10 easy ways to help our planet every day

As kaitiaki (guardians), Auckland Whale and Dolphin Safari care greatly about limiting our environmental impact. Sustainability is at the centre of how we operate both on and off the Dolphin Explorer.

There are things we can all do, as individuals, to live a more sustainable lifestyle and reduce our toll on our planet. Here are 10 easy ideas that can be incorporated into daily life.

  1. Eating seasonally, locally, and organically where possible: A simple way that you can help to reduce emissions from produce being flown into New Zealand (or your home country) is to eat seasonally and buy locally. This supports local growers, and ensures your produce is fresh, delicious, and nutritious. It also means you are helping to limit your environmental impact, as flying produce around the world uses large amounts of fossil fuels. Why organic or spray free? Many pesticides and herbicides used in conventional farming practices are knowingly reducing biodiversity and harming our pollinators and their environments. Opting for spray free food supports wildlife friendly farming practices.
  2. Swap out plastics – refill and reuse: By using robust, reusable bags for your weekly shop and small, lightweight cotton bags for bagging up your veggies, you are instantly reducing the amount of single use plastic bags going to landfill. No need for single use plastic bottles, invest in a reusable one that you can wash and use repeatedly. Bring your own container to get that take away or stock your pantry with products from a zero-waste store by refilling your own jars.
  3. Change your laundry and fashion habits: 
    • Hang out laundry; One of the easiest (and cheapest) ways to live more sustainably is to hang out your laundry to dry. On a sunny day your clothes will dry in no time with this zero-emissions alternative. Also, there is an added advantage! UV rays from sunlight can act as a disinfectant, so your sun-dried sheets and clothes are even cleaner.
    • Use a cold wash; Heating the water for your wash uses more power and increases the number of microplastics from clothing entering the waterways. By swapping to a cold wash, you still have lovely clean clothes but at less of a cost to the environment and to you.
    • Wash full loads; Wait until you have enough sheets or clothes to do a full load of washing rather than multiple small loads.
    • Conscious clothing choices; Buying and donating second hand clothes extends the life of clothing and reduces landfill. Supporting sustainable fashion brands and looking out for what our clothes are made of will also be more beneficial for the environment. Many clothes are made up of plastic based fabrics such as polyester and nylon, look out for other materials such as linen and cotton.
  4. Swap out your kitchen products: Swapping out synthetic sponges, cloths, and scrubbers for natural fibre ones reduces the amount of microplastics going into the ocean. It also means the items are biodegradable such as wooden handled scrubbers and wood pulp sponges. Do you really need a bin bag liner? Use none or biodegradable ones to help the planet. Using solid soap or refillable soap bottles reduces plastic containers and swapping to colourless eco-friendly soaps prevents harmful chemicals from entering the waterways. Companies like to advertise that they are environmentally friendly, they can be easy to spot on the supermarket shelves.
  5. Swap out bathroom products: Using re-fillable liquid soap bottles prevents single use plastic bottle from being thrown away, many supermarkets are providing refill options. Solid soap, shampoo, and deodorant bars move away from plastic entirely, many people sell these at markets allowing you to support local businesses. Disposable face wipes can block drains or end up in landfill, an alternative is to use reusable cloths that can be washed with your clothes and used hundreds of times. Why not try re-usable shavers instead of disposable plastic ones or wooden toothbrushes? It all keeps things out of landfill. Also, look out for mineral based or reef safe suncreams.
    • Did you know; There are re-usable sanitary items such as menstrual cups, pads, and pants as well and re-usable nappies for those with young families. It saves a heap of money and prevents an abundance of waste.
  6. Walk or cycle: Walking or cycling to your destinations is not only going to increase your exercise and fitness levels but also reduce your emissions in comparison to driving or taking the bus. Where this is not possible, hopping on a form of public transport is also an improvement on driving. Just a small change you can incorporate into your life when it’s doable, that can have a big difference.
  7. Consume less meat/go plant based: Consuming less meat or transitioning to a plant-based diet is a great way you can reduce your carbon emissions. Many conventional farming practices lead to polluted water ways, excess nitrogen runoff and an increase in land clearing for farming livestock and growing their feed. Reducing the amount of meat on our plate and even cutting out fast, processed, foods is a great way to lessen our impact on the planet and promote our own healthier diets. This doesn’t need to be a drastic change, starting with one meat free meal a week is a great way to begin. Many classic dishes can be easily made plant-based, try using lentils and mushrooms instead beef mince in your next Spaghetti Bolognese!
  8. Use the Buycott app: Use the Buycott app when shopping and scan the barcodes of certain products so you can make more informed choices about what you buy. For example, you can see if a certain face scrub has harmful microbeads in it – Voting with your wallet is a great way to live more sustainably.
  9. Litter pick: Going on a picnic, to the beach, or even just walking down the street? Picking up other peoples rubbish is not glamourous, and nobody wants to do it, but picking up say, 10, items from the beach means 10 less items of rubbish heading for the ocean. If everyone onboard a full boat trip did this then there’s 1000 fewer pieces destined for our oceans. 6/10 of all rubbish items found on New Zealand beaches are plastic, most are too small to see. Our Bryde’s whales are estimated to consume 3 million micro plastics each day. Let’s do our bit to reduce the amount of plastic going into the ocean. Plus, you can connect with your community during a local clean up event!
  10. Gardening: Growing your own food reduces our dependence on supermarkets, saves money, and gets us back to nature which works wonders for mental health. This can be done on small or large scale, from growing a little herb garden on a windowsill to filling up a green house. Perhaps set up a home composting system for organic and paper waste. This will create nutrient-rich compost for your garden and create great growing conditions for a vegetable patch. If you have the time, look out for your local community garden, many are organic, and some allow volunteers to take food home as a thank you for a couple of hours work. It’s a great way to meet people, and you do not need gardening experience.
    • Save on water; Collect rainwater from the gutters into a water butt to water plants during dry periods. This reduces the amount of freshwater entering the sewers which can easily fill up in times of heavy downpour and lead to overflowing of sewage systems.

Article contributed by crew members Celia and Becky