Happy holidays, ocean friends! It’s the most wonderful – and unfortunately, most wasteful – time of the year. Whether you’re jet-setting to visit friends and family afar, attending parties or exchanging gifts galore, you’re bound to encounter a little more trash than usual this season. And we’re here to help!
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, American household waste increases 25% between Thanksgiving Day and New Year’s Day, or an extra 1 million tons each year. During this time, increasing amounts of food waste, shopping bags, packaging, wrapping paper, bows and ribbons all add up to an additional 1 million tons of trash per week. As divers know all too well, much of this rubbish never makes its way to proper waste management systems – instead, debris is carried down city storm drains, rivers and streams to our oceans, polluting marine environments and endangering wildlife.
So how can we stop this Ugly Journey of our Trash? The holiday season provides a perfect opportunity to practice mindfulness and reduce our consumption and interaction with debris-related items.
Follow these “ocean friendly” tips to keep your holiday celebrations ocean friendly and debris-free:
1) Gift Mindfully.
Gift meaningful experiences, purchase from environmentally responsible businesses, and donate to causes you, your friends and family care about. You could:
- Book a dive trip for your friends or family with a 100% AWARE Partner
- Give the gift of ocean protection! Make a donation to Project AWARE in your loved one’s name to help support our shark and ray protection and marine debris work.
- Use Amazon Smile when shopping online and Project AWARE will receive a donation with every purchase you make at no cost to you.
2) Minimize Gift Wrap Waste.
Try alternative gift wrapping methods. Upcycle old newspaper, reuse old ribbons, or try the Japanese Furoshiki technique with reusable fabric instead of disposable wrapping paper. Want to go completely zero-waste with your gift wrapping? Use the old “hide it behind your back” method – it’s fun and completely trash-free!
3) Practice Ocean-Friendly Travel.
Research eco-conscious tourism providers and make sure to book your trip with responsible vendors. And when you travel, remember to pack reusable items like a stainless steel water bottle, cloth napkin and bamboo eating utensils so you can say “No, thank you” to the single-use plastic items offered to you in airplanes, convenience stores and travel rest stops.
4) Share the True Meaning of the Season – Give Back.
Celebrate the holidays mindfully. Spend meaningful time with loved ones – take them diving, share your love for the ocean with them, encourage them to join you and take action for conservation. Volunteer your time or make a donation to ocean protection.
Make every dive you take this holiday season and year-round count for conservation. Dive Against Debris to remove and report any trash that makes its way to the ocean this holiday season. With your help, we’re working to keep trash out of underwater environments to reach our vision of a clean, healthy ocean planet.
Photo courtesy Liquid Dumaguete - Christmas Hat Marine Debris