Offshore drilling. Oil spills. Fracking. Warming water. Pollution. Ocean acidification. The threats facing our ocean today may at times feel overwhelming. Sometimes, what you can do by yourself can feel like only a drop in the bucket. But, individual actions scale up to make a big difference.  The ocean is resilient, but it still needs our help. There are so many ways you can fight our reliance on dirty energy, both in your home and in your community…

 

Reduce Your Use

The best way to defend the ocean is to keep fossil fuels in the ground. Reducing your own carbon emissions and dependence on dirty energy is a simple and immediate way to protect life under the waves.

Everyone has a responsibility to reduce their personal carbon footprint, and luckily, there are countless ways to do so! You may be happy to discover that when you cut carbon, you also cut cost. To make things easier, we have put together some carbon cutting opportunities for you…

Cut the Trash

We use tons of plastic. From food packaging to the interior of your car, plastic permeates our daily lives, whether we’re aware of it or not. Each year, approximately 335 million metric tons of plastics are produced, and over 8 million tons of that end up in our ocean annually.

But what does this have to do with dirty energy? Well, plastics are actually made using fossil fuels. In fact, roughly 6% of U.S. petroleum consumption goes to plastic production. Our dependence on plastic and the U.S.’s dependence on fossil fuels are closely linked. Revolution can start with simply reducing, reusing, and recycling. Currently, less than 5% of plastics are recycled. By drinking from a reusable water bottle and investing in sustainable grocery bags, you are helping fight against the many consequences that stem from convenience.

Related: Six Easy Choices You Can Make Each Day to Curb Ocean Plastics

 

Travel Mindfully

Planes, trains, and automobiles. We rely on them to get where we need to go. The faster, the better— for us, that is. . . not so much for the environment. Transportation, which includes trains, trucks, ships, planes, cars, and other vehicles, represents over 28% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Only the electricity sector tops that!

There are many little ways you can minimize your carbon footprint and still get where you need to go, whether it’s off to the beach or to the office.

With summer just around the corner, make sure your vacation supports sustainable tourism. Before packing your bags, do some research to find the most eco-friendly hotel, airline, and recreational activity options. Consider skipping the cruise ship. Every day, the average cruise ship generates 15 gallons of hazardous chemical waste, 7 tons of garbage, 165+ tons of CO2, and 30,000 gallons of sewage. Ocean adventures are an amazing way to learn and connect more with life under the sea — just make sure you are not unintentionally causing more harm when you visit!

In the meantime, check out our blogs on Cars and Air Travel for easy tips on how to green your daily commute. You may just save some money along the way!

 

Minimize Meat

You are what you eat. And you likely eat a lot of carbon.

Do you know how much fuel goes into what you eat? Food production and consumption contribute 19-29% of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions each year.  

We are told to eat consciously and stay active because it’s good for our health. Equally important, staying fit is good for the health of the planet. This doesn’t mean you have to become a full-fledged vegetarian – there are still easy ways to reduce the carbon emission of your diet today.

Your position as a consumer gives you tremendous power.  Try to buy local! The average food item in America travels 1500 miles from farm to plate. By buying local, not only are you not contributing to gas-guzzling transportation, you will inherently be shopping more seasonally! When it comes to seafood especially, you can help vulnerable species recover by not indulging during fish breeding or spawning times. Even if you don’t want to abandon the big chains just yet, seek out brands and labels that indicate your groceries were processed sustainably.

Vegetarians save 3000 pounds of CO2 per year compared to meat eaters. So reduce your consumption of beef & dairy. Sound impossible? Start out slow, and try to eat vegetarian at least once a week. Raising livestock has a greater impact on the environment than any other food we eat. Not only does it require a lot of energy, water, and land to raise livestock, but cow farts can be deadly. Each year, a single cow releases between 150-260 pounds of methane into the atmosphere, which is 72 times more potent than CO2 over a 20 year period.

Make ocean-friendly seafood choices. Don’t know what they are? You aren’t alone. We think the best resource is the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program, which provides specific diet guides that outline best choices, good alternatives, and things to avoid. Near the coast? Catch your own or eat locally! Lots of fuel goes into catching, freezing, and transporting the seafood that ends up on your plate. Eat smaller fish. Fisheries producing small fish like sardines, mackerel, and anchovies are among the most energy and carbon-efficient forms of protein production.

Plant a garden and compost your leftovers. Nothing’s more local than your own backyard! Over 30% of food prepared in the U.S. ends up uneaten in landfills, producing methane as it rots as well as carbon emissions from its transport.

 

Reduce What You Can & Offset the Rest

Your carbon footprint is like your shadow: it will never truly go away. While we encourage you to do your best to tread lightly, we understand that there are limits to what you can do on your own.

That’s where blue carbon comes in! Seagrass Grow can take you that last mile by offsetting your unavoidable CO2 emissions. Learn how you can go carbon neutral today!

 

Demand Action!

The U.S. is supposed to be a nation run by the people, for the people. Yet, more often than not, elected officials seem to acting more in accordance with personal (or rather, corporate) agendas than in line with the people’s best interests.

As we move into another election season, remember, your members of Congress work for you! Now is the time to pick up the phone and remind representatives of that. Even in this digital age, a phone call remains the most effective way to immediately have your voice heard. Emails, tweets, and Facebook posts can all too easily be disregarded; whereas calls have to be tallied by staffers and can seriously disrupt a congressional office.

Don’t know who to call? Check out VoteSmart to learn more about where your representatives stand on current issues, along with how to get in touch with them. Unsure of what to say? The website 5calls (which encourages you to “spend 5 minutes, make 5 calls”) offers progressive scripts on pending issues. Hold your representatives accountable and make your voice heard.

 

Divest

As long as there’s a demand for oil and gas, fossil fuel companies will continue to profit of the supply. But what if we start demanding otherwise?

Living in U.S., we are all automatically complicit in fossil fuel consumption– from everyday plastic usage to patronage of major corporations and institutions? All too often, the burden for instigating change falls on private citizens. While we all should take ownership of our personal impact, we should also start demanding that the larger industries do their part as well! Demand divestment!

Every swipe of a credit card is a vote cast. Make sure that your money isn’t inadvertently going into the deep pockets of big oil by looking at what strings are attached to your university, your 401k, your favorite museum, and your regular grocery store. Websites like Fossil Free Funds and DivestInvest can help uncover the (~decomposing dinosaur~) skeletons in everyone’s closets. Whether you end up divesting your personal assets or campaign that a larger institution acts ethically,  at the end of the day, divestment is an investment in our ocean’s future.

 

Make Your Voice Heard

No matter who you are or where you’re from, your voice is integral to instigating change. Team CURRENTS has organized petitions by both zip code and topic, helping your voice go farther. We submit petitions to governments at a global, national, and local level to present a united front in the fight to defend our global ocean, its inhabitants, and those who rely on it. Now is the time to join together and finally wash our hands of dirty energy!

 


Header Photo: Ravi Pinisetti via Unsplash