Real world practices for everyday people
When it comes to protecting the environment, everyone wants to be politically correct and do the right thing. However, for most people, protecting the environment requires a change in mind-set that doesn’t always blend with their day-to-day life. We hear a lot about “your carbon footprint,” but for most normal people, that doesn’t always translate to real world action items. However, there are many things you, an Average Joe/Josephine can do, easily, to change the way you impact the environment and most likely protect your favorite dive site.
Your Mission: Small changes over a reasonable period of time
Take a look at how much plastic you use! Plastic cups, water bottles, coffee cups, to-go containers, shopping bags, and more. Take the next five weeks and implement a program that reduces your plastic. Week 1; replace all your plastic disposable cups with reusable cups or biodegradable cups. Week 2; go out and buy a reusable “Starbucks Look-A-Like” Coffee Cup and bring that into the coffee shop to be refilled. Week 3; go to the local grocery store and buy 20 reusable shopping bags (keep them in your trunk and use them). Week 4; set up recycling bins in your kitchen, bathrooms, garage, and other key rooms. Week 5; every time you buy something that is plastic, look for the recycled label.
Plastic bags, bottles, and more are littering thousands of square miles in the world’s oceans. It drastically impacts marine life and is killing important species. Your five week program will help save the ocean and your favorite dive site. Plus, you will feel great in the process.
Practice Safe Diving – Secure All Falling Equipment
As a SAFE diver, you are making a commitment to minimalizing your impact when you dive. That means you are taking only pictures and leaving only bubbles. As a SAFE diver, you are conscious that EVERY diver impacts a dive site when they visit. How you avoid damage depends on how you dive. Master your buoyancy through training and pool practice. Properly stow your gear on your person while diving. Be conscious of your surroundings and the environment.
Following are a couple of action items: Week 1; invest 15 minutes and set up your equipment at home or at your local dive shop. Step back from your equipment and look at all the “dangling lines and equipment.” Talk to your local dive shop about different clips, retractors, and tie downs that can help you streamline your equipment. Week 2; reserve your space in your favorite instructor’s Buoyancy Class and take it with environmental consciousness as a goal and objective. Week 3; grab your smart phone and schedule some practice time in the local pool or lake. The focus should be on keeping your fins off the bottom and playing the “no touch game.” See how long you can dive and not touch the bottom.
Be Aware When Ordering Seafood
Awareness programs like Banning Shark Finning have gone viral in today’s world of social connectivity. It’s still a worldwide concern, however very few people would walk into a restaurant and order a bowl of shark fin soup. However, sharks are not the only species under attack. Many of the world’s game fish are under attack by the appetite of the world. Making smart consumer purchases should be every diver’s responsibility. Two things you can do is (1) stay away from seafood that is on the endangered list and (2) whenever possible, you should order seafood that was bred in a fish farm. Consumption of farm bred fish is environmentally friendly.
Ready for your Seafood Aware action items? Week 1; download the Seafood Watch App or PDF Card from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Web site. Schedule a reminder on your personal calendar to update your Seafood Watch card every quarter and check for updates. Week 2; send out a personal email or share a link on your Facebook Page to your friends and family and ask them to make conscious seafood choices. Share the Seafood Watch card with them. Week 3; spend 3 hours and research local seafood restaurants (maybe make a few phone calls or send a few emails) and ask them if they have protocols in place to help protect endangered species on their menu. When you find a good restaurant, tell everyone about it and vote with your wallet. Week 4; establish a vegetarian night once per week. A great healthy and hearty way to save your favorite dive site.
Use environmentally friendly detergents
Detergents and soaps are filled with phosphates, dyes, bleach, and more. Some of these soaps and detergents are harmful to local waterways, rivers, and ultimately the ocean. Some effects of injecting these harsh chemicals into the waterways include algal blooms which reduce visibility and cover the reefs and other marine life. The real problem is there are no government regulations for disclosing contents of detergents and soaps and you will find many of the labels are misleading and contain terms that have little to no relevance. However, “going green” is not as hard as you think and can lead to some healthy options that extend far beyond just protecting your favorite dive site.
Week 1; find an “eco-friendly” washing detergent. Do some research on the Internet and check out your local market. Find one, at the store you usually shop at, that works for you. If you have to make a special trip for liquid detergent, you won’t practice this regularly. Week 2; change out your dish soaps and dishwasher detergents to a “green” alternative. Week 3; post your research to Facebook or your blog and talk about your experience in making the switch.
Be your own activist
One World – One Diver – One Change a Week – One Big Impact. If every diver had this philosophy, our oceans would be healthier! It’s your job to educate yourself on the environment concerns facing the oceans of the world. It’s your passion that will drive you to be an activist. You don’t need to march on Washington DC or give CPR to a whale to have a big effect. Make some small changes and then find two friends to do the same. In the end, you will be able to enjoy your dive sites for as long as you are diving.
Week 1; research various ocean driven and dive centric causes. Identify opportunities to help those foundations. Week 2; take a Project Aware course at a local dive shop. Help rally divers to join you in that class and participate with the dive shop in creating a greater concern for the underwater environment. Ask the dive shop to participate in donating a percentage of the revenues from that course to a greater cause. Week 3; host a charity night at a local restaurant/bar or at your house. Put a cover charge on the event and donate the proceeds to your ocean driven charity. Hold a raffle where people have to purchase the tickets and the proceeds benefit to the elected charity for the evening. Maybe your local dive shop will help with the raffle. Week 4; don’t quit after 3 weeks. Put a plan together to help the Marine Environment on a regular basis. One World – One Diver!