How to save the oceans during your beach holiday

Every minute, the equivalent of a truck load of waste is dumped into the ocean. Consequently, there could be more plastics than fish in the sea by 2050, which would have irreversible consequences on the marine ecosystem, as marine creatures mistake plastics for food and end up dying from eating our waste.

What can we do to prevent all those friendly fishes from dying because of our waste? If you love going to the beach as much as we do, but would like to save the planet at the same time, we are here to help! In today’s post, we give you some tips on how to be eco-friendly at the beach.

Watch your sunscreen

While we all agree that sunscreen is much needed to protect your skin from the hot summer sun, they are not harmless to the environment. Some of them contain chemicals, such as oxybenzone, to filter ultraviolet rays, which have been found to be toxic for corals and fish.

Be aware of microplastics as well, which are tiny fragments of plastics used in cosmetics as bulking agents and can sometimes be found in some sunscreens. The UK has recently implemented a ban on microplastics to prevent them from entering our seas and oceans, however it unfortunately only applies to a limited range of products, which doesn’t include sun lotions.

With an estimated 14 000 tonnes of sunscreen entering our oceans every year, it is vital to make sure that we use ocean friendly products. If you are unsure which sun lotion you should go for, blogger Wendy from the green blog Moral Fibres, has tried some of them and shares her thoughts!

Keep those plastics away from the beach

Most common waste items found on beaches include cigarette butts, plastic bottles, disposable cutlery, straws, food wrappers…Food and drink packaging, are a huge part of the ocean plastics issue and you can easily avoid them.

To enjoy your day at the beach without starving yourself, bring a reusable zero-waste kit: a bottle that you can refill, cutlery, a cotton tote bag and even a reusable straw for that fancy cocktail you might need to refresh yourself. Avoid snacks wrapped in plastics and be careful of the lovely marine breeze which can blow away light and small waste items such as flexible plastics or cigarette butts. As we explained in a previous post, cigarette filters are made of plastic, so they are not biodegradable!


Finally, apply a no trace policy and don’t leave anything behind you! If you generate waste, make sure you take it with you and put it in the correct recycling bin.

Clean the beach

If you have a bit of spare time during your holiday – which we are sure you will have! – you can take part in a beach clean-up. Check out local NGOs which are often looking for volunteers to help pick up trash on the sand. If you are in the UK, take a look at the Surfers Against Sewage website, where you will find nearby beach clean ups and tips on how to organise your own. Surfers Against Sewage is an NGO founded in Cornwall, which is doing a great job in raising awareness and tackling ocean pollution.

If you can’t find anything nearby, you can simply do your own mini beach clean-up around your towel. Why not ask your kids, friends, family members or beach neighbour’s to participate as well? This can also be a great opportunity to raise awareness when people ask why you are walking around with all that plastic waste.

Give beach plastics a second life

At TerraCycle, we give beach plastics a second life! We have worked with our partners Suez and Procter & Gamble, to create packaging made from recycled beach plastics collected around the world. So far, we have collected 160 tonnes of rigid plastics, which have been incorporated into Head & Shoulders shampoo bottles, now available in Tesco stores all around the UK.

We are not the only ones hunting for beach plastics. If you need a bathing suit, check out the UK brand Batoko and treat yourself to a trendy one made from ocean plastics. Some other brands such as Fourth Element and Riz create swimwear made from recycled plastics and support ocean charities tackling the beach plastic issue.

Save the ocean from your hotel room

You can also help save the planet in your hotel room! Remember that some cosmetics and beauty products such as scrubs or even toothpaste contain microplastics, which will end up in the sea when you wash them off. Try to bring your own natural soap and cosmetics to avoid them, which will also prevent you from using mini toiletries in hotels, generating a lot of unnecessary waste.

Finally, avoid flushing anything down the toilet, especially wipes which are made from plastic fibres and won’t biodegrade once they reach the sea. Remember that everything you flush will end up in the oceans!


We hope these tips are helpful and that you will help save our beloved seas and oceans while enjoying your beach holidays! If you have some advice that you would like to share, please let us know, we would love to hear from you!

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