When it comes to protecting our seas, we all have the power to make small steps to drive great change. Afterall, even the littlest ripples can become great waves. From helping to look after fragile habitats to supporting vulnerable ecosystems to ensuring the future of our favourite salt-kissed playgrounds, there are all sorts of incentives to cleaning up our coastlines – each led by everyday change.
If you’d like to do your bit for a brighter blue planet and leave only the lightest footprints in the sand, we’ve put together some top tips for a sustainable beach day. From ditching single-use plastics to wearing reef-friendly sunscreen, each one is easy and manageable for the best beach days come rain or shine.
Swap Disposables for Reusables
One of the biggest environmental problems facing not just our beaches but our whole planet is the onslaught of single-use, disposable products. Be it non degradable cameras, wet wipes, single-use cups and bottles, disposable BBQS or more, there are all kinds of single-use waste products needlessly clogging up our landscapes and our landfills. For a sustainable beach day, take reusable alternatives like flannels, flasks and portable BBQS to the beach and invest in quality purchases you can enjoy time and time again.
Use Reef-Safe Suncream
Known as the rainforest of our seas, coral reefs play a central role in the health of our oceans and our economies – providing vital habitat for a huge range of marine species and supporting sustainable local fishing and tourism industries. Sadly, many off-the-shelf sunscreens contain toxic chemicals that are responsible for killing coral reefs and harming marine wildlife, with devastating consequences for our already fragile marine ecosystems. To combat this, you can use reef-safe suncream which is far healthier and safer for our bodies and for our environment. Read more here.
Take Rubbish Home with You
One of the best ways to look after your beach is by rounding up all of your litter (and any other rogue bits you might find!) and taking it home with you. Not only improving beach aesthetics, but this also prevents wildlife from getting tangled up and hurt and stops rubbish from floating out to sea too. It also ensures that your fellow beach goers don’t get hurt either, as half-buried debris can often cause injuries – especially glass and metal items. Once home, you can divide your litter into rubbish and recycling safely away from sandy shores. For extra points, you can also take part in local beach cleans.
Stay Local (If You Can)
One of our top tips for a sustainable beach day is staying local or travelling to your nearest beach to reduce your carbon footprint. In Cornwall, we are lucky enough to be surrounded on three sides by the sea, whilst the island nation of Great Britain boasts over 11,000 miles of coastline. Swap the airmiles for relaxing staycations and make the most of what’s on your doorstep. Cutting down on travel costs and connecting you more deeply with your local environment, days at your nearest or local beach will provide endless hours of nostalgic fun.
If you’re a water-baby, one of the best things about beach days is the chance to get in the sea. Depending on where you are and the conditions, there are plenty of options for water sports and activities that don’t disturb or threaten local wildlife. Slap on some reef-safe sunscreen and swap motorized activities and equipment for eco-friendly watersports. Bodyboarding, surfing, kayaking, paddle boarding and snorkelling are all particularly popular and can be enjoyed by all generations, with little-to-no carbon footprint, noise pollution and harm to wildlife.
Admire Wildlife from Afar
No matter how many times you’ve seen it, watching a dolphin burst through the waves, a seal relaxing on the beach or a seabird performing aerial acrobatics will never lose its novelty. If you are lucky enough to see wildlife during your trip to the beach, it may be tempting to get a little closer for a better look. That said, the very best thing you can do for the health and safety of all wildlife is to admire these beauties from afar. Sadly, human interaction, no matter how innocent, often leads to distress or injury, so it’s always good practice and good manners to give wildlife plenty of space.
Ditch the Plastic
Coming in all shapes and sizes, plastic is one of the most prolific beach offenders in the world. Tough, durable and hard to breakdown, it is used in homes and businesses everywhere and has lodged itself in every corner of the world – including our beaches. If you’re heading to the coast and would like to enjoy a sustainable beach day, ditch the plastic and instead use products made from sustainably-sourced materials instead. Say goodbye to plastic cutlery, wrappers, bottles and bodyboards and hello to planet-friendly alternatives. You can even wear eco-friendly swimwear.
Keep to the Paths
More often than not, there are well-worn tracks or even laid walkways directing you onto your favourite beach. Though the lure of quieter trails may be strong, it’s important to stick to designated paths as much as possible. This is because the coastal habitats that surround beaches are as complex as they are fragile and need specific conditions to thrive. By heading off-piste, be it through dunes or coastal land, you are likely walking over important nesting grounds, endangered or protected flora and fragile habitat that protects against coastal erosion and plays an important role in a much larger ecosystem.
Put the Rocks Back
Hunting for pretty pebbles along the shoreline is one of the most absorbing, and most addictive, pastimes on the beach. But did you know that pocketing these little treasures can lead to a hefty fine? Under the Coastal Protection Act 1949, removing any natural material like sand and pebbles from public beaches in the UK is actually illegal. This is because, en masse, they act as a natural sea defence against coastal erosion and without them, coastal habitats and communities are at a much greater risk of flooding. So, for a guilt-free, fine-free sustainable beach day, pop the rocks back!
Support Local Businesses
One of our top tips for a sustainable beach day wherever you are is to support local, eco-friendly businesses. By championing local businesses over corporate chains, you can support local economies, promote sustainable practices and, of course, enjoy locally-made or produced goods too. From local restaurants using ingredients sourced, foraged and grown within the local area to local crafters making sustainably-produced, planet-friendly goods, these businesses are the heartbeat of communities and the future of a more self-sufficient world.
Paws for Thought
Beach days wouldn’t be complete without all the pack, and that includes our four-legged friends. Fortunately, there are many, many dog-friendly beaches throughout Cornwall and the UK that welcome dogs and their ocean-loving owners to walk and play together. For a sustainable beach day, practicing good canine etiquette is key. Clean up after your dog, keep them on leads around wildlife and make sure they don’t dig in protected areas to ensure a happy, healthy space for everyone and guarantee lots of dog-friendly beach days to come.
If you’d like to take a look at some wonderful beach-friendly products and accessories for a sustainable beach day, browse our beach boutique here.