Plastic Free July at the Beach

Make Waves, Not Waste: Fun Tips for a Green Delaware Vacation.

The harmful effects of microplastics have dominated recent news, with reports of how they have been found within every sample from human test subjects, even in the air we breathe. So, there is no better time to celebrate Plastic Free July, a global movement aimed at reducing plastic waste. Below are some ways for Delaware vacationers to enjoy their trips while contributing to a healthier, plastic-free environment.

Pack Reusable Items

Reusable Water Bottles & Cups: Skip the bottled water by bringing a reusable water bottle. Many beach towns offer spots for filling up your bottles without having to purchase them in plastic. Similarly, pack a reusable coffee cup for your morning java.

Shopping Bags & Containers: Bring reusable shopping bags for groceries and souvenirs (and most grocery stores in the area offer them to purchase at checkout). For beach picnics, use reusable containers for snacks and meals. This reduces the need for single-use plastics.

Bamboo & Metal Straws: Instead of using plastic straws, carry a bamboo or metal straw, which are compact, easy to clean, and help reduce plastic waste significantly.

Choose Plastic-Free Alternatives

Eco-Friendly Sunscreens: About 70 percent of sunscreens in the U.S. market contain harsh chemicals (such as oxybenzone and octinoxate) which can damage or kill coral reefs, causing irrevocable harm. Select sunscreens in plastic-free packaging or reef-safe brands to protect marine life. Many are sold locally, just be sure to check the label.

Participate in Local Activities

Beach Clean-Ups: There are several opportunities to join an upcoming beach cleanup or create one of your own with friends and family. Joining a cleanup is an opportunity to meet locals and fellow travelers alike while sharing a passion for the environment. The official state-sponsored cleanup is set for Saturday Sept. 14, with others sponsored by the Delaware chapter of Surfrider. Or you can choose to take part in the state’s Adopt-a-Beach program.

Eco-Tours & Workshops: There is an abundance of opportunities to explore and learn about the rich ecosystem the Delaware coastal area offers. Whether it’s a tour through the waterways by boat or a hike through one of the state parks, becoming informed of the effects we have on the environment is a powerful tool for change.

Support Sustainable Businesses

Local Markets: Many local markets typically use less plastic packaging than supermarkets and support the local economy. The Delaware Department of Agriculture lists a number of the pop-up farmers’ markets throughout the county for your next shopping spree at the beach.

Eco-Friendly Accommodations: When possible, choose accommodations that prioritize sustainability, or make small changes with requests to help reduce the impact on the environment. Many hotels/motels/rentals now offer plastic-free amenities, recycling programs, and even organize environmental activities for guests. Frommer’s lists several suggestions for staying green when visiting coastal Delaware.

Educate & Advocate

Spread the Word: Social media is the perfect platform to not only share picturesque beach shots, but also an opportunity to inspire friends and family to have a positive environmental impact. Some of the most popular tags to share include: #PlasticFreeJuly, #sustainability, #sustainable, #zerowaste.

Plan Your Activities Wisely

Water Activities: Coastal Delaware is renowned for its picturesque waterways and beaches. Paddleboards, kayaks, kiteboarding and canoeing are just some of the ways to explore the waterways with leaving behind only the wake from your watercraft.

Dining Out: The Delaware beaches are also known for their culinary excellence. When dining out, politely decline plastic utensils, straws, and condiment packets. Many restaurants in town are happy to accommodate.

Involve Children

Educational Activities: The State Park system within Delaware, as well as several local environmental organizations, fill the summer calendar with trips, camps and excursions that explore the area and provide countless opportunities to share knowledge of ways to reduce our footprint on the area.

Creative Projects: Don’t let children get discouraged if they spot trash on the beach. Instead use it as an opportunity to inspire and create. The Ocean Conservancy web site provides a list of ways in which you can repurpose that trash into something beautiful and functional, from toys to gardens.

Be a Mindful Consumer

Minimalist Packing: Pack light and avoid bringing unnecessary plastic items. Instead of purchasing “travel sizes,” pack reusable containers for liquid items. This not only reduces waste but also makes travel easier.

Commemorating Plastic Free July while vacationing at a beach resort town in Delaware is not only environmentally beneficial but it also enhances your travel experience. By incorporating these practices, you can enjoy a memorable and eco-friendly vacation while modeling a positive example for others and contributing to reducing plastic pollution. Every small action counts towards a healthier planet.  

MERR is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to the conservation of marine mammals and sea turtles and their habitat. MERR provides rescue and response for stranded marine animals that occur throughout the state of Delaware. If you encounter a stranded marine mammal or sea turtle, contact 302.228.5029.

Rob Rector has served as naturalist and board member for 20 years, is a certified Protected Species Observer, and leads weekly dolphin observation tours that use citizen science to gather information on our local Bottlenose Dolphin populations.

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