Close your eyes and think of the sun shining high in the sky, warm sand between your toes, the sound of crashing waves and playful seagulls, the smell of salty air and the breeze through your hair. Yes, summer is here, and whether you’re strolling the beaches of the Hamptons or traveling to an exotic destination, there is no denying that the great escapes of summer usually involve the ocean.
But what if you were to go deeper and ask yourself what the ocean actually means to you? Nostalgia aside, do you truly grasp the importance of one of the least-understood habitats on this planet? I share this concern with you, not only as the writer of this piece, but as a compassionate human who cares about the future of our seas.
June 8 is World Oceans Day. It reminds us not only of the pleasures of the sea, but of the question of how we can best nurture this gift of nature that so unconditionally nurtures us. A way of looking at our current situation with nonradical, nonpartisan eyes is pretty clear: healthy oceans are critical for our survival. Water covers roughly 71 percent of the earth’s surface, with most of it found in five great oceans and 113 seas. They help regulate the climate, they filter the oxygen we breathe, they provide food, they are a source of compounds used to make medicines to keep us healthy, and they are a boundless source of inspiration (think of all the beach sunset snaps you’ve taken and posted on Instagram #blessed).
I ask you to now visualize making change, and what it would look and feel like to take simple steps to honor our oceans. Need some help? Reducing your use of plastics is probably one of the best—and simplest—things you can do. Buy BPA-free reusable water bottles (BPA leaching may disrupt hormones). When shopping, buy in bulk and use reusable cloth bags (my favorite are at ecobags.com). Recycle the plastic items you do use. Ask your dry cleaner to skip the plastic garment bag and provide them with your own. Initiate and take part in local beach cleanups, or take just five minutes out of your tanning session to collect any trash you find around you.
Be the change you wish to see, for our oceans, for our future. As Mother Teresa once said, “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”