By Lyla Forman, Summer Intern

The Surfrider Foundation was created by a group of individuals who were passionate about their combined mission of enjoying and protecting the ocean. As the beautiful summer on Long Island continues,  there are many ways we can give back to the ocean and the enjoyment it provides through practicing sustainability at the beach. While there is a broad range of steps that can be taken, the following actions can have a large impact.

  1. Use Reef-Friendly Sunscreen 

Sunscreens can be harmful to marine life, with many of its ingredients being toxic to fish and coral, contributing to coral bleaching. When looking for a reef-friendly sunscreen, always check the ingredients. Avoid sunscreens with the chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate and opt for mineral-based sunscreens. Almost 14,000 tons of sunscreen ends up in the ocean every year, so make sure you are choosing responsibly! Find more tips here.

Some options for mineral-based sunscreen.
  1. Bring a trash bag or bucket

By bringing your own trash bag,  you can ensure that you leave the beach as pristine as you found it. Additionally, bringing a trash bag allows you to clean up litter you encounter on the beach throughout your day. While it may not be yours to pick up, keeping our beaches clean is vital and every bit counts. Beach cleanups don’t always need to be an organized event, and picking up bits of trash whenever you’re at the beach can go a long way. 

  1. Say no to single-use plastic 

Given the detrimental impact plastic waste is having on our oceans, reducing your plastic use on a beach day is vital to preventing ocean litter.  One way to ensure you are prepared for a plastic-free beach day is to bring a refillable water bottle, utensils, and snacks in reusable containers. Beach concession stands often serve their food and beverages with single-use packaging, and whatever trash doesn’t end up in the bins is guaranteed to go straight into the ocean. Bringing your own food, beverages, and containers from home is an important action we can all take to avoid relying on disposables when we are on the go. 

A trip to the beach does not have to include disposables.

4. Choose sustainable swimwear and beach accessories

In addition to what you bring to the beach, what you wear to the beach can be impactful in reducing your impact on the ocean. Many brands are doing their part by trading in synthetic fiber for natural materials or post-consumer waste to create fabrics, preventing plastic microfibers from entering the environment.. Supporting these brands both reduces your impact on an individual level and leverages brands with sustainable missions. Check out our Surfrider beach accessories!

5. Appreciate your surroundings 

Enhance your trip to the beach by learning about the surrounding wildlife. Going to the beach is an opportunity to relax and disconnect, and also to engage with nature. Long Island boasts incredible wildlife, and it is important to remember that you are sharing the beach with animals, plants, and more. A long glance at the horizon and you might catch a whale breaching, or a walk on the shore might lead to an active piping plover nesting ground beaming with life.  

A whale seen by our volunteers while setting up for a cleanup at Main Beach, East Hampton.