1. BIN FOR THE WIN
Always throw trash in the can. Garbage left outside might harm wildlife and end up in the ocean. Trash that’s properly brought to a landfill is kept out of the sea.
2. DUMP PLASTIC
According to one study, over eight million tons of plastic pollution end up in the ocean each year. Drink from a refillable water bottle, place your sandwich in cloth or a reusable container, and use bar soap instead of bottled.
3. BEST BEACH
Scientists estimate that about half the world’s sea turtles accidentally eat plastic and other trash. Keep the ocean clean by never leaving toys or trash at the beach.
4. GARBAGE CLUB
Form a club in your classroom to reduce your waste at school. Monitor what’s thrown away each week, and think about ways to cut down on those items.
5. BUST THE BALLOONS
Balloons eventually fall back down to Earth … and can end up in the ocean, entangling animals or being mistaken for food. Skip the balloons at your next party, and ask friends to do the same.
6. TRASH TROOPER
Participate in a community cleanup. The groups that host the events sometimes weigh the collected trash, which helps leaders make decisions about laws that encourage people to waste less.
7. BUSINESS TALK
Does your favorite ice-cream shop use plastic spoons? Ask an adult to help you talk to the owner about switching to a non-plastic option. Some kinds of spoons are even edible!
8. RECYCLE RIGHT
People in the United States recycle only about 35 percent of their waste, so recycle what you can. Ask for help to create a paper and plastic recycling program in your classroom.
9. DO-GOOD GOODIE BAG
Don’t fill your birthday goodie bags with plastic yo-yos and other trinkets for your friends. Instead, give them homemade treats or coupons to a local bakery.
10. FISH RESPONSIBLY
If you go fishing, don’t leave nets or lines in the water. Animals can become entangled in the trash.
11. PEST FRIENDS
Ask your parents to buy food and clothes that are made without pesticides— chemicals sprayed on crops to kill bad bugs. The problem? Pesticides also can kill critters like bees that are eco-friendly.
12. STUFFED WITH STUFF
Items shipped to your home often come wrapped in plastic packaging; toys bought at the store are covered in it. Think about what can be bought secondhand, what can be shared, and what doesn’t need to be purchased at all.
13. STRAW SENSE
Experts estimate that Americans use about 500 million plastic straws a day, and they’re one of the top 10 trash items found during ocean cleanups. If you must use a straw, find a reusable metal straw or a paper version. Learn how to make your own. If you go fishing, don’t leave nets or lines in the water. Animals can become entangled in the trash.
Photo credits: Nokuro, Shutterstock (2); Stephan Bonk, Shutterstock (5); Ariel Skelly, Getty Images (6); Kerdkanno, Shutterstock (7): Shawn Jackson, Dreamstime (10): Kanittha Boon, Shutterstock (13)