Laura Parker Roerden writes, consults, and speaks about kids’ connection to themselves, each other, and the earth. She directs Ocean Matters, a nonprofit that helps save threatened marine resources. She thinks today’s young people are reason to be hopeful about the environmental problems facing us. She lives on Jo-Erl Farm, a fifth generation family farm with her husband, three boys, and an assortment of fruit trees and farm animals. You can find her online at Salt from the Earth and on Twitter @LParkerRoerden.
We hear so much discouraging news about the world’s oceans. We have fished 90% of the world’s largest fish stocks; bringing popular fish to the brink of collapse such as tuna and cod. There are patches of dead zones from factory farming run-off carried from rivers into our oceans. Critical ocean habit is being destroyed including the removal of mangroves (nurseries for fisheries) to the wholesale removal of all marine life through the trawling of the bottom. Warming waters threaten coral reefs and raise sea level. More than 5 trillion plastic particles weighing 268,940 tons are estimated to be floating in our oceans, breaking down into dangerous chemicals that are concentrating in the food chain—our food chain. And our oceans are acidifying, leading to interruption in reproductive cycles of shell forming organisms.
But the ocean is resilient; there is fortunately much to be done to help her heal. Here are five things you can do to make a difference to the world’s oceans.
- Reduce, Recycle, Refuse and Rethink Plastics Use: Keeping plastics out of our oceans is a great first step and one that we can easily take on in our homes. Start by refusing to use single use plastics, such as plastic bags in grocery stores, water bottles, straws, plastic utensils. You can buy wonderful non-disposable versions of each of these to carry in your car or purse and make a big difference. Finally, pressure your local schools to reduce their plastic waste too: Take the Last Straw Challenge at Ocean Matters.
- Eat Sustainable Seafood Only: Download the sustainable seafood app from the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch website. Knowledge is power. Not only will you be making better choices when you shop or eat out, you’ll be pressuring suppliers to clean up their act on fishing practices. They won’t do buy it if they can’t sell it.
- Buy Organic Produce and Pastured Meat from Small Producers: The nitrogen run off (poop and fertilizers) that enter rivers and end up in the ocean are the main cause of dead zones in the oceans. Search out local options, like Jo-Erl Farm, from small producers who are employing organic practices.
- Vote for Representatives Who Include the Environment in their Platform: Furthermore, support the creation of Marine Protected Areas, which allow seed stock for fisheries to do their important work of replenishing the oceans.
- Reduce Your Carbon Footprint: Have a free energy audit of your home; buy a hybrid car or EV; and buy locally made products whenever possible, such as American Made Dresses by Karina such as this sleeveless, maxi length Megan by Karina Dresses. You’ll reduce the carbon footprint of the products you’re buying, which will not have to be shipped from China or other far away ports.
Visit us at Ocean Matters for details about joining our once-in-a-lifetime trip to Hawaii with Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul & Mary and National Geographic underwater photographer Brian Skerry, June 23rd-July 1st, 2015. Because the ocean matters.