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Jun 06.8

It's World Oceans Day: We're Celebrating and Protecting!

Posted In: Green >> LUSH Life

Today is World Oceans Day, a global celebration to appreciate the incredible resource that the ocean provides and work to conserve it for the future.

To help us to celebrate World Oceans Day, Erika Edwards from our Charity Pot team has joined the LUSH Blog. She creates change and works to protect our ocean starting at home with her family. This is her story.

The world's ocean connects us all, helps to feed us, regulate our climate, cleans the water we drink and generates most of the oxygen we breathe. Unfortunately, we're not always doing all that we can to protect it. Many things not native to our oceans wash up on our sea shores every day. You never know what you’ll find from running shoes, to dolls, to camping equipment. None of it belongs in our oceans yet you can’t walk on a beach or for that matter, any river’s edge or lakeside without running into garbage and debris that has found its way back up on to land.

When my 4 year old son was introduced to sea glass while playing at the beach with his grandma, he was intrigued, and took an instant liking to how shiny and gem-like it was. He started collecting sea glass, and now has close to 100 pieces in all shapes, sizes and colors from places all around the world. Not wanting to take away the magic of sea glass he hunted for and stowed away in his treasure box, I struggled with the idea that he saw ocean trash dumped in our oceans as jewels. Eventually he asked what sea glass was, and where it came from.

Most sea glass is made up glass bottles, and household items that most commonly have been dumped from ships and boats along shipping lanes and seashores. After decades of being tossed, tumbled and worn by the ocean, the glass gets broken and becomes smooth and frosted and ultimately is washed up on beaches around the world.

Rather than discourage him from collecting sea glass, I've taken the opportunity to use this to educate my son on the importance of keeping our oceans free of garbage, why recycling glass and plastics is necessary, and the how ocean pollution is a very serious concern for people, wildlife and our environment.

Solid waste like bags, foam, glass and plastics dumped into the oceans from land or by ships at sea are frequently consumed, with often fatal effects, by marine mammals, fish, and birds that mistake it for food. When trash litters our shores the effect is increased pollution, a depletion of fisheries, and environmental degradation.

These days most of our bottles and packaging are made of plastic where millions of tonnes of plastic is dumped every year into our oceans. This makes finding sea glass increasingly hard to find and there are many people who collect sea glass much like they do shells or fossils, just like my son. You only have to do a search online to see the number of communities sharing their love of sea glass.

This sea glass has allowed me to teach my son that there are ways to reuse and repurpose items so that they don’t end up back in the ocean or in there in the first place. How one person’s trash is another person’s treasure, as they say. I’ve also explained that the glass should never have been discarded in the first place, and that he should not take glass and toss it in the ocean in the hope that he’ll be able to collect it back again as sea glass when he's older.

Another thing I was able to do is share with him some of the wonderful work that groups are doing to help clean up our oceans, and protect our waterways. Some of which LUSH has been fortunate enough to help support through LUSH’s Charity Pot. Thanks to organizations such as Clean Ocean Action, Ottawa River Keepers, Upper Chattahoochee River Keeper, San Diego Coast Keepers, and Utah Rivers Council. Since then, my son has taken his treasure chest of sea glass to preschool for show and tell and shared it with his class adding the parts about ocean pollution, and keeping trash out of the sea. We also invited kids from his class to join us in a community beach clean-up to collect garbage, and just maybe some sea glass too.

It’s up to us to protect our oceans from future harm, and preserve it for our children, so we don’t continue to see massive garbage dumps in our waters, or marine life washing up on our shores. We can make a difference, and it starts with education and action.

5 Things You Can Do to Help Keep our Oceans Clean

1. Reduce the amount of trash you produce, and plastic you use by bringing a reusable tote bag, carry a reusable water bottle or cup, and limit you’re the amount of single use containers you use.

2. Take part in a river or ocean clean up. There are many happening in communities, or you can organize your own, all it takes are a few pairs of hands!

3. Help create change in your municipalities by asking your local governments to support increased ocean and river conservation.

4. Support groups that are working on research, education and actions to preservation of the oceans and marine life.

5. Reuse and repurpose items rather than discard them. There are so many ways to reuse reclaim things that you thought were garbage. Think twice before you send it to the landfill.