Join the Sqwishful team in doing our part every day to take care of Mother Earth.
Summer is here, kicking off a season of enjoying beaches, swimming, and sailing. Time for long walks and bonfires on the beach.
What would we do without our oceans?
Trees have a pretty big reputation when it comes to providing oxygen. But phytoplankton, which are tiny, microscopic algae that live in the ocean, provide up to 50-80% of the oxygen we breathe.⁴ Put simply, without oceans, we wouldn’t be here at all.
Photo of coral by Francisco Jesús Navarro Hernández
If you’ve ever had the privilege of exploring a coral reef, you’ve likely contributed toward an estimated $36 billion, the global economic value of these fragile and stunning ecosystems.³ Coral reefs, seagrasses, and mangroves support a diversity of marine species that find shelter or reproduce in these habitats. Coral reefs, in particular, support 50% of the United State’s government-regulated fisheries and provide more than 70,000 jobs in southeast Florida, alone.² They even act as natural barriers to storms that could otherwise flood or destroy coastal communities.⁵
But, the oceans are in trouble.
Oceans and the ecosystem services they provide are under dramatic threat from things like climate change; ocean acidification; nutrient, chemical, and plastic pollution; and disease.
Increasing carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere contribute to rising temperatures and increased acidity of seawater. Rising temperatures can turn healthy ecosystems into unsuitable habitats, and a decrease in seawater pH makes it harder for organisms like corals, oysters, or mussels to build their calcium carbonate skeletons.¹ Climate change can even exacerbate storms or the spread of disease, and plastic pollution and marine debris can entangle or become ingested by marine animals.
Photo of coral bleaching by Jan Antonin Kolar
Despite all these threats that face our oceans, it isn’t all doom and gloom. By taking action every single day to take care of our planet, we can nurture our oceans, as they do us.
Want to show our oceans some love?
Check out these organizations dedicated to preserving oceanic ecosystems across the globe. Explore how you can get your feet wet (literally!):
1. Plastic Free Seas
Since 2013, Plastic Free Seas (PFS) is an organization based in Hong Kong dedicated to educating people globally about the importance of using less plastic. PFS has established relationships with over 180 schools to deliver educational workshops to thousands of students. In 2019 alone, they engaged in 72 beach cleanups.
Photo of ocean plastic by Naja Bertolt Jensen
How can you become involved with Plastic Free Seas?
According to PFS, the only way to limit plastic pollution in our oceans is to increase awareness, encourage individuals to reduce their use of plastic, and to push for government policies in support of the movement. Here are some ways you can do just that:
If you are a student or individual:
Organize your own beach cleanup (for information on how to do so, check out the advice from Plastic Free Seas here) or engage in a plastic footprint investigation to track how much plastic waste you generate in a day. Or, use this template to write a letter to your favorite company about making sustainable product switches.
If you are an educator:
Teach your students about the importance of using less plastic with PFS lesson plans. Or, schedule a guest speaker to deliver a 1-hour discussion about microplastics.
If you are a company:
PFS provides instructions on how to reduce plastic consumption in the workplace. Educational workshops are not only for schools – PFS offers “Lunch and Learn” educational workshops that you can schedule for your staff.
For more information about Plastic Free Seas and how to get involved, check out their website here.
Photo of a scuba diver shot by Bobbi Wu
2. Rescue a Reef
Rescue a Reef is an organization created by the Lirman Lab at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, dedicated to restoring Florida’s coral reefs. The organization founded its initiatives in coral research, restoration, and citizen-science.
With the help of experienced research divers and public volunteers, Rescue a Reef works to restore populations of the endangered staghorn coral and to revive coral reef biodiversity. The team grows fragments of staghorn coral in underwater nurseries, and these new coral colonies become outplanted onto the reef substrate in hopes they will reproduce and grow a healthy reef community. To date, the lab has planted over 25,000 corals in both Florida and the Caribbean.
How can you become involved with Rescue a Reef?
Snorkelers or Open Water certified SCUBA divers can sign up here to engage in a day of coral restoration alongside experienced research divers.
For more information about Rescue a Reef and how to get involved, check out their website here.
Photo of a stingray by Naushad Mohamed
3. Project Aware
Project Aware's mission is to develop campaigns at community and policy levels in support of returning to a clean, healthy ocean. Under its Healthy Ocean campaign, the organization targets overfishing, the protection of sharks and rays, and vulnerable species. Under the Clean Ocean campaign, Project Aware aims to reduce chemical and plastic pollution and marine debris.
How can you become involved with Project Aware?
If you’re a certified Open Water diver, join Dive Against Debris to record data on marine debris in the ocean, not to mention, remove it while you’re there. You can even use the fundraising tool kit to raise awareness and money for Project Aware’s conservation initiatives. Using their Action Map, you can find a conservation event near you.
Or, check Project Aware’s conservation tools for free educational resources and toolkits about the latest conservation actions. These could include things like writing to public officials in support of marine policies or taking a course to learn more about marine ecosystems.
For more information about Project Aware and how to get involved, check out their website here.
Photo of coral shot by Francesco Ungaro
Oceana seeks to preserve and/or restore marine biodiversity through government advocacy. Oceana uses a team of scientists, lawyers, advocates, and economists to advocate for scientifically backed conservation actions. They engage in oceanic expeditions to document the threats facing the oceans and to communicate this information to the public and to policymakers. They aim to reduce threats from things like overfishing, pollution, and destructive fishing practices.
How can you become involved with Oceana?
Check out Oceana’s 10 Ways You Can Help Save the Oceans, like demanding plastic-free alternatives or using non-toxic personal care products.
If you'd like to help fund Oceana’s conservation efforts, you can donate to their organization here.
How does Sqwishful play a role in keeping our oceans healthy?
Here at Sqwishful, it's our mission to empower us to make better choices, starting with the things we use every day.
We pride ourselves on our plant-powered and plastic-free products and packaging. Every product at Sqwishful is thoughtfully made to ensure that we can limit the waste entering our waterways and actively reduce our carbon footprint.
It's our hope that over time, less plastic in our kitchens and homes will lead to a positive impact on our oceans.
Join us in the movement toward a healthier, cleaner planet and a healthier you. Shop our planet-friendly home essentials here.
1. Current understanding and challenges for oceans in a higher-CO2 world by Hurd et al., 2018
3. Mapping the global value and distribution of coral reef tourism by Spalding et al., 2017
5. The value of US coral reefs for flood risk reduction by Reguero et al., 2021