Contributor: Stacy Taylor
Heading to the beach this summer? You may notice that there is more and more plastic and garbage washing up on shore. Many people are now refusing single-use plastics (straw, cutlery, etc.) but there are even smaller plastics washing ashore; these come from plastic microbeads in cosmetics and cleaning products and microfibers, small plastics in synthetic fabrics.
How can one maintain an ecological awareness and enjoy the beach? One way is to reuse your old bathing suit; keep fabrics in use as long as possible before recycling or donating them. If you plan to purchase a new suit, there are several eco-friendly beach wear companies and stores popping up. These tend to use recycled fabrics and eco-friendly dyes, some even offset their emissions with renewable energy.
Finding a plastic free swimsuit is hard. Some clothing lines are starting to follow Oeko-Tex standards, which is a certification system for textile processing. The more popular that these brands become, the more we can expect to see Oeko-Tex and suits made of recycled fabrics becoming the norm.
Once a plastic free suit has been purchased, it is time to turn attention to plastic free sandals. Flip flops generally contain some plastic and rubber, well modern day ones. Traditional cultures used natural fibres to make their sandals, and some shoe lines are starting to go back to these roots and incorporate indigenous methods into natural shoes.
For a truly eco-beach adventure, it is worth noting that beach blankets could also have microfibers. The trick is to choose one that is made of natural fabrics or from a company that follows Oeko-Tek standards. Next is the picnic basket. If you already have a plastic one, or one that contains plastic – keep it! It is better to get all of the use you can out of existing plastic and then to recycle it when it is finished. If you are in the market for a new basket, look for a natural fabric or recycled one. Giving new life to something you find at a charity shop does keep items out of landfill. More importantly, what is inside the basket? Skip single-use plastics in favour of reusable or biodegradable ones, cloth napkins over disposable, reuse the dishes and compost the leftovers.
Finally, sunblock. Use a biodegradable, reef safe sunscreen to keep the chemicals from entering the water. Remember, even if you do not plan to swim, the sun cream will be washed off your body in the shower and enter the waterway through your drain.
Bio: Stacy has an environmental blog focusing on the impact that our beauty and cosmetics have on the environment. The site also offers reviews on products and the companies inherentskincare.com
She has been an active volunteer most of her life with organisations from Amnesty International to the SPCA. Currently she sits on the Board of Directors of Earthsave Canada and helps with the social media of Surfrider Vancouver.