Valentine’s Day is a day all about showing your love and appreciation. At the NOAA Marine Debris Program, there’s nothing that we are more grateful for than the tremendous resources our ocean and Great Lakes have to offer. From giving us good food, a place to play, and the oxygen we breathe, these spectacular environments make the perfect Valentine every year.
With all these amazing things we get, why not strive to give a little back? This Valentine’s Day, you too can give your heart to the ocean and Great Lakes AND reduce marine debris with these tips:
CLEAN UP. This year, say “be mine” to the ocean and Great Lakes by taking care of the place you live and love! Whether you are on the shore, or far from the water, we can all do our part to help stop marine debris. You can start by joining a cleanup, or picking up litter you see in your local park, on your favorite shoreline, or just on your street.
WASTE FREE. Think the ocean and Great Lakes look pretty good? Keep them clean and free from unsightly trash and litter by reducing the amount of waste you produce. Did you know food packaging is one of the most common types of debris found during cleanups? This Valentine’s Day, reduce your food packaging waste by grabbing that morning coffee in a reusable mug, or bringing your own reusable utensils to lunch!
TRACK IT. If you go to the beach frequently, or just want to help document debris in your community, use the Marine Debris Tracker App and contribute to a global dataset using your phone. Knowing more about the different types of debris found on a beach, or even on your street, is the first step towards preventing it!
CELEBRATE. Balloons are often used during special occasions as decorations and gifts, and are sometimes intentionally released into the air. Unfortunately, once they go up, they must also come down! Balloons that are released into the air don’t just go away, they can get snagged on tree branches or electrical wires, deflate and make their way back down, or rise until they pop and fall back to Earth, where they can create a lot of problems. Add some flare to your Valentine’s celebrations by using alternative decorations to balloons, such as fabric bunting, lights, paper streamers, plants, or reusable ornaments!
FOREVER. Trash travels. It can be moved by wind, rain, and storms, and can travel from waterways into the ocean. Some marine debris, like plastics, can fragment into smaller and smaller pieces in the ocean, making it easy for wildlife to ingest. These small pieces, called microplastics, can become so tiny they can’t even be seen with the human eye, and may never fully go away. So, no matter where you are, always dispose of your trash responsibly!
No matter how you choose to show the ocean some love, every little bit helps. Let’s work together to love our ocean today, and every day, and give it the appreciation it deserves!