You could probably fry an egg on the hood of your car with the incendiary temperatures we’re experiencing as of late. And since we don’t want to become stand-ins for fried eggs, we hit the beach. It’s a good thing the Philippines doesn’t have a shortage of these—from north to south, crystal-clear waters and gorgeous shorelines abound. While dipping in blue is always great, we should always think green. A lot of people take these summer havens for granted. Sometimes, we enjoy too much and forget that we should also be responsible in keeping these clean. After all, we can’t expect other people to tidy up after us during our beach excursions.
Most of us consider ourselves as beach bums, but let’s not bum around when it comes to keeping our shores and waters clean—be environmentally-responsible beachgoers. Here are some ways to do that.
1. Never leave any kind of trash behind. This is a cardinal rule that shouldn’t only apply to beaches. We should be programmed to never leave trash anywhere. But this is especially important in beaches since doing so may result in garbage ending up in the sea, which isn’t really the easiest place to clean up. Also, we could use fewer depressing stories of marine creatures such as tortoises being found dead with plastic bags inside their bellies. According to Animals Australia, Australia's foremost animal protection organization, more than 100,000 animals die every year after ingesting plastic or becoming entangled in them. The same can be said about cigarette butts, which is among the most common types of garbage that litter our shores. If you don’t mind cigarettes being detrimental to your health, at least care enough not to allow seals and the like to choke on your butts.
2. Pets could cause harm, too. Well, not the pets themselves, but their poop. Pet poop could mean bad news for marine life since it can turn into bacterial pollutants. If you’re taking your beloved dog to the beach, better make sure to clean up after it.
3. Don’t pocket shells. Shells are perhaps the favorite souvenirs of beachgoers, but the act of collecting and taking these home should be stopped. According to the Smithsonian Magazine, doing so can have unintended environmental consequences. You see, shells are the homes of sea creatures such as hermit crabs. They also aid in stabilizing beaches and various fauna in such environments. Even after they decompose, these provide nutrients for sand creatures to build their own shells. So just leave the shells be. If you still want a souvenir, just bottle sand or something.
4. Select the right sunscreen. You probably shouldn’t leave home and go to the beach without sunscreen, but you should still pick the kind of sunscreen you use. Such products usually include oxybenzone, a chemical that can cause DNA damage—or death—to a coral and aggravate coral bleaching. Corals are already threatened in so many other ways, let’s not add to it further by being selective of our choice of sunscreen. An alternative to sunscreen? Rash guards. They’re trendy and cool to boot.
5. Clean up after others. Sadly, most people aren’t responsible beachgoers. That’s our reality; one that would hopefully change in the future. Pick up others’ trash when you can. Don’t wait for it to be swept towards the sea and potentially kill another sea creature. This is especially important in beaches found in isolated islands—try to take the trash you see with you on the trip back to the main island. You’d be doing these beaches and the surrounding aquatic life a huge favor.
A lot of us have probably heard our friends or family express a sentiment along these lines: “This beach used to be so beautiful.” Let’s not wait until the same could be said about our Boracays or Palawans. Do your part in preserving our little slices of paradise.
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Photographs from commons.wikimedia.org