Every decision we make has an environmental impact
This means everyone can do something (or more than one something) to make our planet a bluer, healthier place to call home.
Our Ocean plays a critical role in regulating the climate and absorbing carbon emissions – most notably, through blue carbon ecosystems. So, taking Ocean action is in the best interest of all life on Earth.
Ocean action is climate action.
We asked the team at Ocean Generation – from those in our science team; to our founder, Jo Ruxton MBE; to those who manage our youth engagement programmes – to share the ways they take Ocean and climate action each day.
10 daily actions our team of Ocean lovers takes to protect the Ocean:
1) Omit unnecessary car travel
2) Don’t pour cooking oil down the drain
3) The best way to take Ocean action? Educate your inner circle about how important our Ocean is.
Wondering where to start? Incredible Ocean facts for you:
9) Make these easy plastic swaps – and then swear off unnecessary plastic items forever.
At Ocean Generation, we promote an inclusive approach to sustainability. We recognise that zero-waste, plastic-free, vegan, and zero-carbon lifestyles don’t work for everyone – and that’s okay. The world needs all of us to do what we can, within our means.
But in saying that, it’s also important to recognise that too many of us still use single-use plastics too easily. When did you last purchase a plastic bottle, a take-out coffee mug or use a single-use plastic straw?
Most single-use plastic items are unnecessary. There are (excuse the pun) an Ocean of eco-alternatives available.
It’s time to break up with unnecessary plastic. Identify what unnecessary single-use plastic you use. ✅ Make the switch to eco-alternatives. ✅ Commit to never going back. ✅
10) Do your best to take environmental action daily, and accept that ‘your best‘ looks different for everyone.
15 Climate actions you can take to restore the Ocean’s health
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“What can I do about climate change?”
We’re regularly asked for practical climate actions. Thankfully, there’s a lot we can do to look after our blue planet.
Every decision we make – from what we eat to how we move to the clothes we wear – has an environmental impact. But when faced with fear-mongering headlines and science-backed alarm bells that we’re reaching a climate tipping point, individual actions don’t feel like enough.
Do individual climate actions actually make a difference?
Yes. Think about it: Swapping out your plastic straw for a metal one may not feel like much, but if everyone in Europe did the same, 701 tonnes of plastic could be prevented from entering the environment every year.
Collectively, individual actions are powerful propellers of positive change.
Why should the Ocean have a seat at climate conversations?
The Ocean is a powerful climate change mitigator.
Here’s 3 ways our Ocean mitigates the impacts of climate change:
The Ocean absorbs 90% of excess heat from our climate system, making it an impressive heat sink. In fact, the Ocean is the largest heat sink on Earth.
30% of human-made carbon emissions are absorbed by our Ocean.
The Ocean plays a major role in climate adaption. (Said differently: the Ocean supports our planet’s adjustment to the effects of climate change, for example, through blue carbon ecosystems).
Your carbon footprint is the measure of greenhouse gases produced by your daily activities.
This includes things like driving a car, using electricity, the emissions linked to what you wear, and even eating food.
When we understand our carbon footprint, we can shift our behaviours for the better. Here’s an online carbon footprint calculator (we can’t endorse any resource as ‘the most accurate measure of your CO2 footprint’ but this will give you a rough idea of your environmental impact).
It’s important to remember that carbon emission world averages distort the unequal emissions in developed and developing countries. So, it’s helpful to compare your carbon footprint to your national average to assess where you stand.
4) The food on your plate makes an environmental impact
One third of carbon emissions comes from food production.
General tips: Reduce your consumption of high-emission foods like meat and dairy in favour of seasonal fruits and vegetables and snacks that have negative emissions.
5) Put your money where your heart is: Divest from fossil fuels
Are your monetary investments benefiting the planet? Divesting from fossil fuels means taking your money out of the hands of the fossil fuel industry, which contributes significantly to carbon emissions and climate change.
You can start by checking your bank and investment accounts and moving your money to institutions that don’t invest in fossil fuels. Even small divestments make a difference.
6) Avoid products with microbeads
Microbeads are small plastic beads often found in beauty and personal care products. These tiny pieces of plastic easily slip down our drains, through water treatment plants and into the Ocean.
Most of us purchase products – facial scrubs, toothpaste, nail polish, and abrasive household cleaning products – without realising they contain microbeads.
Quick solution to the microbead problem: Check ingredient lists and front labels. Microbeads and polyethylene are often listed on packaging, making them easy to avoid.
7) Think before you toss your clothes into the laundry
Every time we do an average laundry load of 6kg, 700,000 fibres can be released into our waterways. Before you put something in the washing basket, consider if it can first be worn again.
Take this a step further by investing in a bag built to capture micro-fibres and choosing sustainable clothing materials when it’s time to purchasing something.
8) Conserve water
Only 0.5% of water on Earth is useable and available as freshwater. So, we’re not joking when we say water is liquid gold.
It’s a key prerequisite for human development and, already, a quarter of all cities are water stressed. Little actions add up: Cringe when you see a character in a movie running water for ages; make sure you turn your tap off while brushing your teeth; install a waster-wise shower-head; fix those leaks.
You may feel that your climate action a drop in the Ocean – but the Ocean would be less without that drop.
Every drop counts.
9) Understand the impact of fast fashion on the environment
Fast fashion is responsible for 8 – 10% of global carbon emissions (which is more than all international flights and maritime shipping – combined).
Outfit repeating, sustainable fabrics, shopping second-hand and only purchasing items you know you’ll re-wear over and over again are in fashion this season. Scroll: How to take the fast out of fast fashion.
10) What’s the impact of how you travel?
No one’s surprised to learn: Flying is one of the most carbon-intensive modes of transportation. But did you know that flying at night is actually worse for the planet than flying during the day? Now you do.
Walking and cycling are both climate-friendly and positively impact our health (who doesn’t love a hot girl walk?).
Suggestions when it comes to catching flights:
Where alternatives exist, don’t fly.
When you need to fly, choose direct flights to maximise fuel efficiency and minimise emissions associated with take-offs.
11) Plant a mangrove tree – with the click of a button – to take Ocean action
By planting a mangrove tree, you’re making a direct impact on the environment. Plant (follow).
12) Rethink your relationship with plastic
You knew it was coming. It wouldn’t be a climate change actions list without mention of plastic.
Plastic is everywhere – from the clothing you’re wearing to the spot you’re sitting right now and even in the food we eat. There’s no getting rid of a material designed to last forever, but reducing our consumption of single-use plastics is essential for a healthy Ocean and planet.
Start by rethinking your relationship with plastic. Instead of leaning on recycling, start reusing, reducing, totally refusing plastic options where you can.
13) Start saying ‘Ocean’ not oceans
At school, we’re all taught about the Ocean having 5 regions, but our Ocean isn’t separated by borders. It’s one, connected system.
What happens in one part of the Ocean impacts Ocean health as a whole.
If we all understood this, we’d be more mindful of what we dump in the Ocean, what we take out of it, and how we use it daily. As you go about your life, start saying Ocean – big O, no s. Not only does it highlight the interconnectedness of the Ocean, but also how our daily actions impact it.
14) Be a voice for our Ocean
The Ocean is quite literally keeping us alive. It’s our planet’s life support system, but most people don’t realise that.
By keeping yourself informed about the importance of the Ocean, the human-made threats it faces, and the various actions we can take to protect it – and then sharing that Ocean intelligence, you can propel a wave of positive change for our planet.
Sign up to our newsletter for monthly Ocean education. Submit a Wavemaker Story to let your voice for the Ocean be amplified on our channels. Share educational posts you come across. Be an Ocean advocate – not just on World Ocean Day but every day.
15) Accept that you can’t do everything. Start where you are.
It’s important to acknowledge that no one can do it all when it comes to tackling climate change and restoring the Ocean’s health.
Striving to be a perfect environmentalist often leads to eco-anxiety and feelings of defeat about the amount of work to be done. The reality is: Imperfection is still helpful, and it’s a lot more inclusive than unrealistic demands for perfection.
Our blue planet doesn’t need a handful of perfect environmentalists. Earth needs millions of imperfect people doing what they can to make a difference, and always trying to do better.
Embrace imperfect environmentalism with us by starting where you are. Commit to one – or several – of these items right now. Collectively, we can make waves.
To protect Earth’s most precious ecosystem – our Ocean – we must first understand its importance. Our Wavemaker Programme empowers young people between 16 – 25 to use their voice and talents to make a positive impact on our blue planet. This piece was written by one of our Wavemakers. Submit your own story.
Ocean threats don’t just impact the environment and non-human creatures, but our own health and wellbeing too. One key way the environment’s degradation can impact us is through eco-anxiety.
Shrinking ice caps, disappearing biodiversity, fiercer bushfires, heat waves , and flash floods. The effects of climate change are difficult to ignore.
These disasters not only cause immense physical destruction – a growing body of evidence shows they’re also taking a toll on our mental health.
What is eco-anxiety anyway?
Eco-anxiety is extreme worry about current and future harm to the environment caused by human activity and climate change.
Eco-anxiety can be caused by the stressful and frightening experience of “watching the slow and seemingly irrevocable impacts of climate change unfold, and worrying about the future for oneself, children and later generations“, according to a 2018 report.
How do I know if I have eco-anxiety?
Eco-anxiety can feel like feelings of loss, helplessness, frustration, and guilt, as the sufferers feel they are unable to stop climate change.
Feeling this anxiety is an emotionally mature state to be in, which shows that you are aware of the crisis that we are all facing.
So, whilst it can be unpleasant, it can show a willingness to face painful truths and facts, and that should be acknowledged and almost (though not quite as simple as this) be celebrated. But how?
When facing eco-anxiety, remember you’re not alone.
First of all, try to recognise your feelings as completely reasonable and necessary, rather than push them away.
Taking time to acknowledge my feelings helps me maintain a healthy relationship with them, and often motivates my work and activism.
Finding your place in a community can also be a huge help with feelings of despair and anxiety. There are a lot of support and activist groups you can join (read on to the tips section to see some example groups).
Shared belonging and concern can be a great support and working towards tangible solutions can give a much greater sense of control in overwhelming circumstances.
Know when to seek professional help:
If your eco-anxiety is so severe that it causes you to be unable to function, or feels unbearable, you could consider seeking professional help. Try to bring empathetic understanding and connection to, ideally, find meaning in this experience.
It is often the loss of meaning that causes people the most suffering.
Understanding that these feelings have meaning can be comforting. The ideal is to find balance between feeling these emotions, and then using them in different ways to create meaningful change, better relationships with your family and friends, maybe even more meaningful work and activism of some kind.
At least know that you are not alone with your fears.
Eco-Agency: Steps to tackle eco-anxiety
Since 2017, and especially since autumn 2018, there has been increasing coverage about eco-anxiety and climate anxiety in various media.
One focal point in this discussion has been the young climate activist Greta Thunberg, who has openly spoken of her climate change anxiety.
Climate anxiety became perhaps the most discussed form of eco-anxiety, and it was often discussed in relation to the children, youth, and young adults who participated in climate action.
More studies on the mental health impacts of climate change have been published. In 2020, books for the general public began to appear, providing suggestions for self-help and social action in order to alleviate eco-anxiety and especially climate anxiety.
Book recommendations to learn more about eco-anxiety and how to deal with it:
“My individual actions are not actually capable of solving climate change,” she said.
While changing how you live and travel may help you by letting you live more closely in accordance with your values, you shouldn’t feel ashamed for not being fully able to comply with these.
“The systems in which we are all enmeshed essentially force us to harm the planet, and yet we put all that shame on our own shoulders,” said Marris. “The shame is not helping anybody.”
3. Focus your efforts on changing systems, not yourself
Marris argues that we can’t get where we want to be through individual action, and that accepting this has therapeutic benefits.
“I don’t think a complete narcissistic focus on the self is healthy,” she points out. Instead, Marris suggests you can have a much more meaningful impact by working with others to lobby governments.
The Grantham Institute advises letting your MP, local councillors and mayor know that you think action on climate change is important and writing to your bank or pension provider to ask if you can opt out of funds that invest in fossil fuels.
4. Find like-minded people
Finding a community of like-minded individuals can help you express and share your feelings of eco-anxiety. You can’t solve climate change on your own. Joining a group of some kind will enable you to make friends.
I’m not an expert on mental health but I feel like making friends is helpful – giving you a space to share your thoughts and feelings.
The importance of talking about your experiences – the challenges as well as the positives – and bringing other people along with you.
Talking about the practical things you can do in their day-to-day lives can give you some sense of control back and empowers you to take ownership of your choices and agency.
I’d be lying if I said that there wasn’t a lot of time when you think, ‘Why do we bother?’ But, when you sit down, chat to other activists or advocates and have a bit of a think about it, you realise that there’s a huge amount that we can still do.
Yes, our planet and Ocean are in trouble. But it’s in our power to protect what’s left and make a meaningful difference. And that’s why we do this. That’s why we carry on.
The Ocean is a vital life-support system to all life on Earth
Everything that we rely on in our day to day lives – from our water, food, and every second breath – leads back to the Ocean.
Somewhere along the way, we’ve become disconnected from our blue planet.
Why is our Ocean so important?
If we were in space and looked down at Earth, we would mostly see the colour blue.
Our Ocean covers over 70% of the planet, which is why we call it our Blue Planet. It produces over 50% of the oxygen we breathe; meaning that every second breathe we take comes from the Ocean.
Our Ocean helps regulate the temperature on land and is responsible for global weather patterns like storms and heatwaves (which we’ve been seeing more of in the recent years).
It absorbs the sun’s heat, transferring it to the atmosphere and distributing it around the world – warming in the winter and cooling in the summer. Our Ocean is a key driver of how our world functions and yet it’s usually low down on governments agendas.
How many of these Ocean facts do you know?
Containing roughly 97% of the world’s water, our Ocean supports all life on Earth.
It is home to thousands of plants and organisms. And yet, scientists estimate that 91% of species are still to be discovered. Should we stop looking for aliens on Mars and start looking for our own E.T in the Ocean?
From the oldest species in the entire world to the largest living animal in the world – the blue whale – the Ocean’s biodiversity is astonishing.
Plastic Rivers Report: What plastic ends up in the Ocean?
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What is the Plastic Rivers Report?
Our Plastic Rivers Report offers practical, evidence-based steps to tackle the plastic pollution crisis.
This report aims to improve our understanding of which plastic pollution items end up in rivers and flow into the Ocean most.
It identifies the 10 most prevalent macroplastic items found in European freshwater environments, key actions you can take to tackle plastic pollution, and how businesses and policy makers can support sustainable choices.