June 8 is World Ocean Day, an opportunity for everyone to pause and appreciate the oceans that cover two-thirds of our planet — and maybe get out for a morning surf or swim.
It’s also the perfect time to take a moment to help the oceans that keep our global ecosystem functioning. World Ocean Day was first recognized by the United Nations General Assembly in 2008, and a non-profit operating under the same name is the steward of the annual awareness day. The latter works with global partners to support conservation efforts to protect the world’s oceans and underwater flora and fauna.
Fortunately, taking action to help the oceans doesn’t have to be a time-intensive activity. Here are five things you can do in five minutes or less to help the world’s oceans today (and every day).
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Add your name to the 30×30 initiative
The idea to protect 30 percent of Earth’s land and water by 2030 has been dubbed the 30×30 Initiative. Political and social leaders in countries from around the world, including the United States, are united in an effort to make this happen. Protecting 30 percent of the world’s oceans will help to ensure healthy sealife populations, maintain carbon sinks, and give the oceans the power they need to stabilize the global ecosystem. All you have to do to show support is sign this quick letter to your political representatives (pre-written and ready to send).
Matador spoke with New Mexico Senator Tom Udall about the 30×30 initiative and why it’s so important.
Use reef-safe sunscreen
One of the easiest ways to help protect the oceans is to experience and enjoy them for yourself. It’s impossible to understand why something is so important to protect if you haven’t seen how incredible it is firsthand. Just be sure to use reef-safe sunscreen. This means sunscreens that are free of oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, and octinoxate. Don’t worry – there’s no need to memorize that list. Matador has a complete rundown of reef-safe sunscreens ready to go.
Buy a new pair of kicks that kick back to the ocean
World Ocean Day is also a great time to re-up your sneakers for the summer. SeaVees, the eco-conscious shoe company that donates $1 per pair of shoes sold towards restoring ocean health, has stepped its impact up about five notches. The brand’s new SeaChange collection is designed to have no impact on the ocean. Your shoe is made from pineapple yarn, corn leather, or recycled cotton canvas, depending on the model. Laces are made of post-consumer recycled plastic, liners of recycled cotton, and outsoles with natural and recycled rubber.
The result is a comfortable, casual kick clean enough for a night out yet perfectly casual. And yes, your purchase still commits $1 to coastal restoration efforts. Buying a pair is a great way to show the fashion industry that eco-friendly products are in demand and worth the effort to consumers.
Try a kelp burger
Animal agriculture is responsible for 14.5 percent of global emissions, according to Climate Nexus. Simply put, raising animals for meat uses a lot of resources and produces a lot of emissions, so the best way to prevent those emissions is to eat less meat. It’s easier to do this now than at any time in recent memory, thanks to new meat-free protein options.
One such option is the kelp burger — yes, it’s made of seaweed, and no, it doesn’t taste “fishy.” Companies such as Akua are leading the charge to create sustainably farmed kelp that actually creates new carbon sinks in the ocean through the farming process. Matador spoke with Courtney Boyd-Myers, founder of Akua, about how her brand is farming kelp in the northeastern United States and creating carbon sinks along the way.
Check the label when eating seafood
Among the biggest threats to ocean health and biodiversity is overfishing. Healthy fish populations are essential to a balanced ocean ecosystem, with each species playing a role in the natural order. Large-scale fishing operations often have a devastating impact on populations of specific fish, disrupting local ecosystems and throwing the natural balance out of whack.
If you choose to eat seafood, look for Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) labels to ensure the meal you are about to eat was sourced responsibly. When possible, eat seafood near its source from restaurants and markets that support local purveyors. Bookmark this website from the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program to check on-the-go if the fish you’re ordering or buying is sustainably harvested.