It’s hard to imagine the extent to which our weekly shop affects the environment, but the collective impact of our food-buying habits is clear to see in the seas. From the Great Pacific garbage patch to dead zones caused by fertiliser and pesticide runoff, the oceans suffer the impact of our weekly food-shopping – and in numerous ways.
Plastic is one of the biggest culprits, affecting over 267 marine species worldwide. Whether it’s packaging or shopping bags, plastic makes up 80% of marine debris, despite much of it being recyclable.
If the 400,000 animals that are estimated to perish annually due to plastic pollution isn’t shocking enough, let’s consider that microscopic particles of long-lasting plastics end up in the stomachs of marine creatures – including fish – and we then ingest these particles when eating our favourite seafood. So, it turns out that making your weekly trip to the supermarket more ocean-friendly will also benefit you in the long run.
But plastic isn’t the only guilty party. Waste from agriculture often ends up in the ocean too, with pesticides and fertilisers being carried to the open waters as a result of runoff, along with waste from animal farming. As a result of these chemicals, dead zones are created in the marine environment where the oxygen levels in the water are too low to sustain life.
If you’re looking to make your next food-shop more ocean-friendly, these are some of the changes you can make to your current shopping habits:
Invest in Reusable Shopping Bags
Not only are reusable shopping bags more ocean-friendly than their plastic counterparts, but they’re also a cost-effective alternative now that supermarkets have to charge for regular carrier bags.
Be Mindful of Excessive Packaging
Going completely packaging-free is a difficult feat to master, but keeping an eye out for excessive packaging is a manageable alternative. Instead of buying pre-cut or pre-packaged fruits and veg, buy them loose.
Buy MSC-Certified Fish
Keeping up-to-date with which fish are ocean-friendly to consume has never been easier thanks to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). The MSC is an independent non-profit organisation that sets a standard for sustainable fishing, meaning that any seafood you buy with an MSC label will be ocean-friendly.
Ditch Plastic Bottles
Plastic bottles have a sizable carbon footprint, and despite being recyclable, most of them end up in landfills. Ditch the plastic in favour of a reusable glass bottle, and stop them from contributing to ocean waste. Switching to tap water will also be good for you, because tap water undergoes far more rigorous testing than most bottled water.
This one is a no-brainer. In cases where you can’t avoid buying packaging (which is the case with most dry goods), make sure that you dispose of it correctly. Plastic, paper, and glass are now all easy to recycle, and the little effort it takes to sort your waste has a big impact.
Avoid Certain Supplements
The popularity of fish as a food source is the main reason for over fishing, but it’s not the only culprit. The popularity of fish oils as a dietary supplement also contributes to over fishing, and this causes damage to marine ecosystems in the process. Instead of taking fish oils as a supplement, try one of the vegetarian alternatives – like flax-seed or walnut – for the same benefits.
We’ve already mentioned the impact that farming has on the ocean, and going organic is one change you can make that will benefit yourself and the environment. This will ensure that the produce you buy is free from certain fertilisers and pesticides.
As part of our conservation efforts, we’re mindful of our environmental impact and we make sure that all of our creatures are displayed in environments that are as close to their natural conditions as possible. If you want to learn more about being ocean-friendly, or you’d like to see our conservation in action, book your tickets online and save!