Sea otters are a sentinel, one of the most sensitive and useful wildlife sentinels ever found, of toxins, bacteria, parasites and chemicals flowing from land to sea in the Monterey Bay area. The effects on sea otters and their populations are so severe that these various forms of pollution are one of the more important reasons our California sea otters are not recovering from their “threatened” state. And, it essentially all comes from land – which means it comes from us, all of us.
The good news is that we can all make a difference by reconsidering our own habits and encouraging others to do the same. Here are a few things to think about.
- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!
- Reduce your plastic consumption and don’t use single-use plastic bags and bottles
- Dispose of hazardous waste (paint, herbicide, pesticide, solvents, batteries, medication, electronics) properly by taking those items to your local hazardous waste site!
- Be conscientious of everything that you put down your drain since most of it will eventually make its way back into rivers, streams, and the ocean.
- Use non-toxic, environmentally friendly household cleaners and detergents
- Landscape (greenscape) your yard! Planted areas absorb rainwater which helps reduce runoff into storm drains. Reduce or eliminate your use of pesticides and fertilizers. Instead use organic gardening techniques and plant native species that require less water. Try composting and starting your own garden.
- Don’t dump anything into storm drains! Everything that enters a storm drain flows directly into streams, rivers and ultimately the ocean.
- Don’t litter. And If you see some trash, pick it up!
- Inspect your car regularly for leaks and if you change your oil yourself, recycle it. If you can wash your car on an unpaved surface if you don’t take it to a carwash.
- Don’t hose down your driveway and sidewalk, sweep them.
- Pick up after your dog!
- Use less and buy less stuff to slow down your contribution to the waste stream and landfills
- Use less water
- When purchasing goods, opt for sustainable, recycled, biodegradable, compostable, organic products whenever possible. Buy from companies that care about the environment.
- Save energy at home and switch to renewable power sources if you can. Install energy efficient thermostats, appliances, electronics and light bulbs.
- If you don’t know how big your carbon footprint is, find out and then reduce it.
- Buy local and organic products
- Volunteer for a beach cleanup or organize one of your own
- Learn more about ocean issues and share what you learn with others
- Make smart seafood choices
- Make a donation to the California Sea Otter Fund. California taxpayers can support sea otter research and conservation by making a contribution on their California income tax form 540. Simply look for line 410, labeled CA Sea Otter Fund, under contributions and fill out the amount you wish to donate.