How You Can Help the Ocean

All water on Earth is connected. Even if you don’t live near the coast, water that goes down your drain or runs off from your yard can eventually make its way into the oceans.

For example, oceans that seem remote, such as the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica, are more interconnected than you may think. The Southern Ocean comes into contact with waters from the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean, and plays a critical role in global water circulation. You can help keep the oceans and other waterways healthy by reducing your family’s use of chemicals both inside and outside your house.

In the garden: Use as little fertilizer as possible. Fertilizers (including manure) add nutrients to the soil and water that can be carried downstream when it rains. Extra nutrients can cause harmful algae blooms that disrupt the ocean’s natural balance. Try to grow plants suited to your area’s natural conditions. They will grow hardily with fewer chemicals.

On the table: Look for fruits and vegetables that are grown without pesticides (and don’t spray them in your own garden). Pesticides contain toxins that can run off into the sea and harm marine life. Also look for produce grown in season and close to where you live.

In the house: Many household chores can be done with simple ingredients like vinegar, baking soda or lemon juice. Visit Consumer Reports’ Greener Choices page for suggestions on how to keep your home and the environment clean.

This tip is based on the Smithsonian Institution’s Web feature, “How You Can Help the Ocean.” Learn more about oceans and conservation at the Smithsonian’s Ocean Portal!

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