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With Beach Clean Up Day reminding us the importance of keeping our shores clean,, now is the perfect time to think about what each of us can do year-round to make sure our favorite beach vacation spots stay beautiful for generations to come. We asked Kelly Stilwell, our Florida expert and Travelocity Gnational Gnomad, to share her ideas. Plus, let us know in the comments what you’re doing to help keep our beaches and oceans clean!
Pick up around you
I’m so fortunate to live about 30 minutes from the Gulf of Mexico in Florida. If you go to the beach, you know the drill: You carry your chairs, towels, toys for the kids, cooler and other beach paraphernalia through the sand to find the perfect spot. Inevitably, you find Styrofoam cups, bottle caps, wrappers, cans and other trash left behind by others. Solution: Stick a trash bag in your beach bag and clean up around your spot.
Give the kids a beach clean up challenge
Kids love a challenge! Ask your kids to run around and see if they can find 10 pieces of trash to add to the bag. Even better? Give them a list of things to collect and see how many they can find. Simply make a list of items like plastic spoons, cups, bottle caps, cans, food wrappers, straws and juice boxes. Assign a point to each piece of trash and see who wins. I might suggest ice cream all around as a reward!
Pack food in reusable containers
How many times have you seen overflowing trash cans at the beach, especially on holidays? People keep shoving the trash in until it pours out onto the parking lot. This garbage could easily end up on the beach or in the ocean. Instead of adding your containers to the trash cans at the beach, pack your goodies in a reusable container.
Make the switch to reusable water bottles
According to the Earth Day website, humans use one million plastic bottles per minute! Only about 23% are recycled in the U.S. Americans purchase about 50 billion water bottles per year or around 13 bottles per month per person. YOU can make a difference of 156 bottles per year by switching to a reusable bottle. Fewer bottles in use means fewer bottles on our beaches, and in our oceans and landfills.
Make your dive matter
If you’re a scuba diver, get involved in Dive Against Debris. More than 8 million tons of trash enter our oceans each year, and a good portion of it sinks to the bottom. This organization recruits volunteer divers to join in the cleanup.
Join an organized beach clean up
Check out the International Coastal Clean Up‘s web site in the run up to September 21, and find a location for a beach clean up near you. They even have an app where you can record your own beach clean-up efforts, or start an organized clean up in your neck of the woods. The Ocean Blue Project website also has a list of organized beach clean ups already scheduled. Simply find one near you and click to join the effort. You’ll also find petitions you can sign that will be presented to government officials to help protect our oceans and environment.
Encourage others to participate
National Clean Up Day is also on September 21, and it’s not just about our beaches, but about our planet. Another way to get involved is to post a flyer at your local coffee shop or grocery store. Get your ready-made flyer, and be sure to ask the shop’s permission before posting!
Another way to encourage action? Posting photos of your beach clean up on social media might just spur on your family and friends to get involved (social good is a contagion). Post using #NationalCleanUpDay and you might end up with a huge group of friends who want to take part together!
We can all make a difference when we get out of our comfort zone to help causes that are important to us. Take a look at other volunteer opportunities in Travelocity’s Travel for Good™ initiative and get involved. Check out these ideas for planning a volunteerism trip. A vacation for a cause can be a wonderful family bonding experience!
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