Who doesn't love the beach? But as we all flock to the shores this summer it's important to remain conscious of the kind of damage that our love of the beach can wreak on marine life and the beaches themselves. A good eco-rule of thumb whenever you're out enjoying nature: "Leave only footprints, take only photos."
1. Follow marked paths to the beach, rather than walking across sensitive sand dunes and other natural shoreline areas that provide food and shelter for wildlife. The walkways are there for a good reason, so use them.
2. Leave nothing behind, meaning take your trash with you when you go. Be especially careful of glass from broken bottles; remember that people are walking on the beach in their bare feet.
3. Leave what you find where you found it. This also goes for wildlife and plants-the "Do Not Disturb" rule always applies. As for seashells, rocks and sand dollars, leave them for the next person to enjoy.
4. Use safe sunscreen. Paraben, cinnamate, benzophenone and a camphor derivative used in these UV skin protectors are seriously endangering the ocean's coral. Avoid these ingredients and keep the fish safe, too.
5. Keep yourself safe. Don't swim where there isn't a lifeguard, never turn your back to the waves, always use sun protection and avoid overheating. For more do's and don'ts, go to the Environmental Protection Agency site.
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