I just ordered a copy of David Helvarg’s “50 Ways to Save the Ocean.” The concept of the book got me thinking — what can I do, as an individual, to protect and possibly restore the health of the ocean? The answer is, a lot. We can all do a lot as individuals, and collectively, we can make a huge difference. And we need to — before it’s too late and the damage already being done is irreversible. If we begin taking greater care of the ocean now, it will bounce back. The ocean has been around for millennia, and it’s resilient enough to recover from harm caused by human activity. What can we do? Well, there are at least 50 things according to Helvarg’s book.

We can start by being conscientious beachgoers and leaving the beach clean of trash. We can avoid walking on dunes or probing into wildlife habitat. We can use less plastic and recycle what we do use. Plastics are virtually indestructible and can be found in excess all over the world. In fact, plastics make up about 90% of the trash floating the ocean. Almost all plastics are recyclable. If you don’t have curbside recycling, many grocery stores have recycling bins or you can find your local municipal recycling center. If you don’t have one — start bugging your local politicians.

We can avoid seafood altogether or eat seafood that is healthy and heavy-metal free. That means avoiding the large pelagic species. We can select seafood that is abundant and caught sustainably such as wild Alaskan salmon. Avoid farmed species because they tend to produce too much waste that pollutes the surrounding waters.

We can avoid contact with corals when diving or snorkeling — even gently touching corals can cause harm.

We can drive a fuel-efficient car and car pool or use public transit.

We can avoid using toxic chemicals like most detergents and pesticides.

We can refuse to buy jewelry, “knick knacks,” and health products that exploit sea creatures unnecessarily. For example, the claims that taking coral calcium and shark cartilage are beneficial to your health are unsubstantiated.

We can buy locally grown produce and both support local farmers and reduce the amount fossil fuels burned during the transport of produce.

These are just a few of the ideas in “50 Ways to Save the Ocean” – there are lots of others and if we follow the advice in the book, then the answer is yes — we, as individuals, can make a difference.