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June 8 is World Oceans Day. The special day draws our awareness to the health of our oceans around the world.
As I read articles I realized how crucial the connection is between our health and the oceans’ health. Healthy oceans, healthy us. Unhealthy oceans, unhealthy us.
While my posts on Journey With Healthy Me typically focus on health and wellness for humankind, I felt compelled to share a different kind of post tonight.
Our futures and the future of our planet depend on the health of our oceans. And how are Earth’s oceans faring? They are in trouble.
The Heart and Lungs of the Planet
No matter where you live, you are connected to the oceans. Even land locked midwesterners, like me, are intricately linked to the seas.
The oceans of Earth are the heart and lungs of the planet. They produce over half of the world’s oxygen and absorb 50 times more carbon dioxide than the atmosphere. Covering 70% of the earth’s surface, oceans transport heat from the equator to the poles, regulating climate and weather patterns.
Oceans are also important in the transportation and trade industry, and in providing jobs, food and ingredients used in medicines.
Plus there are health benefits associated with being near the sea. Swimming in the ocean improves blood circulation, helps with joint pain, improves muscular strength and promotes longevity. The salty seawater contains minerals that help moisturize and heal the skin.
Beyond the physical benefits, being near the ocean lowers stress and anxiety, reduces heart and respiration rates and eases depression.
Threats to the Oceans
Human activities are threatening the health of the oceans, which in turn threatens our own wellbeing.
More than 80% of marine pollution comes from land based activities. From coral bleaching to a rise in sea level, the whole marine ecosystem is rapidly changing.
Threats to the oceans include:
- global warming
- pesticides and agricultural products that end up in coastal waters, depleting oxygen and killing marine life and plants
- sewage and runoff from factories and industrial plants
- oil spills
- overfishing which is depleting fish and sea life
- plastics that end up in the oceans, disrupting the eco-system and killing marine life
- invasive species of algae that thrive in waters that have warmed up, disrupting the ecological balance
Healing Our Oceans
Remember the four Rs of taking care of the planet and the oceans…Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Refuse.
Here are things we can all do to ensure healthy oceans, healthy us.
Reduce Energy Consumption
By reducing energy use we reduce the effects of climate change on the oceans. Leave the car at home as often as possible. Walk or ride a bike when you can. Switch to LED lightbulbs at home. Take the stairs. Turn off lights when leaving the room. Also turn off appliances, computers and other electrical devices when not in use. Raise the thermostat in summer and lower it in winter. Support clean alternative energy solutions.
Plant a garden or shop farmer’s markets and co-ops. Buy organic produce when possible. Eat a plant based diet.
Make Sustainable Seafood Choices
Fish populations are rapidly depleting due to demand, loss of habitat and unsustainable fishing practices. When dining out or shopping for seafood, reduce the demand on overexploited species by choosing seafood that is sustainable.
Better yet, stop eating seafood.
Eliminate Plastic Products
Plastics that end up in the ocean cause habitat destruction and entangle and kill tens of thousands of marine animals every year.
Help by eliminating plastic water bottles. Carry a reusable metal water container instead. Store leftover food in reusable glass containers. Carry your own cloth shopping bags to stores. And recycle or reuse if you do purchase items in plastic cartons.
Avoid single use plastics such as straws, plasticware, cups, bags and bottles.
Don’t Purchase Items that Harm Marine Life
Educating ourselves about the products we buy helps protect marine life. Certain products, such as some sunscreens, damage coral reefs and marine populations.
Never flush kitty litter which contains pathogens harmful to marine animals. Don’t purchase coral jewelry, tortoiseshell hair accessories (made from hawksbill turtles) and shark products. Squalene, often found in cosmetics, is derived from sharks.
Create Change Through Choices
Support organizations working to protect oceans and marine life. Volunteer to clean a beach. Sign petitions to promote ocean-friendly legislation and sustainable ocean policies.
Patronize restaurants and grocery stores that offer only sustainable seafood. Do ocean presentations at schools and organizations. And support ocean artists and film makers by watching their documentaries. A couple of good documentaries to watch: Seaspiracy and My Octopus Teacher, both on Netflix.
Purchase products that reduce the impact on the earth and the oceans.
Refuse straws at restaurants. Carry metal straws if you must drink with a straw.
Don’t Attend Dolphin and Marine Life Shows
Many people are becoming increasingly concerned about the practice of keeping marine animals in captivity. Marine animals are ecologically connected to the ocean environment. They do not thrive in confinement. Say no to dolphin and large marine life shows.
Healthy Oceans Healthy Us
I noticed a shift in my awareness, when I began a plant based lifestyle.
First I focused on my own body and my own health. As my health and wellbeing improved I became appreciative of the wonders of the human body and how a healthy body responds.
Then my attention focused outward, on the health and wellbeing of others. This blog is a result of that shift. I want other people to experience their optimal health as well and live a full, vibrant life.
And finally, my awareness expanded to encompass the earth and the health and wellbeing of the planet and all life. I’m mindful of the impact I have on the earth and all its inhabitants. My desire is to take care of myself, help others take care of themselves and for all of us, together, to take care of our home, Planet Earth.
We must pay attention to what’s happening with the world’s oceans. To thrive here in health, our oceans must thrive too.
For World Oceans Day…and every day…we can do our part to ensure a future for the oceans and for ourselves. Won’t you join me?
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