We at Wilderness Travel are deeply committed to providing unforgettable experiences that also help protect and preserve our wonderful planet. In honor of World Oceans Day (June 8), two of our staff members, Sydney Dillon and Jenny Gowan, share five ocean-friendly practices. Sydney and Jenny both hold an M.S. in marine biology and are very passionate about ocean conservation.
1. Use reef-safe sunscreen
Even if you are not swimming in the ocean, harmful chemicals from sunscreen can wash off of your skin in the shower and into our waterways, where they eventually make their way into the ocean and wreak havoc on marine life.
Key West, Hawaii, and Palau have already passed legislation banning the sale of sunscreen products containing oxybenzone and octinoxate. While no sunscreen is 100% reef safe, do your best to avoid these chemical sunscreens, and instead opt for non-nano zinc oxide based lotions.
2. Cut down on single-use plastics
About 90% of plastic has never been recycled, according to a U.N. report released in 2018. Many of our recycling facilities are so overwhelmed with material that they cannot actually recycle it, and it ends up in landfills. In California alone, about $25 million is spent each year to dispose of plastic waste in landfills. Some of it also makes its way to our rivers, and eventually to the oceans, where it breaks down into tiny micro-fragments. Microplastics, those less than five millimeters in length, are the most common form of “marine debris” found in the world’s oceans and lakes.
According to the U.N., at least 51 trillion microplastic particles are found in the ocean—500 times more than stars in our galaxy! These can be ingested by fishes and mammals, and even make their way back to us when we consume seafood.
3. Join a WT trip to support sustainable tourism in the marine environment
Experiencing the beauty of the world’s oceans first-hand is the best way to develop a greater appreciation for this varied ecosystem and share that knowledge with others. Our trips include adventures in the Galápagos, Raja Ampat, Vanuatu, Palau, Tonga, Alaska, and Baja.
4. Use products with natural and biodegradable ingredients
Dr. Bronner’s comes in liquid and bar form, is environmentally friendly, and can be used as body soap, shampoo, and hand soap. We also like Wilderness Wash, Campsuds, and Acure Organics Biodegradable wipes. In general, avoid products with phosphate, surfactants, triclosan, and antibacterial ingredients. Other environmentally friendly brands include Honest Company, Badger, Raw Elements, and Alba Botanica, and are found in most sporting goods stores and drugstores.
5. Get involved
Participate in waterway and coastal cleanups, help plant baby corals, volunteer, and donate to efforts protecting the oceans. Since all rivers and streams end up in the ocean, even inland and mountain dwellers make a difference. If you don’t know where to start, visit WorldOceansDay.org to find or host an event near you on June 8th.
—Text by WT staff, Sydney Dillon and Jenny Gowan.