As a harbor city, Charleston is home to a vast array of marine life, birds, and marsh-dwelling critters. As such, the Charleston community has become increasingly aware of product consumption, pollution, and the need for wildlife conservation. In fact, it has been the Charleston community’s goal for decades to conserve all aspects of the city so that it remains one of the United States’ oldest and most beautiful cities.
So, whether you live in Charleston or not, if you’re looking to minimize your carbon footprint and help conserve the environment (not just locally, but also nationwide and globally) then take a few lessons in conservation from the Charleston community:
1. Educate yourself on community efforts and get involved: Charleston, for example, has a variety of conservation programs and organizations, including programs at the South Carolina Aquarium (including the Sea Turtle Rescue Program and the Sustainable Seafood Initiative), Go Green Charleston Organization, Green Taxi (a sustainable taxi company), etc. Stay tuned for Thursday’s blog post, which will be our interview with the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Rescue Program!
2. Become more observant: Many times garbage, plastic, lithium batteries, and other materials (not meant for the ocean) will make its way into the ocean and other natural habitats, which can be extremely hazardous to animals. Wildlife can choke on plastic containers, get stuck in garbage (such as the plastic rings that hold a 6-pack of cans together), and eat products that can cause death. Whenever you are out and about, keep an eye out for garbage in the streets or on the shores and pick up what you can to dispose of it properly.
It’s also important to keep an eye out for injured wildlife without impeding on natural habitats. Injured animals are often found on Charleston’s shores and natural habitats when they are on the brink of death, so it’s important to seek medical attention for these animals immediately. Whenever you see an injured animal it’s important to contact your Department of Natural Resources to handle the issue (don’t try to touch or pick up the animal on your own as they may bite you, carry a disease, or cause you harm).
3. Take a bike wherever you can: Bicycles are not meant for every road, but in the areas with designated bike lanes and / or low levels of fast traffic, taking a bike to work or to run your errands is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. In fact, many larger companies in the Charleston area fully support biking instead of driving, and offer company bikes for employees to run errands and / or go to lunch.
4. Don’t overfish: Wherever you go fishing, always make sure to check with the area’s local Department of Natural Resources so that you can follow appropriate fishing guidelines. These guidelines are put in place to ensure that the waters remain populated and that no species becomes endangered. Charleston, for example, has laws that pertain to recreational saltwater fishing, as well as harvesting marine resources (such as oysters and clams). Therefore, if you’re fishing in the Charleston area, visit the SCDNR website.
And, of course, if you are not going to eat the animals that you take from the ocean, always release them.
5. Buy locally: When you purchase locally, not only are you stimulating the local economy, but you are also supporting products that have not been mass-produced. Often, when products are mass-produced they are shipped (fuel emissions) in lots and lots of packaging (waste). But when you buy locally, products are only transported short distances and often do not require heavy packaging.
6. Reduce consumption: Purchase products in bulk to help reduce packaging. You also save money in the long run! Also, try not to purchase products that are packaged heavily, especially with foil, paper, and / or plastic.
And, try not to purchase anything that can’t decompose in nature or can’t be reused, such as disposable razors, paper towels, paper plates, water bottles, etc.
7. Reuse when you can: Try to reuse any durable products, such as cans, plastic containers, water bottles, and plastic bags. Even if you can only get a few uses out of them, it’s better to reuse what you can before disposing of it. One of the best ways to reuse is to only bring canvas and / or reusable bags to the grocery store to pack your groceries. This cuts down on paper and plastic bag consumption.
8. Recycle what you can: Purchase products that can be recycled—recyclable materials often have a recycling symbol on the packaging.
Keeping with the theme of conservation, Charleston Harbor Tours‘ recently interviewed Kelly Thorvalson, Sea Turtle Program Manager at the South Carolina Aquarium, on the aquarium’s sea turtle rescue efforts. This interview will be published this Thursday on our blog, so check back later this week for the amazing interview!