Creating Eco Heroes at Home
- “Does a whale have a belly button?”
- “Do ants yawn?”
- “Where does all of the trash go when it leaves our house?”
Are these curious questions similar to those your little ones ask you? Or maybe YOU are the one who is interested in discovering more about the world around you and how you can play a more critical role in keeping our planet cleaner and greener. Providing a solid foundation to become an eco hero can feel overwhelming and daunting if you aren’t sure where to begin. Whether you already consider yourself an eco hero or don’t know where to start, we are here to guide you wherever you are. Our helpful tips and suggestions for eco tours are perfect for sharing with friends and family. Keep reading below to get started with our valuable suggestions. By the time you reach the end, you’ll be on your way to being a local eco hero!
The easiest and most non-obtrusive way to support the environment is simple:
Every dollar makes a difference, and any monetary amount helps organizations thrive. Many organizations dedicated to fighting the eco fight to keep our earth clean are non-profit and not-for-profit. Consider donating to organizations that inspire you or support animals, objectives, and causes that resonate with you. Share about how your donations help protect our planet with your family and your little ones at home. Engaging family members will allow them to become eco heroes too.
Going on an eco tour is another great way to connect with causes you care about.
Organizations like Capt. Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari are the perfect options for you. From our adventure safari aboard our fearless zodiacs to our one-of-a-kind underwater viewing pods aboard our flagship vessel Manute’a, all of our dolphin and whale watching safari tours focus on the animals and the world in which they live. Our commitment and passion for education are one element that sets our eco tours apart from others (besides the brownies). Our passion is to connect our passengers to the sea and the world that lives within it. Everyone on staff at Capt. Dave’s Dolphin Safari is an eco hero on and off the water. We love questions, so ask us what you can do to get involved when you are on your next eco tour!
If you cannot give a monetary donation or take an eco tour, start looking for inspiration by reading. Let someone else’s eco hero story inspire and empower you to take action and participate in the change inside your heart.
Helpful ideas to keep you involved as an eco hero within your local community.
A simple step in determining what your city and surrounding areas are doing to take action is to get involved yourself. Here are some organizations with a wealth of information to get you started or support you in continuing your journey to becoming an eco hero and advocating for our incredible environment.
Local Chamber of Commerce
Local city-based organizations are a great place to start when you aren’t sure where to become an eco hero. Typically, cause-based activities held in your community will post event information on their event in the local event section of their website(s). Looking ahead at your city community calendar will help you align your calendar with your family’s interests and potential commitment level. If you live near a beach, bring your whole family to a local beach clean-up date to volunteer and bring the entire family! Beach clean-ups are an impactful way to show your family firsthand how the actions they take have an immediate impact on their surroundings. Being a coastal eco hero means learning to protect your beachy environment and helping protect marine wildlife. These lessons extend well beyond the day itself and make the perfect teaching opportunity for your family about coastal responsibility.
Eco-friendly organizations to support and follow on social media.
Surfrider is dedicated to protecting and enjoying the world’s oceans, waves, and beaches, for all people, through a powerful activist network. You can donate to their organization fueled with eco heroes fighting to reduce plastic waste in marine environments. This company defends our oceans from challenging our ecosystems’ vitality, protects water’s sustainability, and creates fair beach access for all to enjoy!
World Wildlife Foundation focuses primarily on saving endangered wildlife, protecting fragile ecosystems, tackling the climate crisis, and finding practical and beneficial ways for people and nature to thrive. Eco heroes are all you will find with this organization, and you can donate to their causes here.
REEF is an international marine conservation organization implementing hands-on programs involving local communities in conservation-focused activities. REEF was founded in 1990, and their eco heroes are based in Key Largo, Florida, with remote staff in Illinois, California, and Washington. Its mission is to protect biodiversity and ocean life by actively engaging and inspiring the public through citizen science, education, and partnerships with the scientific community. Joining today means you will be an eco hero with REEF too.
Stand Up to Trash is a local organization with incredible eco heroes based in Dana Point, California, the Dolphin and Whale Watching Capital of the World®. They make a daily difference in our Dana Point Harbor and surrounding local waters. Their mission is simple but essential for keeping our water clean: “Protect and conserve our ocean from plastic pollution for future generations.” Stand Up To Trash raises awareness of the adverse effects caused by plastic pollution through environmental education all over our community. One of the most extraordinary things about this fantastic organization is that one of its most vocal eco hero is also one of its youngest. Kaylani is passionate about her commitment to making a difference and inspiring kids everywhere to make a difference. Stop by their booth at the Dana Point Whale Festival.
Teach your kids about their local environment and the animals who live in it.
If you want your family to be an eco hero like you, then share the information you learn with them. We LOVE talking about animals and the ocean. Check out our blog for topics ranging from whales to dolphins and more! Capt. Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari is rooted in protecting our planet and creating opportunities for people to develop and grow strong connections with the environment.
Fun Runs With A Cause
No matter where you live, there are fun runs to support environmental change in every city across America and all over the globe. Look for these runs each April near Earth Day and throughout fairweather summer months in the USA. Grab your friends, strollers, and neighbors, and create a group of eco heroes from a community event. Most fun runs now have a virtual race-day aspect, too, so if you find a cause you want to support but cannot make race day in person, sign up for the virtual run and cruise through your neighborhood streets on race day.
Beach Clean Ups
Beachfront communities all over the world care deeply about the impact human existence has on our planet. Major tourist destinations, from coast to coast and from country to country, get their fair share of impact. Coastal cities are especially known for impacted visitors during the warm summer months. Whether you are vacationing or are an eco hero, check your city’s listing for a local beach clean-up near you. If you are planning an upcoming trip, you may be able to stop at a beach clean-up along your route. Every little bit helps. You’ll be surprised at just how much refuse you can find. Help keep our coastal beaches clean and pristine, so our coastal wildlife does not feel the impact of our choices on land. Data collection apps are another excellent option for tracing your trash cleanup. So, do your part as an eco hero and log what you collect. You will be surprised how little time can make such a huge difference!
Litter is not an issue of type of debris, but one of personal responsibility. We ALL share in the responsibility to prevent litter – stopping debris before it reaches our stormwater drains where it can drift to our oceans. Protect our oceans and we protect ourselves.
~ Jean-Michel Cousteau ~
Become a volunteer at an animal shelter.
According to the SPCA organization, “…approximately 6.3 million companion animals enter U.S. animal shelters nationwide every year. Of those, approximately 3.1 million are dogs and 3.2 million are cats.” Over 920,000 dogs and cats are euthanized in the U.S.
Abandoned, sick, injured, and malnourished animals of all species need our support. Become an eco hero and look for organizations in your area that assist the animals you love.
Ocean-Based Opportunities in Orange County
- Pacific Marine Mammal Center, Laguna Beach, CA
- Ocean Institute, Dana Point, CA
- Dana Point Headlands & Nature Center, Dana Point, CA
Be an eco hero at work!
Seabirds, turtles, and fish are ingesting various plastic items. Toxic pellets, flakes, and plastic powder affecting their ability to breathe, swallow, or digest foods properly are devastating ecosystems. If you own or work for a company committed to making an environmental change in how you do business, check out CleanSweep! Their mission is to prevent the pellets, flakes, and powder from plastic from getting into waterways that eventually lead to the sea. Take your business to a better place and take the Clean Sweep Pledge today!
What does it take to become an Eco Hero at Home?
Eliminating some everyday household items used in your home can make BIG changes over time. Here are ten simple things you can implement today that will create an impact for change.
1. Add reusable food wraps and sandwich/snack bags to the grocery list.
Using reusable food storage containers is one of the most manageable first steps to implementing your eco hero habits at home. Choosing reusable containers and wraps is a top pick that reduces environmental waste and is BPA-free and dishwasher safe. They come in many shapes and sizes to accommodate various food options. These are a favorite of many of our captains and crews here at Captain Dave’s because they keep your food airtight but also are easy to clean, and best of all – they can be used repeatedly! Here are a few our eco heroes love to use at sea at Capt. Dave’s Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari.
- Best for Older Kids and adults:
- Best for kids ages 3-7:
- Best for Snacks / Salads:
- Best Wraps & Bags:
2. Eliminate wasteful school/work lunch bags and switch to using environmentally friendly lunch boxes and bags.
Lunch bags that keep your food hot or cold AND eliminate the use of wasteful brown paper lunch bags? Yes, please!! While paper products are recyclable, paper lunch bags remain wasteful. Insulated, reusable food storage solutions take food on the go to the next level by providing refreshingly cool fruits and veggies instead of soggy sammies when the refrigerator is not available. Insulated lunch boxes allow you to pack for longer trips and are the perfect alternative to wasteful paper and plastic lunch sacks. Bring your insulated lunch bag or box on your next eco hero tour and be the eco hero you want to be at mealtime. Here are some suggestions if you aren’t sure where to start:
- Best overall (but a little pricey): Yeti Lunch Boxes
- Most Affordable: Mier
- Best for Kids: Wildkin Kids, PakIt Freezable Bags
Thankfully there is a wide variety of insulated options on the market today with plenty of color options and designs. Going green is an important decision, so make it personal. After all, making a difference is a personal choice, so become an eco hero in style!
3. Reusable drink bottles are way cooler than single-use plastic water bottles.
Studies show that plastic debris entanglements kill an estimated 100,000 marine animals annually! This includes whales, dolphins, seals, sea lions, fish, sharks, and turtles. If you don’t take our word for it, rely on the facts.
- Americans are the single biggest users of single-use plastic water bottles
- Approximately 200 billion plastic water bottles are used each year around the world.
- Of those, more than 21% (or 42.6 billion) are used in the United States. And this number is on the rise, despite efforts to educate the population about the harmful use of plastic bottles and consumption of single-use bottled water which has increased by about 9.5% each year since 1976.
At Capt. Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari®, we take our environmental impact VERY seriously. Giving back is one way we make a daily difference with other eco heroes we align with. Our NEWEST release of stainless steel water bottles is available for purchase when you check in for your upcoming trip. Grab your eco-friendly water located in the refrigerators up at the Dolphin Deck. These are the perfect solutions to reducing waste while staying hydrated out on the water and having the time of your life.
There are many options to choose from when picking your reusable drink container. If you are looking for water safety, the glass option is the safest because of its chemical-free design. Glass bottles are also made from natural materials and are dishwasher safe. Stainless steel is another excellent option to choose from because, along with being environmentally friendly, this material is also highly durable. Sanitizing your water bottle is equally important. Experts recommend washing your hydration station at least once a week, but you can do it more often if you’ve been sick or taken your bottle outside. This will eliminate germs and bacteria from growing inside your new drink bottle.
Be an eco hero at home. When you are not out and about, there are plenty of ways to keep your home eco-friendly.
4. Reduce your waste in the kitchen.
Use your green waste bin to its fullest potential: Food waste bins and tossing scraps in your green waste bin. The bags are usually compostable, so add them to your green waste bin or create a composite of your own in your yard and see the earth in action. You will be amazed at how quickly your food scraps become lush, fertile soil!
If you can have chickens in your neighborhood, feed your chooks table scraps! If you can have chickens in your neighborhood, feed your chooks table scraps! Chickens can eat almost everything, so if you have chickens in your neighborhood, feed your chooks table scraps!
“Plastic bags are one of the main causes of marine pollution, and the focus on plastic bag reduction is ongoing. Many supermarkets have stopped issuing plastic bags to customers, encouraging them to bring their bags instead. Since we’ve become so used to the convenience of plastic bags, you may find this change a little bit inconvenient.”
Use compostable waste bags in your refuse bins! Even the more prominent big box brands like GLAD know that trash bags deplete our earth’s resources. According to The World Counts, “global waste production will increase but 70% in 2050 compared to 2016.” If you think that is a staggering fact, your mind will start spinning when you see how many plastic bags are used daily. Check out their plastic bag calculator.
Bring your reusable bags to the supermarket. Instead of taking home wasteful plastic $.10 bags from the register, bring bags you can take with you EVERY TIME you visit the register. Plastic doesn’t biodegrade. It lives on forever. It is one of the biggest killers in the ocean because as it breaks down and photo-degrades, it leaves behind little plastic pieces of itself. Devastatingly, plastic-sized particles now outnumber plankton 6 to 1! These tiny plastics are mistaken as food by marine animals, and as they digest them, they become falsely full and die. This is our tragic reality in 2023 and one in which you can make a difference. So next time they ask if you prefer a $.99 bag in place of that plastic one, be an eco hero and, SAY YES!
5. Reuse and Repurpose.
Do you have a piece of furniture you don’t love as much as you did when you first acquired it? Think about giving it “new life” by painting it or changing out the hardware or fabric. Have a hole in your jeans? Add a patch using a different piece of fabric to create a fresh look. Sometimes all things need is a refresher. Being an eco hero means making something old, looking new, and chic. Needs ideas? Pinterest is a great place to start for getting great ideas.
6. Just say NO to plastic and Styrofoam.
There is no room for plastic waste or Styrofoam in today’s climate. Doing everything you can do to avoid using these highly unsustainable products is one of our top activities to quit today as an eco hero that is vital to earth’s survival. The simple impact of using a refillable cup for your coffee instead of grabbing styrofoam “to go” is not only easy but necessary! If caffeine isn’t your thing and you prefer the water, grab your refillable drink bottle and never waste plastic again. If you find yourself on the go without your favorite drink bottle nearby, be sure to find something served up in a recyclable vessel.
When you are Out and About, You Can:
7. Pick up three pieces of trash everywhere you go.
Keep a set of gloves in the glove compartment for your family to use when you are out and about. Bringing the kids to the park? You can help them learn how to be an eco hero by cleaning up the trash on the ground. Simply picking up wrappers you see around your immediate space is an entry-level way to clean up and show your family how to make a difference in your immediate surroundings.
Nowadays, many countries have a “your trash is your responsibility” law requiring citizens to throw all refuse away at their own homes. Try this for a few days. Seeing how to be responsible for the trash your family brings out of your home will likely make you and your friends and family more aware of how to control what you decide to throw away when you leave your home!
8. Carpool with friends and coworkers.
Fewer cars on the roads mean less exhaust and chemicals in the air. Choosing to carpool allows you to access less congested traffic. Riding HOV lanes shortens your commute. Try it today – you may make a new friend in the process!
9. Choose a more environmentally friendly vehicle.
The car market is filled with brands growing their environmentally conscious vehicles. Many of these newer vehicles are separately solely on battering use, eliminating the need for fuel! Your bill at the pump adds up quickly with busy families, and eliminating the use of fuel (petrol) is not only a considerable saving in your pocketbook but an earth-focused change that aids in reducing the use of fossil fuels. The government will reward you and provide a tax write-off for making the trade. Be sure to check out current incentives before you buy.
10. Make conscious menu decisions when dining out.
“The Global Meat, Poultry, and Seafood Packaging market is valued at 2815.7 million USD in 2020 and is expected to reach 4310 million USD by the end of 2026, growing at a CAGR of 6.2% during 2021-2026”
Choosing to stop doing something is equally important as starting a new habit sometimes. Limiting eating fish throughout the month (or completely) is a great way to start becoming an eco hero. At the market, look for fish sold to grocery stores and markets that serve sustainably caught fish. Fish consumption and our choices at the register significantly impact the fishing industry. Limiting all animal-sourced menu options is a super easy way for you and your family and friends to become more meaningful eco heroes.
Little ways to make changes in items you regularly purchase to accompany things like cereal and coffee are in the form of dairy. Next time you visit your local Starbucks or favorite local coffee hot spot, choose plant-based choices like almond, oat, coconut, cashew, and soy milk instead of dairy-based milk. Dairy cows are taken from crying calves at very young ages to increase milk production for human consumption. Sadly, dairy cow mothers must endure this heartbreaking experience approximately five times before being considered “spent.” Since bulls (male cows) are of little use to the dairy market, the youngest ones are slaughtered for veal, while older male cows are slaughtered and used for steaks, ground meat, sausage, and more. Give them a fighting chance by changing your habits today.
Choose sustainably sourced seafood and meats on a date night out. Here are a few useful resource tools to get you started:
We hope our robust guide to becoming an eco hero helps you start your journey to becoming more sustainable. The easiest thing you can do is start, even if it feels like the hardest thing to begin. You got this, and we are here to support you too. Share your journey with us on your upcoming eco tour today!
Until Next Time,
First Mate & Marine Naturalist