by Maria Luci, editor at Maria’s Farm Country Kitchen and Rodale’s
We do a lot of applauding for “green” these days—especially at Rodale’s, where green is a way of life—but tomorrow, we invite you to spend some time honoring another color: blue.
June 8 is World Oceans Day—a day for celebrating our amazing oceans and all they provide our planet and us. World Oceans Day was begun in 1992, and it has been celebrated annually since, with the UN officially recognizing the holiday in 2008.
Here are five good reasons to celebrate our oceans.
- They help us breathe. That’s right—scientists believe that tiny marine plants produce up to 85 percent of the oxygen in our atmosphere.
- They provide us with food and medicine. Whether you enjoy fish, oysters, seaweed, or even just salt, you have to admit that life would be a lot less tasty without the ocean. Even more notably, many ingredients in new medications come from the oceans and are being used to treat cancer, infections, vision loss, heart disease, and more.
- They help regulate our climate. Our oceans are the MVPs of climate regulation, as they control global climate with currents and help keep weather patterns stable.
- They’re home to between a million and 10 million species. From majestic whales to “droopy” blobfish, the oceans are filled with a wide variety of truly amazing creatures.
- They’re absolutely beautiful—and so much fun! Sailing, swimming, snorkeling! There’s nothing like watching the bright red sun set in the ocean skyline.
Unfortunately, our oceans are becoming sicker every day.
Many things—too many to count—are threatening the health of our oceans, but we can start with a big one: pollution. According to the World Wildlife Fund, “Over 80 percent of marine pollution comes from land-based activities.” This pollution is made up of a lot of disposable products that make our lives easier, from plastic bags and plastic bottles to oil, clothing, fertilizers, sewage, and toxic chemicals. This mix of garbage and toxins severely damages marine life and the ocean environment, hurting everything from fish (which we then eat) to those marine plants that make the oxygen we breathe, while also contaminating our coastlines and coral reefs. That’s not to mention the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a floating island of trash hundreds of miles long.
On top of pollution, oil and gas drilling, unsustainable fishing, climate change, and habitat destruction all threaten the health of our oceans and their wildlife.
Still, there are ways to fight back. We can help make our oceans—and thus our planet—healthy. Let’s get started, on World Oceans Day and each day beyond.
Here are a few ways to help protect our big blue planet:
Take the Better Bag Challenge. World Oceans Day wants you to think about how pollution from plastic bags hurts sea turtles and ocean life everywhere. Take the better bag challenge, and commit to using reusable bags instead of disposable plastic bags for a whole year to help keep plastic out of our oceans.
Join a United By Blue Cleanup. For every United By Blue product sold, the company removes one pound of trash from our oceans and waterways through company-organized and -hosted cleanups. Help out by joining a cleanup crew and/or by purchasing the company’s earth-friendly products to help fund its efforts.
Collect plastic bottles and take them to be recycled. Plastic bottles can be turned into a multitude of new items, including patio furniture, benches, recycling bins, carpet, and even clothing (from recycled polyester). This Threads 4 Thought sports bra is made using 19 recycled bottles!
Commit to using reef-safe sunscreens. Several ingredients in conventional sunscreens may kill coral reefs and effect nearby marine life, so before you slather on the sunscreen and jump in the water, be sure to check that your chosen brand is coral-reef safe.
Plan or join a World Oceans Day event. Being part of a World Oceans Day activity or event—and telling others about it—helps spread the world and makes a difference for the ocean, its animals, our earth, and us.
Maria Luci is the manager and editor at Maria’s Farm Country Kitchen and content creator and editor at Rodale’s. She grew up in Virginia, but now lives in Philly with her husband, a black cat, and a good deal of houseplants.