From Terri Bennett, Founder of DoYourPart.com:

Are you one of millions who will enjoy some of the summer sun at the beach? Did you know that some of the choices we make at home and while on vacation can actually contaminate the very same waters we can’t wait to get in? Here are my Top 7 ways to Do Your Part and become a greener beach bum.

List and captions courtesy of DoYourPart.com

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  • 1. Be Informed About Your Beach

    You might feel a little seasick once you find out how your beach ranks in terms of water quality. High amounts of bacterial pollution accounts for thousands and thousands of beach closings and advisories each year. Bacterial pollution in our beach waters is a major health concern because it can give swimmers everything from pink eye to hepatitis.  Keep track of what is going on at your vacation destination by checking out the <a href="http://www.nrdc.org/water/oceans/ttw/200beaches.asp" target="_hplink">National Resource Defense Council's updated guide</a> or the <a href="http://water.epa.gov/type/oceb/beaches/beaches_index.cfm" target="_hplink">EPA's online quality reports</a>.

  • 2. It Starts At Home

    What you let go down the drain or put on your lawn and garden can end up in the ocean. It's important to keep hazardous materials out of our water supply. It could be by keeping motor oil out of storm drains, properly disposing of our pets' waste, and making sure grease doesn't go down the sink. Also, when we use too much fertilizer on our yard, the excess is picked up by stormwater runoff and dumped right into our waterways. This nutrient overload causes algae to bloom which removes oxygen from the water.


  • 3. Stay On The Beaten Path

    Those signs at the beach warning you to stay off sand dunes are not just decoration. Sand dunes are the first line of defense against beach erosion and they naturally protect the coast from the effects of strong storms and waves. Beach grass is another natural and necessary  ingredient to stop beach erosion. However, beach grass breaks easily when walked on by beachgoers. That's why staying off sand dunes and beach grass are critical to protecting our coastlines.

  • 4. Pick A Safer Sunscreen

    Everything we put on our bodies before hitting the beach will ultimately end up in the water. That's why picking safer sunscreens is important. Your best bet is to buy ones which contain safer ingredients such as zinc and titanium. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recommends avoiding the controversial ingredient oxybenzone because it is thought to alter hormonal systems. The <a href="http://breakingnews.ewg.org/2011sunscreen/" target="_hplink">EWG has an online sunscreen guide</a> that rates hundreds of sunscreens by safety and tells you what's the best and what's the worst.

  • 5. Pack Waste-Free Lunches And Snacks

    If you want to make your trip to the beach less trashy, pack a picnic basket or bag with foods in reusable containers and water bottles. When you're done for the day, toss it all back in the basket and bring it back home. No need to worry about taking items to the trash or leaving them behind. If you must go the disposable route, find cutlery and cups made from recycled plastic. The critical thing is that all the items get disposed of properly and nothing winds up in the water.

  • 6. Go Local

    Going local during your beach trip is another way to be greener. Shopping for locally grown fruits and veggies, locally sourced seafood, and visiting local artisans will help keep money in your beach town's economy. Plus, it cuts down on the resources it would normally take to get those items to you.


  • 7. Leave Nothing But Tracks

    You want to make sure that when the sun goes down and you head back home, you've left the beach as you found it. One of those ways is by using proper restroom facilities instead of using the ocean as a bathroom. While it's not the most pleasant thing to mention, those bathroom blunders happens often! Also, make sure to gather up the toys and supplies you brought with you. If you see someone who did leave something behind, Do Your Part and get rid of it - the right way.


  • How to Make Organic Sunblock

    In this episode we teach you how to make your own high spf, water proof sunblock from organic and natural ingredients for pennies on the dollar compared to buying it off the shelf. Ingredients include- zinc oxide (sunblocking agent), coconut oil (soothes and conditions skin), bee's wax (waterproofing agent), and tea tree oil (soothes and repairs skin and smells good too). Rub on and paddle out.

About the Author:

Terri Bennett is a veteran TV meteorologist, syndicated columnist and author, and founder of DoYourPart, everyday green living ideas that are better for you and the planet. Send questions to terri@doyourpart.com and follow DoYourPart on Facebook and Twitter. Terri's new book "Do Your Part: A practical guide for everyday green living" is now available at DoYourPart.com.


© 2011 Terri Bennett Enterprises, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.