Top Tips For Sustainable Actions When Visiting a Lake, River, or Beach 

The world’s water features are truly precious resources and an endless supply of life-giving abundance, pleasure, and joy. This is never more evident than when looking at an image of the continents at night from high above. You can see the coastlines around the world lit up with human activity and habitation. Doing our best to be responsible water using members by monitoring, maintaining, and preserving these pristine spots is vital to preserving our world’s water resources. The eco-friendly tips for river, lake, and ocean interaction pretty much run the same for all destinations but you will find some outlined distinctions in each category. Let’s give as much respect back to these vibrant and beautiful natural habitats as they deserve!


Ways To Be Eco-Friendly At The Beach

  • Litter– leaving garbage at the beach is one of the most unfriendly eco things you can do. This trash can be carried out for thousands of miles, and end up contaminating other beaches across the world. Possibly even worse, litter can also harm and often kill ocean animals as they mistake trash for food or get caught up in plastic garbage or fishing lines. So take all your trash and any other that you find during your visit.
  • No Plastic Bottles– plastic is ever only recyclable two times then it becomes trash forever. Not only should you never bring plastic bottles to the beach or on your ocean visit, but it’s also a great idea to eliminate them from your routine completely. It’s much easier to have refillable water containers. If you bring any beverages held together by plastic rings, it’s necessary to cut them apart and dispose of them in the trash as they can entangle marine life even after finding their way into the garbage that might end up in the ocean.
  • No Plastic Bags– as an eco-friendly warrior, you probably don’t use plastic bags but have many stylish reusable totes. Pack your beach food in reusable containers and totes. Plastic bags can fly away easily and end up in the ocean. Sea turtles might eat them because they look like their food (jellyfish). 
  • Sunscreen– the chemicals in most sun protection products hurt reefs. Coral reefs are essential ecosystems that protect and nourish colonies of fish and other animals. Coral reefs are home to a whopping 25% of all marine life (even though they only take up about 1% of the ocean). For more on coral reefs, this NOAA site will explain it all. Looking for the “reef friendly” or “reef safe” symbol on your sunscreen product.  For a more detailed guide with lots of visuals and tips for picking reef safe sunscreen, check out this site here.
  • No Animal Feeding– feeding human food to birds or fish or any other animal you see at the beach is not good for them. It’s better that they find their own food and keep the food web balanced.
  • Smooth Out Sand Creations– after a day’s worth of fun building sand castles and digging holes to play in, it is really important to bring your beach area back to homeostasis. Meaning, please fill in any holes in the sand and flatten any sand castles. This helps mother sea turtles and babies from getting stuck. As the mothers make their way onto the beach to lay eggs, and as the hatchlings make the journey down to the water’s edge, any obstacles like sand castles or holes can interfere.
Shared at Living Purposely.


Sustainable and Responsible Actions on Rivers- if you are visiting a river shore or floating down one for the afternoon here are many tips for eco-friendly water-related actions that can also apply to any body of water.

  • No Glass– never bring glass bottles or such out onto the river with you. Best to have your beverages in reusable steel or metal bottles.
  • No Styrofoam– when this material is exposed to water, over time it starts to come apart releasing little pieces of styrofoam into the water. Narty stuff that never degrades!
  • Pack All Trash Out– TIP: place a trash receptacle in your cooler; makes it handy to keep used items all in one place for recycling when you leave.
  • Pick Up Trash– make the extra effort and pick up any pieces of trash you see and take them back with your recycling load.


  • Be Mindful of Wildlife– respecting the rivers and maintaining an eco-friendly mindset means staying vigilant when boating amid wildlife. Obey all speed zones to protect the native habitat. Fish only in approved areas and never hunt endangered species.
  • Manage Fuel & Other Solvents– proper boat maintenance keeps chemicals such as oil, battery acid, coolant, or fuel from leaking into the river. If you do spill oil or fuel in the water, soak it up with an absorbent pad and immediately have your boat repaired to prevent it from further polluting.
  • Reduce Chemical Use– avoid using chlorine, phosphates, and ammonia when it comes time to clean your boat. Gentle cleaners like vinegar, borax, and baking soda are best. A good rinse after every boat trip will help to reduce the amount of cleaning you’ll have to do; another good eco-friendly habit to begin.


Eco-Friendly and Responsible Actions on Lakes

  • Eco-Friendly Fishing– Invasive fish species introduced by fishermen are, unfortunately, widely prevalent nowadays. To practice eco-friendly fishing  methods on lakes, it is best to use native bait. Practice lead-free fishing, and avoid making the wildlife sick. Lakeside birds are particularly vulnerable.
  • Green Boating Options– choosing human-powered boating options for your lake time journeys includes using a canoe, kayak, sailboat, or stand-up paddleboard. If you are using a motorboat, be mindful of your wake which stops shore erosion, and sediment stirring, and protects shoreline vegetation.
  • Minimize Runoff– if you live on a lake shore, rainfall runoff can be a big pollution source to rivers. To minimize any damage coming from your home, number one, don’t use any fertilizer on the lawn areas. Imperfect grass is better than chemical runoff. Next, use rain barrels to capture roof runoff and use it on your lawn or in your gardens. This slows down soil erosion, and the suspended particles will get deposited in the garden, instead of in the lake. 
  • Protect Shoreline Vegetation– allow any existing vegetation along the shoreline to remain in place (verus replacing with a lawn). These shrubs and trees keep the shallow waters cooler, preventing algal blooms and protecting fish habitat. Roots also hold onto the shoreline soil, preventing erosion. A thick vegetation strip along the shore also acts as a buffer, absorbing pollutants and sediment flowing towards the lake.
  • Soap Is A No-No– even if the label says ‘biodegradable, it’s still terrible for the environment. Surfactants in soaps are harmful to lake life, particularly tiny invertebrates. It also triggers algal growth. “According to the EPA, an ounce of biodegradable soap needs to be diluted in 20,000 ounces of water to be safe for fish.” A better option, fill a bucket with water and head a dozen yards away from the shore for your rinse down. Dig a hole 6 to 9 inches deep for disposing of soapy water. Even better, jump in a lake and give yourself a good rubdown minus any soap. 
  • Speak Up– be a voice for conservation and promote environmentally sound solutions for action and protection of the lakes in your area. A great source of support is local state universities that often have collaborative services. Check out your regional land trust too; see if they can help you protect pieces of shoreline property that are key to the health of a lake.

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