5 Ways to Stop Hurting the Coral Reefs

Coral Reefs are an undeniably beautiful ecosystem. Their colourful appearance, and unique textures are almost otherworldly. Did you know, that a quarter of all marine life lives on coral reefs? That’s a whole lot of life!

It is our duty to not only protect the land of the earth, but the water as well. Litter, pollution, overfishing, and climate change are all impacting the future health of reefs as we speak. Not only is this detrimental to thousands of species, it’s important to know that the health of our oceanic ecosystem affects humans too.

Reefs provide protection against the flooding and erosion of coastlines from storms. If they die off, coastlines and even entire islands are at risk of crumbling into the sea. Coral reefs also contain resources that are imperative for the livelihood of many communities around the world. Over half a billion people depend on reefs for food, income, and protection.

So what can you do to help? Today I’m sharing 5 practical ways to stop hurting the coral reefs. To do this you should:

  1. Recycle properly

  2. Greenify your lawn care

  3. Choose reef-friendly sunscreen

  4. Conserve water

  5. Get educated and share what you’ve learned

Now let me get into a bit more detail with each of these call to actions and how they impact the health of the coral reefs.

Recycle properly

Coral reefs can suffer damage from marine debris. Don't forget to recycle if possible at home and on the go (especially plastic) and to follow the three R's (reduce, reuse, and recycle). You should properly dispose of trash in bins, so that trash isn't blown or washed into the air and waterways. 

While at the beach, be sure not to leave trash behind. The best way to help is to go the extra mile and clean up trash in your community to boost the cleanliness of your rivers and streams. Find out when your local environmental organizations conduct annual trash clean-ups and keep an eye out for Coastal Cleanup initiatives.

Learning about the recycling symbols and keeping in touch with what your local recycling centers recycle and what they do not is also a good start.

Greenify your lawn care

You may live hundreds or even thousands of miles from a coral reef, but the chemicals you use on your lawn will eventually end up in the water system. The specific ingredient of concern is nitrogen and phosphorus. Consider finding green or natural alternatives for fertilizer and pesticides that will not harm waterways and marine life. Overall, it is a good environmental practice to try to be mindful of the number of chemicals you are using in and around your home environment.

If you want to learn about eco-friendly gardening I recommend reading John’s Walker book “How to Create an Eco Garden: The Practical Guide to Sustainable and Greener Gardening”

Choose to buy reef friendly sunscreen

Each year, there is an estimated 6,000 tons of sunscreen washing into coral reefs around the world. Many sunscreens contain the chemicals such as oxybenzone, octinoxate, octocrylene, homosalate, and octisalate, that are harmful to coral reefs. Don’t rely strictly on the term ‘reef safe’ as it has been proven to be used as a greenwashing tactic when a formula is absent of single ingredients from that list. A great way to ensure reef safety is to check for a the absence of these who ingredients when shopping for sunscreen next.

Conserve water

To put it simply, the less water you use, the less pollution our oceans will suffer from runoff and wastewater. Our water supply should be carefully utilized, and we should be responsible for our use of it. Due to the easy access here with running water, it can become really easy to take it for granted.

Every living being on the planet depends on water for its survival, so we need to protect it from pollution and maintain a pure supply. It is crucial to maintain a safe and pure water supply for marine life and the future generations to come.

Did you know that only about 0.3 percent can be used by humans?

One of the best ways to water your garden or laws is by collecting rain water in a rain barrel.

Get educated and share what you’ve learned

There are so many wonderful, educational resources available to learn more about marine life and humans’ impact on its health. Help protect coral reefs by sharing information with your family and friends, as well as contacting your local representatives to find out what your state is doing. Leading by example in your choices and spreading knowledge can both be powerful tools for change. I’ve put together a Pinterest board filled with links to articles and educational resources to get you started.

On this blog, you can find a wide range of articles covering topics related to the zero-waste lifestyle, sustainable living and climate change. Learning more about these topics will help you have a better understanding of the importance of your actions.

Hey, Claudia here

I am a senior graphic designer, a dog mom, an advocate for a zero-waste lifestyle, climate change, and sustainability. My articles are based on personal experience and well researched to give you the best source of information for all things zero-waste.


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