Everyday Actions

No matter where you live in California you can impact the ocean… for better or worse. We want to keep our seas healthy and thriving. By choosing to live more sustainably, you can help play a role in ocean conservation and global environmental health.

Here are a few examples of steps you can take to keep our beautiful marine ecosystem healthy and thriving. By scaling back on water use, reducing energy consumption, limiting the amount of waste we produce and being mindful of how our actions impact the natural environment, we can do our part to say “Thank You Ocean.

What You Can Do…

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SAVE WATER

As California faces a historic drought, we need to be extra cautious in how we use our water resources. Homes use a significant amount of water to keep up with our daily needs. This is especially true if you have a garden to keep up. In the U.S., 30% of household water consumption is used outdoors in the average home. In dry climates, it can be as high as 70% because we require more water to keep gardens green. Save water and save money by following these tips!

At Home
  • Install a high-efficiency toilets (HET) to conserve precious water. California has a water supply shortage and conserving every drop counts. Find out more information here.
  • Take shorter showers and install low-flow shower fittings, like EPA’s WaterSense products to save water (and cut down on expensive bills).
  • Sweep your driveway clean instead of hosing it down.

To Be Healthy

  • Never release aquarium fish or other marine creatures into oceans, rivers, or estuaries. They can introduce new illnesses to native fish species. To find out how to properly dispose of your aquarium fish, click here.
  • Don’t buy live saltwater fish caught in the wild for your aquarium. Be sure to choose marine life that are acquired safely, and sustainably.
  • Don’t flush kitty litter. Cats can host a deadly pathogen, called Toxoplasmosis gondii, which appears to contribute to nearly 40 percent of the mortality in California sea otters observed in the past several years. Dispose of kitty litter in trash receptacles instead of flushing it down the toilet.
  • Keep trash and chemicals out of storm drains. This includes pet waste. Storm drains flow into the sea and can pollute the water and cause beach closures.
  • Use eco-friendly laundry detergent. Avoid detergents that have phosphates, bleach, or nonylphenol ethoxylate (NPE) because these are bad for our bodies and bad for the ocean.
  • Never flush your out of date prescriptions down the toilet, find a take back location to dispose of your medications properly. Otherwise they end up back in our water supply, or in the ocean where they don’t belong.
  • Dispose of hazardous materials properly. Household cleaning products, paint, pesticides, fluorescent light bulbs, and batteries pose a threat to water quality. Find more information about free collection centers.
  • For your baby’s health and the environment’s use diapers that are biodegradable and chemical-free.

In the Garden

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  • Collect rainwater and use it on your plants! Learn how to DIY here.
  • Don’t water your lawn every day and make sure to check your sprinkler system frequently and adjust sprinklers so only your lawn is watered and not the house, sidewalk or street.
  • Water in the morning or evening when the water won’t evaporate as quickly. This can help you save water.
  • Put a layer of mulch around trees and plants to reduce evaporation and keep the soil cool. Organic mulch also improves soil quality and prevents weeds.
  • Plant a native plant garden. Native plants are more suited to your local climate and can help reduce the use of water and fertilizers.
  • Avoid use of chemical fertilizers (which causes pollution, and helps create excessive algae blooms in the ocean such as red tides) or peat moss (which comes from ancient bogs that cannot regenerate), instead make your own mulch and use organic fertilizers only when needed.
  • Collect greywater from your bathroom sinks, showers, tubs, and washing machines, and use it on your landscape. Learn how to install a greywater system at GreyWaterAction.org.

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REDUCE ENERGY CONSUMPTION

When we conserve energy resources by limiting our use of coal, oil, and natural gas, our nation enjoys cleaner air and a healthier environment. We protect the climate by reducing greenhouse gases. Take action by completing a few simple home appliance renovations and always choose the eco-friendly option in your daily energy consumption activities.

  • Purchase Energy Star appliances. These products hold a high standard for energy efficiency and save both energy and money.
  • Only run a full dishwasher and air-dry your dishes to save water and energy.
  • Turn off lights, radio, or TV when you are not in the room.
  • Replace old bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs. These bulbs last longer and use less energy.
  • Wash your clothes in cold water.

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  • In sunny weather, hang dry your clothes, rather than using an electric dryer.
  • Hot out? Save energy by using fans instead of the air conditioner and keep your curtains closed to block out sunlight. If you must use the A/C, set the thermostat to a higher temperature like 81 degrees instead of 75 degrees.
  • Cold out? Save energy by using a space heater sparingly, set your thermostat to a lower temperature, and bundle up in a sweater and extra blankets to stay warm!
  • Clean or replace furnace or A/C filters once a month so it runs efficiently.
  • Find and plug leaks. Feel around your door or window frame for a draft, then seal with weather-stripping or caulking.

While Traveling

  • Carpool, walk, ride a bike, or take public transit. Help keep roads cleaner from motor oil, which also improves our air quality. Even one day a week can make a difference in saving gas and reducing carbon emissions.

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  • Drive the speed limit to save money on gas and obey the law.
  • Only use air conditioning when you are on the freeway. Open your windows while on city streets to cool down your car.

DON’T BE WASTEFUL

When you throw something away, where does it go? Keep in mind that “away” doesn’t actually exist! Existing landfills are filling up quickly. In the U.S., 250 million tons of trash is produced each year. Always remember to Reduce, Reuse & Recycle… in that order!

  • Try to REUSE before even considering to recycle bottles, cans, plastic, paper and old electronics.
  • Bring your own reusable cup for your study time coffee or latte, because disposable cups can end up as marine debris. At work, you can leave a mug or water bottle and stay hydrated without wasting cups.
  • Use reusable containers and utensils for your lunch items and carry them in your own cloth bag or lunchbox.
  • Bring your own reusable bags. Keep harmful plastic bags from ending up in a landfill or in the ocean.

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  • Donate old clothes, furniture and appliances to a local thrift store instead of throwing them out.
  • Compost food scraps. Food scraps make up 20–30% of our daily waste and making compost prevents scraps from entering landfills and emitting methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
  • Compost your yard trimmings by gathering grass and tree cuttings to dispose of as green waste.
  • Try paperless billing. Most companies now go paperless so you can easily pay your bills online and save paper.
  • Cancel unwanted catalogues. Reduce your junk mail and save paper by unsubscribing at Catalogechoice.org.
  • Save trees and produce less trash at the same time! Use both sides of the paper when writing or printing. On your printer put settings on “duplexing” to use both sides. You can also set the printer to reduce the size of copies, putting two sheets of paper on one side together.
  • Avoid products with excess packaging. Buy fresh and local. Buy from bulk bins and avoid packages with individually wrapped items. Reducing excess packaging and plastics reduces marine debris.
  • Choose products made from organic, biodegradable and post-consumer waste materials. Reduce waste by purchasing recycled materials.
  • Clean up and properly dispose of items in trash and recycling cans. Each trip to the river or beach you can help the ocean. Even if it is not yours, please pick it up!

 

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PROTECT THE NATURAL WORLD
Remember that we share the earth with hundreds of millions of other species who all play vital roles in maintaining a balanced ecosystem. While it may not appear that way, many of our activities, even those done within the boundaries of our home, can have a direct impact on the health of local plants and animals. Recall these tips during your daily life to protect the natural environment.

While doing daily chores…

  • Try hand-washing clothes instead of dry cleaning. We all love the look of our nice clothes fresh from the dry cleaners, but harsh chemicals will harm the environment. Try hand washing in cold water or find an eco-friendly dry cleaning company in your city.
  • Use non-toxic products. Check out the Environmental Working Group’s list of non-toxic household cleaners, or make your own!
  • Use eco-friendly laundry detergent. Avoid detergents that have phosphates, bleach or nonylphenol ethoxylate (NPE) because these are bad for our bodies and bad for the ocean.
  • Never flush your out of date prescriptions down the toilet; instead, find a take back location to dispose of your medications properly. Otherwise they end up back in our water supply, or in the ocean where they don’t belong.

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  • Dispose of hazardous materials properly. Household cleaning products, paint, pesticides, fluorescent light bulbs and batteries pose a threat to water quality. Find more information about free collection centers.
  • For your baby’s health and the environment’s health use diapers that are biodegradable and chemical-free.
  • Don’t flush kitty litter. Cats can host a deadly pathogen, called Toxoplasmosis gondii, which appears to contribute to nearly 40 percent of the mortality in California sea otters observed in the past several years. Dispose of kitty litter in trash receptacles instead of flushing it down the toilet.
  • Cut up plastic 6-pack rings before you recycle, or choose to buy items that are not packaged with 6-pack rings. If this trash makes it to the ocean, a sea creature can easily get wrapped up and entangled.

While gardening…

  • Plant an organic garden. Pesticides from lawns and gardens can wash into the ocean and contribute to harmful algal blooms (HABs) like red tides and other polluting water quality issues.
  • Avoid use of chemical fertilizers, which causes pollution, and helps create excessive algae blooms in the ocean, such as red tides or peat moss (which comes from ancient bogs that cannot regenerate). Instead, make your own mulch and use organic fertilizers only when needed.

In your kitchen…

  • Make smart seafood choices. Buy seafood that you know is being harvested sustainably and doesn’t contain heavy metals, such as mercury, that pose a risk to human health. Consult the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch guide (of their mobile app!), or NOAA’s Fish Watch that identifies the best choices to make to help preserve these fish stocks for future generations.

  • Never eat shark fin soup. The collection of sharks for this product is reducing the population of shark species worldwide.
  • Eat lower on the marine food chain. Save large predators – tuna, shark and swordfish – for luxury meals to decrease the pressure on these fisheries. These often have relatively high levels of mercury and should not be consumed on a regular basis for health and sustainability reasons.
  • Buy local: Buy food and drink made from local companies. Support your local farmer’s market and food cooperatives (find them through Local Harvest).
  • Avoid eating animal products as much as possible. Try going meatless at least once a week and encourage your friends to support Meatless Mondays too!

ENJOY THE ECO-FRIENDLY LIFESTYLE

Here are even more ways to live more sustainably in your everyday life.

  • If you are planning a vacation on a cruise ship, choose only environmentally responsible cruise ships for your next vacation.
  • Get out and enjoy the beautiful ocean! Get lessons on surfing, kayaking, snorkeling or SCUBA diving or take a whale watching cruise.

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  • Don’t purchase items that exploit marine resources unnecessarily such as coral jewelry and supplements such as coral calcium and shark cartilage. The nutrients these supplements allegedly provide are easily obtained from other food sources such as green leafy vegetables.
  • Don’t buy live saltwater fish caught in the wild for your aquarium. Be sure to choose marine life that are acquired safely and sustainably.
  • Join a beach clean-up! California Coastal Cleanup Day is always the third Saturday in September. You can also check with your local ocean conservation organization to find clean-ups near you year-round.
  • Donate your time and/or financial resources to conservation organizations. You can donate to the Thank You Ocean campaign by clicking here.
  • Teach children to respect nature and the environment. Take them on hikes, beach exploring or camping. Help them plant a tree, pick up litter or learn about the ocean. Be a good example and role model.

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  • Vote for those that protect the ocean and coast.
  • Remember that one person can make a difference. Small accomplishments add up quicker than you might think. So volunteer with an organization or conduct your own solo beach clean-up!
  • Visit your local aquarium to see ocean life close-up.
  • Join a marine mammal rescue center and volunteer your time.
  • Tell others about what they can do to help the sea and spread the word about cleaning up our ocean.