There are many pressures on coral reefs around the world – population increase, coastal development, pollution, invasive species, unsustainable fishing, and climate change – to name but a few. But there are plenty of things you can do to help the reef. Here’s our top ten suggestions (in no particular order)
10 Things you can do to help the reef
1. Support conservation organisations and marine parks, through donations, volunteering, paying visitor fees (even when voluntary), etc.
2. Help educate others about marine life and climate change.
3. Follow our reef etiquette when diving and snorkelling. Choose tour operators who are eco-certified, encourage sustainable diving and snorkelling practice, and support marine conservation initiatives.
4. Follow the Three R’s – Reduce, Recycle, Reuse – whenever possible.
5. Plastics can choke and entangle marine life and contain harmful chemicals that concentrate pollutants. Help to reduce plastic waste:
- Buy food with less packaging. Buy in bulk. Buy vegetables loose instead of in plastic bags.
- Switch to reusable shopping bags e.g. “green bags” (widely available in Australia and beyond).
- Don’t release balloons outside (they many end up in the ocean and harm marine life).
- Avoid buying bottled water. Carry your own water bottle and refill it.
- Pack lunches in reusable containers instead of plastic bags.
6. Purchase locally-grown produce (e.g. from your local farmers market) and organic produce whenever possible (to reduce fuel emissions and pesticides from transport and production). Grow your own!
7. Make sure your seafood consumption is sustainable. Abide by local fishing regulations and closed seasons, and only buy fish from fisherman or dealers you trust to do the same. Use steel (rather than stainless steel hooks) which erode more quickly if a fish breaks the line. Download one of these online sustainable seafood resources:
- The Australian Marine Conservation Society’s Sustainable Seafood 3-Step Pocket Guide (Australia & New Zealand)
- The Marine Conservation Society’s Pocket Good Fish Guide (UK & Europe)
- The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Pocket Guide (US & Canada)
8. Save energy in your home by:
- replacing lightbulbs and electrical appliances with energy and water efficient models (this will also cut down on your bills)!
- installing a solar hot water system and insulating your hot water tank.
- only using the dishwasher and washing machine for a full load.
- drying clothes on the line instead of in the dryer.
- turning off the air-conditioner – open the windows, use a fan, spend more time outdoors.
- boiling only the amount of water you actually need in the kettle.
- turning off lights and appliances at the wall when not in use.
- and for the truly dedicated why not “Save Water, Shower With a Friend!”?!
9. Use less-toxic household & garden products (good for you as well as the environment!):
- replace household cleaners and detergents with chlorine and phosphate-free, biodegradable products
- use water-based, low biocide, VOC-free paints.
- turn food waste into compost, and leave grass-clippings on your lawn to fertilise your garden.
- use natural pest-deterrents rather than chemical pesticides in your garden.
10. Reduce fossil fuel emmissions:
- drive less – walk, cycle, skate, use public transport, combine errands, car-share.
- buy a fuel-efficient, electric or hybrid vehicle.
- offset your carbon emissions when flying. Encourage your employer to make it company policy for business trips.
- plant trees.
- become ”carbon neutral”.
Want to add your own suggestions? Feel free to add a comment below with your favourite tips for helping coral reefs and looking after our beautiful watery world!