How to Help Prevent Damage to Our Oceans

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Our oceans are a place of great beauty, incredible wonders, amazing mystery, and even a source of some of our deepest fears or thrills. Our oceans are important to us for many reasons, with food, transportation, recreation, medical sources, and energy being just some of the benefits we gain from them.
Yet, oceans are suffering from our activities too; our land practices cause agricultural run-off, sewage, and litter to end up in the oceans daily, and there is now so much trash in the ocean that we’ve created garbage vortexes where all the trash heads to.[1] Damage to our oceans is damage to our livelihoods, well-being, and nourishment; damage to our oceans lacks respect for our oceans’ intrinsic value. As individuals, we can do more to ensure that the oceans are cared for and respected. In this article, you’ll learn some quick and easy ways to help prevent damage to our oceans.


  1. Start by learning what you can about the oceans. This will instill awe, respect, and most likely a passion in you for all things sea, and the more you know, the more you will understand the importance of doing our bit to care for the oceans. Some of the things to read up on include the problems of overfishing, the impacts of climate change on the ocean, the impact of agricultural/industrial/sewage waste in the oceans, and the ways in which ocean systems work. Learn about the species in the ocean, and the geological features and hazards, and finally, but importantly, learn about how much human beings rely on the oceans for everything from livelihood and nutrition, to relaxation and hobbies.
    • If you don’t already know about such events as the depletion of the Grand Banks codfish fishery, read up on them and learn about how centuries of fishing sustainably has been overtaken by huge industrial fishing boats, nets much larger than several football fields, and factory trawlers. If you’re not concerned yet, then consider that scientists are very worried, to the point of saying that there will be no fish for us to pull from the seas in 50 years if we continue to carry on fishing as we are now.[2][3][4] Scientists have recently found out that the Earth has run out of room to expand fisheries, so we’re left with what we have already depleted.[5]
  2. Know what not to put down your drains. Pollution from drains can often end up in the seas and it’s here that you can do a great deal as a householder, by following these simple steps:
    • Do not dispose of paint, solvents, cleaners, pesticides, or other chemicals down the drain. Know what is hazardous waste and find out about local collection and recycling programs in your area.
    • Dispose of used motor oil properly. Find out if your city or town has a recycling program, or ask if local auto shops can help.
    • Never dump chemicals onto soil or roads, or down storm drains.
    • Use pesticides and herbicides sparingly or not at all. Even if you don’t live near the sea, much of the run-off from your garden ends up down the drain, which wends its way down to the sea eventually. Tolerate a few bugs (many can actually help your garden) or use natural pest control methods. Crowd out weeds, smother them, or pull them by hand.
    • Use ocean-friendly products. Paints, soaps, nail polish, and other chemicals can harm the ocean life.
    • Dispose safely of mercury items such as old batteries and thermometers. Hand them in to your local mercury disposal center to make sure they are disposed of properly and efficiently.
  3. Dispose of your trash with care. The manner in which you get rid of your household and business trash matters a great deal. Some items can create enormous harm if they reach the oceans, such as the plastic ring six-pack holders used for cans/bottles, and plastic bags. Sea animals and birds get caught in these items, or ingest them as “food”, and suffer slow, agonizing deaths.
    • If you must purchase items with plastic six-pack holders, cut the top into small pieces prior to disposal.
    • Recycle as much as you can. The more, the better, so it goes nowhere else than into the virtuous cycle of humans reusing our own junk.
    • Hold on to your balloons. Many of them land in the ocean and lose their color. Animals think they are jellyfish or other tasty morsels, swallow them, and die painfully, often by starvation as the balloon blocks their ability to feed.[6]
    • Reduce the amount of trash coming out of your house by not even bringing home items that end up as trash. Use reusable bags, leave packaging with the store (ask them to reduce it in future), buy unprocessed food products without packaging, prefer stores and items that have less packaging, and simply buy less.
  4. Keep your plumbing in good shape and use water sparingly. Not only does this ensure that your house retains its worth and guards you and your family’s health, maintaining your plumbing and having regular checks on it is important for ensuring that nothing untoward is leaking seaward. Moreover, don’t waste water; water tends to find its way back to the sea eventually and the more fresh water you use, the more you are depleting a precious resource. And the more we add to water by way of cleaning products, personal hygiene products, medicines, and other added chemicals and items, the more we increase the potential for polluting the sea.
    • If your house is served by a septic system, make sure it is inspected and pumped out every three years.
    • Never allow raw toilet waste to enter the ocean from your property. Not only is this unhygienic for human users of the ocean (and therefore usually regulated) but it harms the sea life as well.
    • Install water-saving toilets. These save you money and save on how much water is used and needs to be treated.
    • Install shower heads that restrict the flow of water. Faucet flow can be likewise restricted.
    • Take shorter showers, use timers in the garden for watering, turn off the water when brushing your teeth, and ensure that your washing machine and dishwasher are fill before doing a washing load.
    • If you can install a gray-water system for your home, this can be of enormous benefit as you will be able to reuse a lot of your household water for watering the garden and other suitable external uses.
    • Cover your pool to prevent loss by evaporation. A covered pool can cut the loss of water by up to 90 percent.[7]
    • Support budget measures as needed to upgrade municipal waste-water treatment systems to improve pollution control.
  5. Learn the difference between sustainably caught seafood and non-sustainably caught seafood. Only purchase seafood that has been harvested in a sustainable manner and voice your concerns about unsustainable methods on your blog, through letters and petitions to companies and to companies responsible for poor fishing practices, and by contacting your local representative. There are many seafood guides available online that help guide you in knowing which fish are caught sustainably; for example, in the United States, The Monterey Bay Aquarium runs a program called “Seafood Watch” that includes a pocket-sized guide that you can download.[8] Such pocket guides are available for many parts of the world, just do an online search for more information.
    • Support stores and supermarkets that sell sustainably caught seafood.
    • Choose to go to restaurants that support the sale of sustainably caught seafood. Point out to those restaurants that don’t sell sustainable catch that you’re not going to patronize them until they do and that you will also ask your family and friends to steer clear until the restaurant changes its policies.
  6. Join a beach or underwater clean-up group. If you want to get hands on and do something really useful, clean-up is a great way to get involved. Beach clean-ups are usually organized locally by community groups or municipalities, and in some places they’re even country-wide on specific dates. These are great for family outings because children will be able to help collect trash from the shoreline and will have a real sense of achievement once it’s done. For underwater clean-ups, you’ll need to know how to dive but this is just as satisfying, knowing that you’re removing the plastic bags, plastic items, twine, containers, etc., that inevitably find their way to the ocean.
    • Don’t litter. This simple decision can make a huge difference; every piece of litter near the seaside has the potential to end up in the ocean, whether it makes its way there by wind, tides, or by animal carriers. Put all of your trash in designated trash bins or take it home for proper disposal.
    • Volunteer at a local wildlife preserve located near a body of water to help out on a cleanup effort. Your work will be appreciated.
    • Consider donating your time or money to a non-profit organization whose mission includes ocean conservation.
  7. Carpool. This can help you take the fast lane to work or school, as well as helping you to conserve gasoline. You might consider buying a hybrid car, which uses regenerative braking and saves gasoline and money. Also, you could use mass transit, such as trains or buses. Doing this allows you to do things such as reading the newspaper or actually enjoy your coffee, which you couldn’t do peacefully while driving. Diesel, gas, and smokestack emissions can lead to haze, toxic emissions, or acid rain, which can lead to harmful effects in the oceans.
  8. Enthuse your kids in the love of oceans. Children are fantastic ambassadors for the sea; they love beaches, they love learning about sea life, and they’re usually keen on swimming, boat rides, and other sea activities. Take them to the beach as often as you can and spend time talking to them about the sea, the dunes, the animals they can see, and answer their questions about the ocean. Explain to them why it is important to take care of the ocean.
    • Take a litter bag with you when you visit the beach and pick up visible litter, such as fishing line, plastic bags, bottles, and other trash. Naturally, don’t stick your fingers inside containers or under anything that might harbor a biting beastie; use your common sense and take gardening gloves if you’re concerned about touching things with your bare hands.
  9. Keep your boat green. When cleaning and sprucing up your boat, think about the ocean. Most of what you’re doing on a boat will end up in the ocean, so it’s important to be thoughtful about the impact of your activities. Prefer cleaning solutions, paint, varnish, etc., that have been approved as ocean-friendly. If you’re not sure, contact your local boating association or a local marine environment association for more details relevant to your area, and read wikiHow’s How to boat green for more details.
  10. Focus your career on marine conservation. If you’re really keen about doing your part to protect the oceans, a career focused on the oceans might be the way to go for you. There are plenty of options, including becoming a marine biologist, a government fisheries expert, an oceans law expert, an oceans management expert, an environmentally friendly boat cleaner, a shoreline zoologist or botanist, or even an oceans policy adviser in government or a political party.


The ocean makes life on Earth possible, and it needs our help. Most people don’t realize the long list of benefits the ocean provides us, nor how much we are connected and dependent on it.


  • If you’re really keen, there are a few books around that detail an extraordinary amount of ways in which you can help to save the oceans, such as David Helvarg’s 50 Ways to Save the Ocean. Ask for advice at your local library or book retailer for relevant books.
  • Buy the right type of light bulb. Fluorescent light bulbs are probably the best. They give off light well, are quite cheap, and qualify you for a tax rebate in certain states or countries. Not a bad way to save that extra money! Also, fluorescent light uses very little electricity, which burns less coal. Less coal leads to less pollution in the ocean.
  • Dispose of used batteries, computers and electronics and fluorescent light bulbs properly. If the contents of these items end up leaking into the ocean, their hazardous by-products can kill a lot of marine life.
  • Assist and encourage your local, state/provincial/regional, and federal/national government’s efforts to reduce water pollution and provide sustainable management of ocean resources.
  • Use your own bags instead of using plastic bags. If every family in the United States used five bags a week, that’s over 1.8 billion plastic bags per year; enough to cover Mount Everest many times over. And that’s just the United States in one year.
  • Make sure every sink and toilet in your house is plumbed reasonably well to avoid any damage to your plants or the environment.
  • Report any unsanctioned activities that you see happening that are harming our oceans.


  • Always use chemicals carefully and watch what you’re doing! There are always alternatives in the great world of science just waiting to be discovered.
  • Don’t care or can’t be bothered? Perhaps bear in mind that the oceans are a source of health and life for you and your family and without their temperature regulating abilities, their abundant seafood, and their source of medicines, useful objects, and beauty, your comfortable life would be incredibly diminished. Don’t leave yourself open to thinking “They should have done something about that before it was too late”. You can do something now, as an individual, as a family member, as a community member, and as a citizen.

Things You’ll Need

  • Internet access or library for research
  • Recycling bins
  • Decreased garbage disposal by decreased packaging usage

Related wikiHows

Sources and Citations


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