These simple actions may surprise you—and make a real difference.
Lauren Paige Kennedy
1 of 10Courtesy of 5 Gyres Institute
Skip the Lid on Your Coffee
Nearly all to-go coffee lids are made from polystyrene, which is almost never recycled, according to Anna Cummins, co-founder of The 5 Gyres Institute. 5 Gyres helped push for the 2015 U.S. ban of plastic microbeads in skincare and cosmetics products and now promotes a #foamfree campaign to educate the public about takeout coffee lids. Next time you order a latté, go topless, or better yet, bring your own to-go mug or cup.
2 of 10Photo by Laurey Glenn
Don't Use Powdered Detergents
Heal the Ocean, a nonprofit committed to ending ocean pollution, recommends using liquid detergents instead of powdered, ditching soft-water systems, and buying nonchemical cleaning products. Because wastewater plants are vital environmental tools, it's important not to add toxins to the waste stream that the plants can't process.
Some 240,000 single-use plastic bags are used every 10 seconds worldwide, contributing to 280 million tons of plastic waste annually. Bring your own reusable totes to the grocery store. Yes, every single time.
5 of 10Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images
Don’t Shell Out
Every oyster shell that ends up in a landfill could be returned to local waters to help reef-restoration efforts, rebuild marine habitats, and make coasts more resilient. Urge local restaurants and governments to collect and recycle oyster shells, and follow groups like the Billion Oyster Project and the Oyster Recovery Partnership.
6 of 10Courtesy of AshaDeVos.com/Steve De Neef
Talk About the Ocean
Maybe the easiest way to contribute to a healthier ocean? Just by talking about it. Marine biologist Asha De Vos, who studies whales, says she hopes "to get everyone on the planet to talk about the ocean at least once a day. That's when we're going to see change."
7 of 10John S. Lander/Getty Images
First Refuse and Reduce; Then Reuse
Bahamas Plastic Movement founder Kristal Ambrose runs a program called "Upcycled," which asks students to think creatively about plastic waste. Apply the logic in your own world: Turn an already purchased plastic bottle into an edible herb garden, and repurpose everyday plastics into jewelry or decorative storage.
8 of 10Wolfgang Kaehler/Getty Images
Adopt sustainability chef Ed Kenney's mantra: "Local first, organic whenever possible, with aloha always." Protect our waters, support regional farmers, and buy seafood from sustainable fisheries.