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5 Ways to Make Your Beach Day Eco-Friendly

In this article, we’ll discuss why going to the beach is bad for the environment, why beaches are important to our ecosystems and the planet, and 5 eco-friendly ways to make your next beach day a little bit more sustainable than the last.
Green News
2023-08-24T00:00:00.000Z
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One of the hallmark ways every American knows it is summer is with a beach day trip on Memorial day weekend, with road trips to the beach being one of the most popular family activities in the U.S. every summer – known for the positive atmospheres and family friendly activities.

The beach usually has something for everyone: swimming, tanning, playing a game of frisbee or volleyball, listening to music, building a sand castle, or a boardwalk to discover seasonal snacks (or for pigging out on cotton candy and ice cream bars) or classic Coney-Island like carnival games.

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While the beach makes for a great day trip and escape from normal suburban or city life, many forget that our beach day isn’t always the best for the environment.

In this article, we’ll discuss why going to the beach is bad for the environment, why beaches are important to our ecosystems and the planet, and 5 eco-friendly ways to make your next beach day a little bit more sustainable than the last.

What is a beach day?

A beach day refers to when people travel from their homes to the closest or most preferred beach for the day, much like a “day trip” where someone travels but doesn’t plan to spend the night.

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Some common activities on a beach day include:

  • Tanning
  • Swimming
  • Volleyball
  • Frisbee
  • Surfing
  • Jet skiing 
  • Snorkeling
  • Building sand castles
  • Taking strolls alongside the coast or boardwalk

👉 Many people enjoy a beach day for the change of scenery, as beaches often offer coastal views and a calm atmosphere being nearby the ocean, sea, or even a lake.

Other reasons why families and friends often opt for a beach day is to spend more time outside, bond with family and friends, and just have a chill day with a picnic or relaxing on the sand. 

People usually bring the following for a beach day:

  • Beach chairs
  • Beach umbrellas 
  • Sunscreen
  • Snacks
  • Drinks
  • Magazines 
  • Speakers for music

Some beaches have a nearby “beach town” – such as the little villages in Cinque Terre in Italy or in the South of France. This allows people to enjoy the beach and also a small town with shopping and restaurants for more entertainment.

cinque terre in italy or italian riviera

Ultimately, many people opt for a beach day as it offers a break from everyday life.

How can going to the beach be bad for the environment?

It may not seem like having a beach day will cause any harm to the planet, but when you break down all of the items people often bring to the beach and things they buy as a result of going to the beach – it adds up.

However, the first thing many people can recognize is bad for the environment and the beach is the amount of trash that is often left behind on the beach. In fact, the Ocean Conservatory revealed that over the last 30 years, over 300 million pounds of trash has been collected from their organized beach clean-ups.

Think about all of the opportunities for trash to be left behind on the beach: empty plastic water bottles, snack wrappers, and sunscreen bottles. Seeing as beaches are often large in surface area and also crowded with people – the problem is that there often aren’t enough trash cans for the size of the beaches. When people see a trash can overflowing with waste, instead of trying to fit it into the bin – they’ll just throw it onto the floor. 

people picking up beach trash

People often go on a shopping spree at the start of summer to prepare for their upcoming beach days that lay ahead – purchasing new beach bags and swimsuits, some of which may not be used with eco-friendly materials.

There are other things about going to the beach that are bad for the environment that may not cross everyone’s mind. 

people on road trip at the beach

Sunscreen is another major culprit of creating a high carbon footprint during your beach day. This is because sunscreen bottles are often made with crude oil: making them next to impossible to dispose of the empty bottles. 

Many people opt for sunscreen spray, as it seems more efficient – but actually more of it is deposited into the atmosphere than onto your skin than you think. Spray sunscreens aren’t only toxic to humans if too much is inhaled, but the hazardous chemicals in sunscreen spray bottles can be emitted into the air and contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer. 

As a result, up to 14,000 tonnes of sunscreen ends up in coral reefs each year – where high amounts of oxybenzone can damage coral reefs, such as the infamous Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

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The environmental impact of the beach doesn’t stop when families walk back through the door of their homes. All of the towels that need to be washed will need to be washed thoroughly to remove the sand and grime of the beach – which doesn’t help to conserve water. 

Even with all of this information in mind, people often forget that beaches aren’t just for entertainment – but remain as a pivotal part of our ecosystems and environment.

Why are beaches important to our ecosystems and the environment?

There are many things that you should keep in mind during your next beach day to remember how your actions at the beach can impact the planet and society. 

First off, beaches provide coastal protection – meaning the shore lines can help to protect coastal communities and their infrastructure from further harm during natural disasters and other predicaments such as rising sea levels. 

Currently, beaches that are suffering from rising sea levels include Brooklyn’s beloved Coney Island – which is perhaps New York City’s most infamous beach attracting more than 5 million people each year.

view of coney island brooklyn

Unbeknownst to most, beaches help to sustain various plant and animal species – especially marine animals that contribute to biodiversity and overall ecological balance. This is pivotal to maintain as climate change continues to spur out of control. 

Lastly, beaches offer indispensable economic benefits besides the money accumulated from tourism – such as fishing opportunities that help to stimulate the economy. The problem with many beaches is that some areas are being built up to create more attractive “beach towns” to attract tourists – but this could compromise the fisheries in nearby lakes and oceans. This is a similar predicament to what is happening with the Tongass National Forest.

Understanding why beaches are imperative to our economy, society, and planet may motivate you to make your next day more eco-friendly than the last.

What are 5 ways you can have an eco-friendly beach day?

There are definitely more than 5 things you can do to make sure your next beach day is more environmentally friendly than the last: but for now, here are our top five tips to make your beach day more eco-friendly.

Bring Reusable Containers for Beach Snacks

In 2021, almost 26 billion pieces of trash were found alongside coasts across the United States. Much of this trash comes from people leaving behind plastic from their beach day snacks. 

Bringing a zero-waste beach day lunch or snack is one of the best ways you can make your beach day more sustainable. 

Try to avoid using plastic bags, tupperwares, and utensils when at the beach. Bringing your own utensils, reusable napkins, containers from home can help prevent beach littering.

people sharing snack on the beach

Also, let’s face it – even if you bring single use plastic utensils and containers with the intent of recycling them afterwards, the wind often blows these light-weight items away. Most people won’t be motivated to chase after their trash, and leave it to perish on the beach.

If you bring your own containers, you’ll lessen the chances of them being blown away by the wind and also be more motivated to find your container if it does get lost on the beach.

Thrift What You Can

Have you ever realized that much of what you take with you to the beach can be found in thrift stores?

Before even heading to the thrift store, try to go through your old stuff and use what you have before buying something new. For instance – why buy a new beach cover up when you can use a ratty old T-shirt you were planning to throw away instead? 

If you must shop for new stuff for the beach, shop smart – such as by opting to purchase a microfiber for the beach instead of a traditional towel. It’s less bulky, easier to transport, and the sand can be washed off more easily and reduce the need to wash it after every beach day – ultimately helping to save water.

Let Marine Life Enjoy Their Beach Day, Too!

Just because every day is a beach day for the local turtles and fish, doesn’t mean they don’t want to relax too.

There’s no need to feed wildlife at the beach: our food isn’t good for them. Also, don’t exasperate their energy – turtles don’t want to be chased by kids at the beach. Let them save their energy for helping ecosystems at the beach thrive.

birds flying at the beach

Also, try not to buy souvenirs made of marine life body parts: like teeth necklaces or shells. In fact, it’s best to leave shells on the beach where you found them – as they are pivotal to many ecosystems on the beach by providing hermit crabs with homes and help to protect fish in the ocean, and even prevent shoreline erosion.

Switch Up Your Sunscreen

Try to use less (slathering more sunscreen on than necessary is just wasteful and won’t provide more protection from the sun), and opt to use recyclable sunscreen bottles whenever possible. Examples include aerosol cans that are made of steel or aluminum – both of which can be recycled.

However, bottled sunscreen is still the best option – as aerosol cans emit chemicals into the air that pollute the atmosphere – Finding a recyclable, bottled sunscreen is going to be the most sustainable option for your next beach day.

Make Sure No Trash is Left Behind

Just as it is important to be mindful of what you bring with you to the beach, it’s even more important to keep a close eye while you’re packing up after your beach day.

Make sure when packing up from your beach day to scan the area you sprawled yourself out, and look for any nearby trash that may have drifted away.

Leaving the beach as you found it is ultimately one of the best ways to make sure you have an eco-friendly beach day.

coastline view with waves crashing beach

Overall, after a painful winter – many of us look forward to a well-deserved beach day: but it’s important to remember that the small things you do at the beach could make a big difference and help to preserve one of nature’s most beloved places.

What about Greenly? 

If reading this article about 5 ways to make your beach day more eco-friendly has made you interested in reducing your carbon emissions to further fight against climate change – Greenly can help you!

Figuring out how to be more sustainable in your everyday life is challenging, but reducing the carbon footprint in your professional endeavors is often even more complicated – click here to schedule a demo to see how Greenly can help you break down the carbon emissions within your own company. 

Greenly can help you make an environmental change for the better, starting with a carbon footprint assessment to know how much carbon emissions your company produces.

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