations – and also one of my favourite places to visit!

#6 | ENJOY THE SEA RESPONSIBLY

Many of us spend our leisure time on the waves. It’s important to remember that we’re visitors in the marine environment. It’s the watery domain of hundreds of thousands of species – and our behaviour affects them all.

Beach walkers, beach runners, swimmers, surfers, kite-surfers, kayakers, paddle-boarders, boogie-boarders, snorkelling enthusiasts, scuba divers, boat owners, jet ski joyriders, and other ocean fans, let’s be more responsible about our recreational activities.

Respect the space. Be aware of the local creatures in the water and on the beach. It’s their turf, after all.

Keep it clean. Don’t litter. Don’t throw trash into the sea. Bring a poop scoop if you’re walking the dogs!

#7 | BUY SEA-FRIENDLY PRODUCTS

Some of the premier running shoes manufactured by adidas contain yarn made from recovered plastic. The company worked alongside Parley for the Oceans to develop a special thread from plastic trash found on beaches and shorelines around the world.

Is your shampoo bottle sea-friendly? In 2017, Head and Shoulders released the world’s first recyclable shampoo bottle made from recovered beach plastic. The bottle was produced with the help of recycling experts at TerraCycle and the Suez waste management group in Europe.

We can love the ocean by choosing greener products. And by supporting environmentally friendly suppliers.

#8 | SPEAK FOR THE SEA

You can make a difference in the global movement to save our seas by using your voice. Tell your family about the effects of plastic pollution and encourage them to support organisations working for change. Then do the same with your friends, your colleagues, your acquaintances, the people waiting at the train station, the customers in line at the shop. Anyone. Everyone. Make the circle bigger. Spread the message far and wide. And lead by example.

#9 | REDUCE YOUR ENERGY BILL

Researchers have linked climate change to rising sea levels and the acidification of the oceans. Both problems are already having negative effects on marine ecosystems around the world. You’ve heard about bleached coral reefs and dwindling fish stocks, right?

Start taking small steps to lower your energy bill so that you can reduce your carbon footprint…

* Insulate your home
* Maintain your cooling and/or heating systems
* Install energy-saving light bulbs
* Switch off appliances when not in use

The future of marine ecosystems depends on the actions we take right now.

Let’s be responsible.

And let’s take responsibility.

Love the ocean today and every day!

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