If like me, you’ve watched the new environmental documentary, Seaspiracy, on Netflix, you’re likely feeling a little hopeless right now. From animal cruelty to human slavery and ocean pollution, it was a tough film to watch.
But before we resign to the idea that making the world a better place is impossible, we should take a collective deep breath. I’m a big believer in the power of small actions and there are many small actions that we can take here.
Here are 12 simple things you can do every day, because all our contributions matter.
1 Eat Less Seafood
Cutting back or eliminating seafood from your diet is a big one. A reduction in seafood as a protein source will have a massively positive impact on the oceans. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, a third of commercial fish stocks are being depleted at unsustainable levels. Ninety percent have been fully exploited. As the demand for fish increases, ocean supplies are becoming depleted more quickly and ecosystems are being radically disrupted.
2. Reduce Your Energy Consumption
The ocean has absorbed 90% of the excess heat created by burning fossil fuels in the last half-century. Our beautiful blue has been working overtime for us. Sadly though this means that waters are warmer which is affecting where fish swim and their reproduction cycles. It’s also wreaking havoc on our sea levels which in turn creates more natural disasters on land. You can make a change by being conscious of your energy use at home and work; using public transport (or walking or riding your bike to work); switching to fluorescent light bulbs; turning off lights when they’re not needed and unplugging electronics. We can also find ways to demand more renewable energy options in your community.
3. Be Aware of Greenwashing
Some labels are trustworthy and helpful, while others are misleading and are just there to create a false sense of security. For example, on its own, the word “sustainable” means very little and looking for reputable certifications to ensure the food you buy is sustainable is critical. This is true for all food, not just fish. Learn more about how to spot greenwashing here.
4. Go Plant-Based
A surprising fact is that pigs, chickens and cows are the world’s leading oceanic predators. The waste runoff of livestock operations on land have caused more than 500 nitrogen flooded dead zones in the oceans. Animal agriculture is also responsible for more greenhouse gasses than the entire transport industry combined. Our appetite for meat is affecting the temperature and cleanliness of our waters. Buying products that are plant-based version of various sea animals, helps keep them on shelf, thereby giving others people considering change the option too. This is a powerful step you can take to be an advocate for change.
5. Less plastic!
The more plastic we use, the more plastic ends up in the ocean. It is estimated by 2050 there will be more plastic in the sea than fish. Interestingly the main source of ocean plastic pollution is not plastic straws but is actually fishing lines. (See Step # 1 and #4. Plant-based fish alternatives remove the need for fishing lines). As much as possible, reduce and reuse, and then recycle!
6. Take Care of the Beach
Whether you are relaxing on the beach, surfing or diving, always clean up after yourself. Respect the ocean by not interfering with wildlife or removing rocks and coral. Participate in or organise local beach clean ups. Pick up what you find no matter how big or small. Neglected, light-weight debris will be blown into the sea.
7. Read Labels and Educate Yourself
Don’t purchase items that exploit marine life and choose ocean-friendly products. There are many products on the market that harm fragile coral reefs and marine populations. Avoid purchasing coral jewellery, tortoiseshell hair accessories, cosmetics containing shark squalene and other shark product, as well as fish tank accessories which are often sourced from fragile coastal ecosystems. Don’t buy fish as pets either and take a strong stance against keeping exotic species in captivity.
8. Support Organisations That Protect the Ocean
There are many local and global organisations that are fighting to protect ocean habitats and marine wildlife, like the brave people of Sea Shepherd. Consider giving financial support or volunteering for hands-on advocacy. (Fry’s is actually donating all the proceeds from the global sales of their Fish-Style Fillets and Battered Prawn-Style pieces to Sea Shepherd. We hope to raise about $15 000 in the next 6-months. So one way to help is to stock up on these products. The bonus will be making your favourite fish dishes – guilt free).
9. Be the Change in Your Community
One person can make a difference! Start beach clean ups, ask restaurants and supermarkets to offer more plant-based and fish-free options. Speak up if you notice threatened species on the menu or seafood counter. Take some time to research the ocean policies of government officials before casting your vote. One of my favourites is cooking plant-based meals for friends and family to show them how delicious they can be. One of my fav fish-free party starter dishes is this dairy-free tzatziki dip with Fry’s Prawn-Style Pieces and all the crunchy veg.
10. Don’t Stop Learning
Keep inspired and continue learning about the issues facing our delicate ocean – then share that knowledge far and wide. Tell people what’s going on with the world’s oceans. Inspire others to make a difference by sharing these tips.
11. Share your knowledge with others
Inspire friends and family to watch Seaspiracy, post plant based fish recipes on your own social media pages and share interesting facts. Be the inspiration for someone else’s change!
12. It’s ok to be overwhelmed, but don’t let that stop you.
Watching something as harrowing as Seaspiracy can cause a lot of anxiety, but withdrawing from the cause won’t help. So after you’ve let yourself process what you’ve seen, find comfort in the fact that you can make a difference. It’s our collective action that can change the world, even though it feels hard at times.