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Be a Responsible Beach Traveler with these Do’s and Don’ts

by Danna Peña
March 1, 2019

With an abundance of coastal towns, bodies of water, and long stretches of shores, most Filipinos are no strangers to the beach.

Despite this, there’s a lot to improve on when it comes to managing our precious shores and oceans. Locals and tourists alike can both be guilty of committing irresponsible acts, but with this list of simple practices, we can all bring about waves of change.

Educate yourself on how to become a responsible traveler before going on that dreamy beach vacay. Here are easy to-do’s (and don’ts) to keep our beaches’ sands pristine, their waters crystal clear, and their communities happy.

DO apply ocean-friendly sunblock

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Snorkelers, divers, and beachgoers, take note! In 2018, Hawaii became the first US state to pass a bill banning the sale of sunscreen with oxybenzone and octinoxate, which researchers have found to cause the gradual bleaching of coral reefs.

Many sunscreens in the market still contain these harmful chemicals, but fortunately, brands are starting to create reef-friendly sunscreen formulas for everyone’s benefit. A few local picks include Magwai’s Reef-Safe Sunscreen SPF50+ and Human Nature’s SafeProtect Mineral Suncreen SPF30+.

DO pick up trash

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That cigarette butt laying on the sand? Leave it as is and it may just end up poisoning a turtle’s gut. Sadly, people assume that cigarettes are just rolled-up pieces of paper that vanish into thin air when wet and trampled on, but they actually contain toxic chemicals that harm the environment, especially when in contact with water.

Beverage bottles, chip bags, and the like have their fair share of causing detriment to nature when left improperly disposed. So, pick up trash and leave the beach better than when you arrived.

DO bring reusable bottles, straws, cups, and cutlery

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If establishments in cities encourage the use of reusable straws, cups, and cutlery, we need to be even more vigilant with their more vulnerable seaside counterparts. Beachgoers’ picnics by the shore often produce a lot of waste—making it easier to leave behind trash that will be swept away by waves later on.

Practice using reusable items from the cities to the seas. Needless to say, it’s environment-friendly, but what’s even better is that it helps you save money in the long run. If you must bring plastic, make sure to properly dispose of it in designated garbage bins, or bring it home to properly dispose of there.

DO bring an eco bag or compostable trash bag for all your waste

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In this day and age, the use of plastic bags is discouraged so much that grocery stores and other shopping establishments have started selling their very own eco bags in hopes of getting people to ditch the plastic bags. So while packing for your beach getaway, make sure to include eco bags or compostable trash bags to dump all your waste in.

Even if you don’t bring an eco bag, you’ll at least have a go-to bag to carry all your items. For all the waste you can’t properly dispose of at the beach—may it be due to its virgin state or simply its lack of trash cans—it won’t hurt to keep it in your bag for you to take home. Doing so is absolutely better than leaving your trash behind!

DO think before haggling

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Even if a local is already offering you a good bargain for a product, it may still get tempting to ask for a cheaper price. Bargaining is part of many Southeast Asian cultures and isn’t a foreign practice in many Philippine low-end outdoor markets.

Though good-natured haggling is welcome, keep in mind how far the extra pesos will go for the seller. If you’re spending more than enough on accommodations, food, and flights, then it certainly won’t hurt to buy a product for its fair price. Not only will it uplift the local economy, but it will sustain the vendor’s livelihood, too.

DON’T blast music too loud

INSTAGRAM: mattyjulian

Ever heard of noise pollution? It’s a real cause for concern, and is a problem that popular beaches like Boracay and La Union have already been working hard to keep at bay. It comes in the form of loud machines, modes of transportation, and to some, unwanted music playing loudly in public.

See that girl reading on the sand? Or that guy basking under the sun, seemingly content in his own world? It’s highly improbable that they’d appreciate the obnoxious EDM blasting shamelessly from your speakers. Beaches are public areas to be shared by all—it’s only common decency to be mindful of each and everyone’s space. Lower the volume of your speakers or don’t play music at all, unless you’ve secured a secluded beach spot all to yourselves.

DON’T pick up starfish nor touch coral reefs

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Although irresistible to touch and a surefire way of getting likes on Instagram, picking up starfish out of the water (especially for photos) is a big no-no. Fresh air is toxic to a starfish’s respiratory system, which means that lifting them out of water can be instantly fatal to them.

Touching coral reefs is frowned upon as well. What seems like a gentle graze can cause damage to an entire colony, as it may scrape away its protective layer of mucus that shield it from infections. When visiting the beach or diving in the ocean, it’s best to cause no disturbance to marine wildlife and ecosystems by being as careful and unobtrusive as possible.

DON’T feed the fish

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It may seem harmless to hand-feed fish and other marine wildlife, but it propagates a behavior called ‘conditioning’ where animals start associating humans with food. Not only that, but leaving food in the water increases the nutrient levels of reefs, which then increases the growth of harmful algae that damage corals.

Don’t disrupt the ecosystem by committing acts that are unnatural to a sea creature’s way of survival. When on a beach getaway, it’s best to follow nature advocate Chief Seattle’s famous plea to ‘take only memories, leave nothing but footprints’.

Craving the sun, sand, and sea? Here are must-visit beach destinations in the Philippines!

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About Danna
Danna feels lucky to marry two of her passions—writing and travel—as part of DG’s Content & Marketing team. A writer of sorts, her previous works have been published on Rappler, CNN Philippines Life, PURVEYR, and Young STAR's Zine. When she's not working, she finds herself exploring all kinds of destinations, may it be a vast sea, a bustling city, a foreign land, or most frequently, a book. Catch her on dannapena.com and @dannapena on Instagram.

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