By Lucinda Johnston, Contributing Writer
Global challenges look overwhelming. Problems like climate change, population growth, ocean pollution and dozens of others are far too complicated for any one of us to comprehend, let alone solve. Or are they?
While the issues may be global, some of them are more significant in local settings. Ocean pollution might not be such a concern to people in Nevada, but for us in Florida, it’s a critical issue. It quite literally affects our daily lives and livelihood. A damaged Gulf of Mexico won’t continue to sustain our fishing industry — the largest in the U.S. — or draw the millions of tourists who patronize our businesses.
Because Florida is surrounded on three sides by water, protecting our oceans becomes more personal and more urgent. Fortunately, there are things we can all do to help protect the Gulf.
Stop nutrient runoff: Honor the fertilizer bans during the rainy season. While fertilizer makes your grass grow, it makes other things grow, too — like algae and other invasive plants. And when you live just a few feet above sea level, whatever you put on your lawn eventually ends up in the Gulf, much to the delight of the algae and weeds that clog our canals, foul our beaches and kill our marine life.
Avoid plastic: Plastic is convenient, but it lasts practically forever. When it gets into the water, sea turtles and other creatures ingest it with deadly results. Plastic bags look way too much like jellyfish for sea turtles to resist. Many of the dead and injured animals that wash up on our shores have undigested plastic clogging their vital organs or choking the life out of them. One seemingly innocent source of plastic pollution is balloon releases. When you are surrounded by water, some of them are certain to end up there.
Plant Florida-friendly: Invasive species may be beautiful, but they escape and crowd out native plants such as the mangroves, which are important to fish and wildlife reproduction.
Buy Local: Locally grown, environmentally friendly food isn’t transported vast distances using fossil fuels. The same is true for locally made products. And when you shop local, you are supporting people who live in and care about your community. That’s not usually as true for corporations whose headquarters are thousands of miles away in a different environment.
Lucinda Johnston is executive director of Chart 411, a 501C3 nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the Gulf and the Gulf way of life. To learn more, visit Chart411.com.
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