You Can Be Kind to the Ocean — and Share Some Seashore Spirit — No Matter Where You Live

ocean conservation at herons key

Whether you have a home that looks out at the ocean or you live a thousand miles or more from the closest coast, there are steps you can take to protect the oceans and other waterways that are so vital to all living things.

At Heron’s Key, we recognize the importance of sustainable living and treating our environment, including the Pacific Ocean in our backyard, with care and respect. Now that warmer weather is here and more people will be heading to the shore, and with June 4–10 being National Week of the Ocean, it seems appropriate to offer suggestions for showing the oceans some love.

Inland Residents: What You Do Matters, Too

If you don’t live near an ocean, you might think your actions don’t have any effect on what happens at sea.  A study conducted by an international team of researchers, including a climate scientist at Princeton University, assessed how carbon is carried by a land-to-ocean aquatic continuum of streams, rivers, estuaries and other bodies of water. This same aquatic continuum carries chemicals, plastics and other hazardous substances from inland locations to the oceans.

Start Small, Start Now

While the problem is a large one to tackle, every little bit helps. Using one less plastic straw may save the life of a fish, sea turtle or seabird. More households using eco-friendly sponges made of biodegradable, plant-based materials instead of synthetic sponges means fewer microplastics are passing through filtering systems and into the waterways that eventually lead to the oceans.

You can make a difference by making even the smallest of changes.

3 Easy Steps Toward Healthier Oceans

As you can see, contaminated marine ecosystems aren’t just a localized problem. Pollutants are being absorbed into the food chain, harming aquatic life within their ecosystem and beyond.

Here are three simple steps you can take right away to begin contributing to cleaner, safer oceans, no matter where you live.

  1. Switch to eco-friendly detergents and other household cleaning products.
    Phosphates, found in many commercially available laundry and dishwasher detergents and other cleaning products, serve as fertilizer for algae, which in turn can lead to algal blooms. Not only do algal blooms deplete oxygen in the water, but they also prevent photosynthesis in underwater plants by blocking sunlight.
    Bleach, nitrogen and ammonia are other substances commonly used in household cleaners that can be harmful to marine ecosystems. Look for products that are phosphate-free, chlorine-free, fragrance-free or made with biobased materials.
  2. Reduce your use of single-use plastics.
    Reusable straws are available in silicone, stainless steel, bamboo, glass, grass and even pasta, and some are collapsible or come with a carrying case so they’re easy to take with you. Hand your barista a reusable mug or cup if your favorite coffee shop permits.
    Instead of buying bottled water, carry a reusable bottle with you — many are insulated, and may even have built-in filters and straws.
    Take reusable tote bags with you when you shop.
    Shop online for alternatives to plastic products, including plastic food wrap. You’ll find entire websites devoted to reducing plastic use.
  3. Conserve water.
    We’re fortunate here in the U.S. — most of us can turn on the tap and have fresh, clean water flow on demand. If we start thinking of this as a privilege, we can change our habits so that we waste less water. For instance, turning off the water while you brush your teeth or while shaving can save several gallons every day.
    Other ways to conserve water:
  • Install a water-efficient showerhead in your bathroom
  • Fill the kitchen sink with water instead of letting the faucet run when doing dishes by hand
  • Collect the water that runs from the tap while you’re waiting for it to get hot and use it for other purposes — like watering plants
  • Run the dishwasher or washing machine only when you have a full load
  • Choose water-efficient appliances and toilets when it’s time to replace the ones you have

You Don’t Have to Be at the Ocean to Enjoy the Beach!

Beaches are among the most popular vacation destinations in the world. But you don’t have to travel to Hawaii, Fiji, Australia or Bora Bora to have fun at the beach.

Here in Gig Harbor, we’re lucky to have several beaches within a short drive. There’s considerable variety among them, so it’s worth doing a little research online to see which ones might be best for your intended activity. Some are great for all kinds of fun — swimming, hiking, picnics, or taking your dog for a splash and a romp (Sunrise Beach Park or Kopachuck State Park). Several, like Narrows Park, also have access for boating and fishing.

Those are just a few of the closest beaches to Gig Harbor. Puget Sound is home to more than two dozen delightful public beaches, like Owen Beach in Tacoma.

The Best of Both Blue and Green Spaces

According to a new study conducted right here in Washington, older adults who live near green or blue spaces have a lower risk of experiencing serious psychological distress. Specifically, those living within half a mile of blue or green spaces had a 17% lower risk as compared with their peers who lived farther away.

For the study, blue spaces included bodies of water such as lakes, reservoirs, large rivers and coasts, and green spaces included public parks and community gardens.

Here on the Kitsap Peninsula, you’ll find a multitude of gorgeous places that combine blue and green spaces, offering all the psychological benefits of both. You can read more about the calming effect of these outdoor havens in this previous blog post.

If an afternoon at the beach is more than you’re looking for, you can reap the benefits these blue and green spaces offer in other ways. For instance, in or near Gig Harbor you could drink in the scenery while enjoying a:

  • Gondola ride
  • Stroll along the waterfront
  • Picnic, hike or bike ride

The Big Outdoors in Your Backyard

Our location in Gig Harbor makes Heron’s Key an ideal senior living community for older adults who want to maintain their active lifestyle.

When you feel like staying close to home, you can take advantage of the first-rate amenities available here in the community. When you’re ready to get out and go, there are countless ways to spend a couple of hours, an afternoon or the day.

If you love being near the water, if it brings you a sense of calm or invokes your sense of adventure, consider making Heron’s Key your new home. Contact us and we’ll be happy to set up a time to show you around our community set within a scenic seaside village.

Featured Image: Heron’s Key – 2017 (Attane Photography)