We are all painfully aware of what is happening to our planet and how we must, as a species, all make an active effort to do something about it. Whether it is not using a straw, or lessening our carbon footprint. Every body can make a difference. And those that deny, basically just need a good slap around the head. Please do allow myself to personally do that : ) I feel it would be satisfying.
Many of the go to phrases around today include “eco” this and “sustainable” that. But what do they actually mean. If something is sustainable it is not making a negative impact or leaving damage. As a diver, exploring the environment it is important that we do that. Many operators claim they do, but really are they? And as a diver there are certain things that you can ensure that you do. So, here is a list of things, that as diver, you can do to ensure you are diving sustainably and making less of an impact. Nobody is perfect but we can try!
Yes, this is obvious, and so important it needs to be repeated. As a diver you do not want to be damaging the reef and ocean life. So, sort out your gear. Attach everything in streamlined efficient manner and keep your hands to yourself. Not only does it benefit the underwater world but you as a diver as well. If you are streamlined you are diving more efficiently. That is less effort and less air consumption so longer time underwater. We like that!
2.Weight yourself properly
This goes hand in hand with streamlining. By being weighted properly you are not going to making an impact on the bottom. You will be moving through the water like a true fish and using less air. You won’t be spending half of your dive fiddling with your BCD trying to balance yourself but diving peacefully and at one with the wildlife around you.
3.Use Reef safe sunscreen
Scuba diving in tropical locations you can’t help but to protect yourself. But, are you doing it sustainably? What you place on your skin will leech into the water around you and can have a negative effect on the local life. In some places, for example, Hawaii, all other types of sunscreen are banned already. As a scuba diver you can make a conscious decision to buy sustainably and only buy those sunscreens that are safe for the ocean. These can include Tropical Seas and Stream to sea to name a few. If you can find any that have sustainable packaging even better. We have some local brands here in Costa Rica that tick both criteria so that is who we are stocking now!
4.One dive, one piece of debris
Something easy to do. Pick up a piece of trash every time you dive. That is reducing your impact for sure. I don’t think I need to elaborate as that is pretty self explanatory.
5.Don’t feed local reef life
Do not under any circumstances feed the local wildlife. Fish do not have a natural diet of bread, squeezy cheese, or hot dogs, or any of the other crap that I have seen people take underwater. You are harming them and altering their natural behavior. This is not sustainable diving. You should also actively avoid diving with or going on a tour with any company that partakes in this type of activity.
6.Make conscious choices as a consumer
When you are going a dive trip, you can make conscious choices as a consumer. This means not buying souvenirs that have an impact on the ocean or environment. I am talking shells for example here or those pretty coral necklaces that you see people with. You can also make sure you take your reusable water bottle, try not to buy snacks wrapped in ten tonnes of plastic not use plastic bags.
As an avid scuba diver you might already be looking at the equipment you buy. There are some fantastic brands out there, for example waterlust and fourth element who use recycled materials in their clothing, but some of the other equipment items it is more difficult to buy sustainable. I am actively looking at companies right now to see what some companies are doing. Scuba pro for example has moved away from plastic packaging and Aqualung is using solar panels on their factory as well as using water based glues on their wetsuits and using a more environmentally friendly neoprene. It would be nice to see all brands move away from plastic packaging in the future though.
7.Research your dive operator
Finally, whilst many operators announce they are eco friendly, apart from using a few recycle bins, what are they actually doing? Ask them this, and ask them how their instructors are contributing as well. They like to wave the banner but really don’t make too much of an effort. Saying that many do, and whilst we all acknowledge that nobody is perfect , we are trying our best and looking forward to ways that we can do better.