Make a difference
How you can help
Sometimes it can be overwhelming when you visit an organisation’s website covering ‘ways to help’. There is often a huge amount of information and most websites require that you make some massive lifestyle change or invest a lot of your time. We fear that this sense of being overwhelmed can put people off, so we have compiled a list of what we feel are the ten most important ways you can help
We hope that you will find that some of these approaches are easy to fit to your lifestyle and that you can help us make a positive change. However, keep things in perspective. Being aware of the bigger problems is fundamental but can often seem overwhelming, so focus on solving them through the small things you can do every day.
Reduce your impact
1. Use your consumer power. Firstly however, we need to change our attitude as consumers because if there is less demand for something, then there is less supply for it. Remember that you, as a consumer, drive the market and have enormous buying power and influence. Each time you buy a product you are endorsing that product without realising it. Vote for environmentally friendly products through your buying actions by:
- Carrying a sustainable seafood wallet guide which tells you which species to buy and more importantly which species to avoid.
- Avoiding supplements that contain coral calcium and shark cartilage or products that contain squalene as this is often derived from sharks.
- Avoiding certain fish in your local fish and chip shop. Rock Salmon, Rock Eel, and Flake are all names for the Spiny Dog Fish, a shark that is vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered throughout its range. Avoid this fish altogether and try not to rely on cod as the only alternative as they are also under threat.
- Purchasing seafood from retailers that support sustainable seafood. Look out for the Marine Stewardship Council’s seal of approval and where to buy guide.
2. Being aware of harmful household cleaning products and chemicals that pollute water ways – remember that all waste products end up in our oceans! Many of these products contain phosphates, chlorine bleaches and/or optical brighteners that are often extremely difficult to biodegrade. Reduce, or better yet, eliminate the use of household non-biodegradable chemicals and detergents and only use environmentally friendly products instead. A good rule of thumb is to avoid products that do not list all the chemicals they contain (if the product has little or no information of what it contains, best to avoid it!).
3. Keeping beaches clean – many plastics and harmful debris caused by waste products harm sea life and pollute the ocean. Be responsible and take your rubbish with you – respect our natural environment, as this is the only one we have. Look out for beach cleaning projects at a beach near your home or at your holiday de stination, where you can volunteer your help.
Spread the word
4. Use your voice to empower people, discuss some of the issues with friends and family and see if they would be interested in receiving our news and updates.
5. Sign the petitions from large influential organisations such as Greenpeace, Marine Conservation Society, Shark Alliance, Shark Trust, WWF, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Once you have signed them you can usually forward the petition to your family and friends.
6. Attend one our talks, details here, and/or download our online resources for classroom teaching.
Individuals can make a difference - Read about Rachel Carson
Individuals can make a difference
Sometimes it seems that one individual couldn’t possibly make a difference when taking on large corporate companies or being one lone voice out of a crowd of voters. But it often takes the courage and conviction of individuals, not companies or governments, to make a significant difference – one true voice making a vital change to how we view our world. Rachel Carson was one such woman. In the 1960s she wrote a book called Silent Spring. The book highlighted the absence of birds and wildlife in the area where she lived following the use of DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane), one of the most harmful environmental pesticides in existence. The over-use of this harmful substance caused a catalogue of environmental cascades, some irreversible to this day.
When the book was first published in 1962, a lot of people were sceptical and branded Rachel Carson as nothing more than ‘scaremonger’, but she set the wheels in motion by highlighting the problem, and the book’s publication went on to be one of the signature events that kick-started the environmental movement and resulted in a large public outcry. This eventually led to DDT being banned in the US in 1972 and was subsequently banned for agricultural use worldwide under the Stockholm Convention signed in 2001 (There are however, some agricultural practices that still use DDT, such as disease vector control but its use is limited and the pesticide remains extremely controversial).
This is not an isolated case. There have been many more inspiring individuals who have influenced history books including Nelson Mandela, Anita Roddick, Emmeline Pankhurst, to name but a few. You don’t, however, have to be a pioneer who straps themselves to railings with a loud hailer in order to make a difference. You don’t even have to make big alterations in your own life. You can make small changes to your daily lifestyle, such as changing your diet by eating less meat & fish, recycling your plastics, refusing the free plastic carrier bags given out at supermarkets and being more aware as a consumer of the contents and origin of the products you buy. Lastly, but by no means the least, talk to your family & friends and share your knowledge. Spread the word – as this is sometimes all it takes to get companies and governments to listen and make positive changes in favour of the environment. You don’t even have to shout about the issue; let us do that if you would rather not speak out. Just informing people within your close family and social circles raises awareness about a particular issue, which, in turn, gains momentum.