THE MILLENIAL MERMAID: A reminder for summer

It’s the season for lighter hair, darker skin and quick getaways to the nearest beach to escape the summer heat in the city. While the onset of the summer season means lazy days ahead for those at school, this season is just another change in the temperature for those like us in the workforce. Still, summer brings a lot of things to be excited about especially if you’re planning a quick trip during the holidays in the next few weeks.

In course of planning your perfect summer getaway, I’m sharing a few reminders of how we can all be responsible stewards of the only home we’ll ever have in this universe, Earth. These reminders come with a heavy heart as I was recently on a trip from my home break.

I haven’t been back to Dahican in almost a month and it was so nostalgic to be back. I timed my visit when the swell was picking up so I could maximize surfing quality waves during my stay. The amount of plastic I saw on the shoreline was just too much to handle.

There was plastic everywhere. I couldn’t help it that each time I’d walk, I’d end up picking up plastic and it would take me longer to get from point A to point B on the beach since there was just so much plastic lying around.

Dear reader, I pray you don’t contribute to the alarming amounts of trash in our beaches. Instead, I have high hopes that you, in your own little way, can add to the growing voices that spread awareness about protecting what we love. Here are five ways we can start:

  1. Refuse the straw!

Straws can kill beautiful sea turtles, take more than a human lifetime to decompose and are used just once. I don’t know why we ever started using straws but you can start a plastic-free habit by saying no to straws when you’re ordering drinks.

Can’t live without straws to sip your fruit shake or smoothies? Buy a bamboo or metal straw that you can easily bring with you on your trips. These are inexpensive options that have a huge impact if all of us refused the straw.

Chill Station in Dahican and Davao’s Surf Shack, as well as Clean Beach Co in La Union, don’t use plastic straws and plastic containers to serve their drinks and refreshments. Support local establishments like these that take the extra mile to rid our beaches of plastic, one customer, at a time.

  1. Don’t step on the coral reefs.

We should treat corals and our underwater gardens like we do manicured lawns of establishments in the city — no stepping on the grass. It’s the same with corals. When you step on them, you kill them slowly. Avoid touching corals or even breaking off a “branch” to take home with you a souvenir. When you step or even touch the reef you are removing tiny animals that can’t survive outside of their reef home. Even the tiniest touch causes damage to the coral itself. Keep your distance and just take photos.

Corals are living organisms, unlike rocks and boulders where you can sit and step on all day. We, humans, are the biggest threats to marine life especially to coral reefs, let’s do something about this. Be a responsible snorkeler or diver.

Souvenirs are photos, not shells or starfish or coral.

It takes years for one piece of coral to grow back after somebody rips it off from the reef. Marine wildlife should be left where they belong, undisturbed. Shells are beautiful like corals but they don’t belong to anybody to sell or buy in the first place!

These should be left in the ocean where they belong. If everyone in the planet got corals, shells and marine creatures, we wouldn’t have enough sand to cover our shores and we wouldn’t have beautiful creatures to look at when we go snorkeling or diving anymore.

If there’s no demand for such souvenirs, people (especially the locals who try to make a living out of these types of souvenirs) will stop mining the coral reefs for production. Refuse to buy these souvenirs and you’re doing a great ton of help in protecting our coral reefs.

 

  1. Don’t litter, be a picker!

Trash anywhere greatly impacts our planet. Don’t leave anything – plastic bags, wrappers, and leftover food anywhere if you can help it. Avoid adding up to the ton of waste that’s floating around our oceans and sewage systems.

I don’t know why we aren’t used to it but we should make it a habit to pick up trash that we see. It’s not natural but we can make it a habit. Let’s be conscious of the fact that each trash that’s left lying around on the sand will eventually find its way into our oceans.

Last week, I was surfing out with the locals in our favorite breaks. I was paddling into a wave and just about the last paddle that I needed to catch that wave, I caught myself paddling into a huge colorless plastic bag. It was bad enough that I didn’t catch that wave but it was frustrating how I’m personally affected by some random plastic floating in the sea.

If I couldn’t paddle properly to catch a wave, how can fishes or turtles or dolphins swim if they caught in plastic?? No wonder animals die when they get caught in plastic. Please, let’s not add to this destruction.

Next week, I’ll share more reminders and tips on how we can all become eco-warriors in our own little ways. Read how you can start living plastic-free on the blog: www.millennialmermaid.com and let me know if you have more ideas on how we can help each other out!