What You Can Do to Save the Oceans

If you recently read about The Most Life-Threatening Issues Facing ASEAN’s Oceans, you know that the marine and coastal issues in the region are serious and growing. Many of those problems listed are also affecting our coasts and oceans on the other side of the globe.

Raise your hand if you’re willing to do something in your daily life to protect our oceans.

Is it possible for one person to resolve an issue as colossal as the ocean?

Yes, it is! Just keep these following tips in mind.

Energy consumption

The best gift we can give our children is a low carbon footprint. Photo Credit: Chris Takmok

What is a carbon footprint? Good question! Each day, through our daily actions and diet, we contribute to the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change. Click here to get an estimate of your carbon footprint today. For those in the United States, you may also use this site here.

Offsetting your carbon dioxide emission is a practical and immediate way to take action against the effects of climate change, and of course, its effect on our oceans. Here are several easy ways:

1) Look into alternatives to driving.

If it’s a nice day, take the bicycle or walk to work. Your car could be contributing an average of 4.7 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions a year. Carpooling and public transportation also help reduce CO2 emissions.

And if you must have a car, then try driving a low carbon vehicle. Hybrid or electric cars are sustainable options. The latter may emit no CO2 emissions if they’re charged with clean electricity.

An electric car gets juiced up. Photo Credit: Frank Hebbert

2) Be energy efficient at home.

Here’s a fun slogan that’ll help you conserve energy at home: If it’s not in use, turn off the juice! Think efficient and think conservation. Do some research before purchasing appliances and make sure that they have superior efficiency.

While at home, turn off or unplug appliances that are not in use. This is especially a common habit to overcome when it pertains to lighting. If outside is bright, then turn off the light. Take it a step further and replace your incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent or LED ones, so when you do turn on the light, it’s environmentally conscious.

Unplug! Photo Credit: Lori Semprevio

3) Eat less beef, and more locally-produced and organic food.

Food produces about eight tons of emissions per household. Meat and dairy products create the highest carbon footprint. One study shows that meat lovers produce about 3.3 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. By cutting down on red meat such as beef and lamb, you can reduce your foodprint by a quarter.

You can also reduce your carbon footprint by changing your food preparation. Base your meals on natural products such as vegetables, fruits, whole-grains, and beans with little meat and fish.

4) Consider eating organic food only.

Crops that are grown organically have a much lower impact on the environment than conventional methods. The same goes for animals that are raised organically.

When life gives you lemons, make sure they’re organic. Photo Credit: Dave Crosby

5) Support and use clean energy sources.

If you’re one to consume a lot of energy, make sure that it mainly comes from clean, renewable energy sources such as windsolargeothermalhydroelectric, and biomass. Wind, solar, and hydroelectric systems generate electricity without causing air pollution, offering significant public health benefits.



By 2025, there could be 155 tons of plastic in the ocean. Plastic waste has become a pandemic both on land and in our oceans. This is a global dilemma, but we can be a part of the solution.

1) Invest in a reusable bag for shopping and other occasions.

Plastic bags are potentially the most hazardous things in our lives. They contribute to the majority of pollutants on land and in the ocean. Annually, over 1 trillion plastic bags are used worldwide. About 2 million plastic bags are used every minute around the world.

How can you be part of the solution? You can start by participating in reusable bag campaigns such as this one here.

The ASEAN Reusable Bag Campaign is a product of the YSEALI initiative.

2) No more bottled water, instead get a reusable water canteen.

Plastic bottles are among the top five items polluting marine and coastal environments. The average American will use about 167 disposable water bottles but only recycle 38, creating billions of wasted water bottles each year.

Sad water bottle wishes it was recycled. Photo Credit: Kate Ter Haar

By investing in a reusable water bottle, you can help reduce the million tons of discarded water bottles each year. You will also save a few hundred dollars from all the bottled water you’re not purchasing every year. Invest in a reusable water bottle—they are eco-friendly and cheap!


If it’s environmental impact looks fishy, get your seafood elsewhere.

Including fish in your diet is a smart idea. It’s filled with protein and great health benefits. But, seafood can also be bad for you and harmful to the environment. Certain seafood can be contaminated with large amounts of mercury and may cause ill health effects.

Many types of seafood are also overfished or caught in methods that are unsustainable to our oceans and marine life. So how do we make safe, sustainable seafood choices?

1) Eat seafood that is lower down on the food chain.

Smaller fish will likely contain the lowest levels of mercury, so it’s important to know the various types of seafood and their level of mercury.

Seafood such as squid, crab, oyster, and sardines are great choices to include in your diet—they are plentiful and good for your health.

2) Understand the methods that are used to catch the fish you eat.

People worldwide are fishing illegally, without reporting, and without regulation. Much illegal fishing leads to massive overfishing, causing over 30 percent of the world’s fish stocks to be overfished.

There are NOT many other fish in the sea. Photo Credit: Toussaint Ruggeri

Certain methods, such as the hook and line, have low-impact on fishing as it does minimal damage to the surrounding area. Other methods, such as long lines and bottom trawlers, kill significant nearby marine life and are not sustainable to the ocean and its inhabitants.

Educate yourself and others about oceans and marine life.

Before we can start solving the problems of our oceans, we must understand what is happening. Our oceans cover over 70 percent of our planet Earth. Despite an increasing rate of species discovery, as much as 95 percent of the world’s oceans remain unexplored.

Take a few minutes and do some research on the bodies of water closest to you. Understand what plant and wildlife inhabit your marine and coastal region. What function do they represent in the ecosystem? What role do they play in both your life and the oceans? Think about your daily actions and how that may have an impact on your ocean and its marine life.

As an inhabitant of this planet, we have an obligation to keep it clean, healthy and sustainable, which includes our vast and deep oceans. Let’s be conscious of our daily actions and move to be a part of the solution rather than the problem.

Want to meet some young ASEAN leaders that are doing something about our oceans? Follow the YSEALI Generation: Oceans workshop March 16-20 at #YSEALIoceans and add us on Snapchat.