In an archipelago made up of more than 7,000 islands, it’s not too difficult to find a resort or beach where you can recharge, relax, and forget your worries for a short while. As evidenced by our social media posts, many of us Filipinos profess an affinity for water and require our dose of #vitaminsea every summer. Despite this, many avid beach-lovers can attest that we need to show our beaches and bodies of water a bit more TLC. The years and the influx of tourists haven’t been kind to some of our favorite summer destinations, and many of them have been degraded by pollution and lack of proper management.
As tourists and travelers, how can we contribute to keeping our beaches and bodies of water clean? How can we help ensure that our lovely beaches in Batangas, Boracay, or anywhere in the country can still be enjoyed by the next generation? Here are 5 things that we can do to make our beach holidays more sustainable and eco-friendly.
- Invest in reusable containers. Single-use plastics are one of the world’s most prevalent pollutants, and it’s only right that we try to avoid them in our home and workplace. Many people are already using tumblers and other reusable containers in their daily life. It’s tempting, though, to resort to using single-use plastics during holidays because we simply don’t want to take our empty reusable containers back home with us. If you don’t want to deal with bulky containers, you can invest in resealable silicone bags. These leak-free containers can be flattened once empty, and thus, don’t need a lot of space in your bag.
- Use reef-friendly sunscreen. Applying sunscreen is a must for any person, regardless if they’re heading to the beach or if they’re just going out for a short shopping trip. However, did you know that many types of sunscreen can damage corals and other marine life? Sunscreens often contain oxybenzone and octinoxate, substances that can make corals prone to bleaching, which in turn can affect the health of the beach and the marine life around it. The good news is that there are alternatives. Reef-friendly sunscreen, which is available in the country, can protect both you and the places you love. These usually contain titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, which don’t harm corals.
- Take pictures responsibly. A trip to the beach is always a good opportunity for selfies and photoshoots. However, some people can be irresponsible about this, flattening plants, stepping on corals, and scooping marine animals out of their habitat just to take a ‘unique’ picture. Let’s do our best to leave these flora and fauna alone and try to take pictures of them without handling them. In addition to not stressing them out, watching these plants and animals from a distance can be safer for us humans, too.
- Leave the beach at a cleaner state. Leave nothing but footprints is a line that many travelers love. However, leaving nothing behind is no longer enough to keep our beaches clean and beautiful. While we want everyone to be responsible for their own trash, it also wouldn’t hurt if we can pick up litter when we encounter them on the beach. You can also take photos of your recently acquired collection before you put them in the appropriate trash can, taking part in the growing #trashtag movement.
- Recycle at the end of every beach trip. Aside from taking efforts to minimize your wastes during your beach holiday, you can also indulge in little recycling projects after the trip. You can turn your empty bottles and snack packets into eco-bricks, for example. This relatively easy project not only takes trash away from the environment but transforms them into affordable and sturdy construction materials.
Our part in taking care of our beloved beaches may be small, but a little goes a long way if we collectively take steps to care for our environment. Make a habit of these 5 activities and teach them to younger travelers so that they, too, can continue to care for and enjoy clean beaches and crystal clear waters.