SUN, SEA AND SUSTAINABILITY: LOOKING AFTER OUR COASTS AND BEACHES


Let’s face it: we all love a day at the beach. There’s something nostalgic, peaceful and truly wild about being by the sea, looking to the horizon across the blue and soaking up the raw coastal landscape. But there’s no denying that our oceans – like many of our wild playgrounds – need our help and protection, especially if we want to take to the waves and soak up the sun for years to come. Luckily you can do all that and still do your bit to protect the planet, with a few insider tips on how to make a difference. Guilt-free beach day? Sign us up.

Getting there

We probably don’t need to remind you about reducing your carbon footprint, but how you get to and from your chosen destination is the real kicker, even if you’re staying in the UK. Heading to the South Coast for a surfing trip with your mates? Get on that car share bandwagon or take public transport wherever possible. If you can’t resist clear water and white sandy beaches, consider how you can offset your airmiles throughout the rest of the year, so your overall footprint is lower. 

 

There’s more you can do on location too. Try choosing a destination that allows you to travel around on foot or by bike – you don’t go to the beach to spend half the time in your car, right? Check out local walking and cycle routes, and bike hire too. Besides, any way of getting around that means moving more is a yes from us. 

Leave no trace

It seems simple right? If you take anything with you to the beach, you don’t leave anything behind. But it’s too easy to let a crisp packet blow away on a windy day or think that an apple core or banana skin will biodegrade over time. Even compostables have a negative impact on the environment if you leave them behind, so be organised and take rubbish bags with you, making sure to separate your compostables, recyclables and non-recyclables so you can properly dispose of them when you get home. Better still, do some litter picking if you see anything lying round – it might not be the most glamourous of beach activities, but if you can do what someone else hasn’t, you’ll make even more of a difference. 

What to wear

You can do all the carbon offsetting and car sharing you like, but the gear you’re wearing needs to make an impact too. Choose brands who are actively working to be more sustainable, using less water, recycled or organic materials (particularly plastics), or making changes to their supply chain to improve the environmental impact of their product. Check out brands such as Patagonia and Tentree, and ranges like Roxy Repreve for gear that does good and looks good too. 

Human-powered

It goes without saying that human-powered activity has less environmental impact than anything relying on an engine, so choose wisely. Ditch the jet ski and use your snowboard skills on the water with a surfboard or kiteboard instead. Instead of tearing up the dunes in a buggy, challenge yourself with a barefoot run along the sand or get yourself a dune board instead. Avoid the plastic inflatables and take it back to basics with wild swimming or give stand-up paddle boarding a try. And finally, if you’re looking for a bit of seaside zen, take your mat to the water’s edge or simply practice yoga on the sand, with the sounds of the waves to guide your breath. Bliss. 

Stem the tide on plastic

It’s no secret that one of the biggest threats to our oceans – in particularly, wildlife – is plastic. And it’s one thing to avoid it when you’re by the sea and it’s front of mind, but if we want to make a real difference, we have to make a lifelong change in our everyday lives. Make a conscious effort to choose plastic-free options, or if that’s possible, packaging or product that’s made from recycled plastic. Reuse and recycle everything you can and think about investing in long-lasting plastic alternatives for your adventures, such as reusable drinks bottles, wax food wraps, metal straws or bamboo travel products. These might seem like small changes, but if everyone made them it could have a big impact. 

Support environmental charities

If you’ve got a few pennies to spare and want to make even more of a difference to our coastal environments, there are plenty of charities doing excellent work to protect our UK waterways and coasts, and the wildlife that relies on those environments for habitat. Even if you can’t offer monetary support, helping to raise awareness will still contribute to their efforts and give others the chance to support them too. 


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