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Help to protect corals in daily life

Tag icon Education
  • © Climate Central
  • © Climate Central
Coral reefs are threatened by an increasing array of impacts worldwide―locally, for instance, by unsustainable fishing and pollution, but also overall by the ongoing climate change.

To give coral reefs a fighting chance for the future, we need to find ways to mitigate these impacts ('get involved'); acting locally, even potentially affecting on a global scale―when adjusting our behavior to reduce Carbon Dioxide emissions: many of us are free to turn a personal change into a positive impact for our planet! And its not only the corals that are threatened but all life on this planet...
Here, we focus on how to take care of your carbon footprint and how to use less plastic...

Take care of your carbon footprint
Climate change is the overall threat for coral reefs around the globe; and not only for them ('Coral reefs are dying'). Rising temperatures cause sea water temperatures to rise accordingly, which in turn, causes corals to bleach (NOAA: "Impacts from Climate Change..."); nowadays, in global mass bleaching event.

Here are our suggestions for how you can adjust your behavior; and most of them are healthy too!

  • When possible, walk or ride your bike―this is the cleanest way to move and a good exercise as well. If you need to go further, carpools and public transportation drastically reduce carbon dioxide emissions by splitting them up among many riders.
  • Avoid flying when possible; it’s one of the heaviest weights on your Carbon emission output. If you have to fly, fly less frequently, fly economy class and compensate your carbon dioxide emissions by investing in renewable energy projects via partners such as and others.
  • Instead of travelling for work, you may use video-conferencing tools such as Skype, Zoom or Facetime more frequently.
  • Buying organic, plant-based, unprocessed local and seasonal foods also supports your local economy. Try to avoid any food waste.
  • Eating less meat and dairy is not only good for the climate but for your health too. There may be many more vegetarian recipes than you would think (e.g. with Jamie Oliver or "30 days of Vegetarian Recipes")!
  • Purchase your electricity (and gas, etc...) from providers that use renewable (and local) energies where possible.
  • Unplug unused electronics―do not leaving them on stand-by―and use energy-saving light bulbs to minimize power consumption.
  • Try to use your air-con as little as possible, if you have one. If it is really needed, adjust it to a few degrees lower than outside―there is no need to freeze your office or living room. You may talk to your employer for adjustments.
  • Wash clothes at low temperatures and hang them to dry (avoid drier).
  • Add insulation and weatherstripping on/at your house; ask your landlord how this may be applied.

You can find more advice on how to reduce your carbon footprint here:

Reduce what you can, offset what you can,
20 Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint, Global Stewards

Use less plastic
Plastic trash is an overall hazard in our oceans, threatening all kinds of marine life like whales, fish, seabirds, turtles, and even corals. Thrown away thoughtlessly, blown away from unsecured dumps, plastic trash enters rivers or directly the sea. Obviously, plastic debris can be a source of pollution and a trap for many marine organisms, like abandoned fisher nets―ghost nets, sometimes kilometers long, that keep on trapping anyone who crosses their path.

There are plastic trash patches of unbelievable extent floating in our oceans, carried together by currents such as the 'Great Pacific Garbage Patch'.

In the sea, animals often confuse plastic trash with food. As many other ocean inhabitants―including the ones that call a coral reef their home―corals themselves take up plastic as food; catching catch microplastic fragments and gobbling them up (“...plastic consumption in a hard coral").

Furthermore, plastic trash can enhance the corals' risk of getting sick: it could carry pathogens and hard debris which could wound corals, triggering infection (“Plastic waste associated with disease on coral reefs").

And if plastic debris blocks sunlight, it not only shades corals and prevents their algae from photosynthesis ('Coral and reefs'), but could also lead to low-oxygen conditions that promote the growth of disease-causing bacteria.

By consuming more thoughtfully and reducing the huge amounts of plastic we use in our daily life, we avoid further plastic pollution of the world’s oceans and consequently protect coral reefs (and the rest of the world doesn’t need more plastic debris either).

  • Bring cotton shopper bags, a basket or a backpack, when you go to the grocery store, so you won’t need plastic bags to carry your groceries home.
  • Buy your fresh food in stores where not everything is wrapped in plastic (#leaveitontheshelf); a local farmers market may be the best choice to buy fruits and vegetables! There are all kinds of reusable fruits and vegetable bags too; many fruits like apples or bananas have their own wrapping already!
  • Bring your own container for take-out to avoid single use containers. Many of us avoid such things at home, but are not well prepared when buying lunch at work.
  • Drink from reusable bottles and your own coffee to-go (thermo-)mug instead of using disposable ones.
  • Avoid using plastic disposables for eating, such as plates, cups and cutlery―regardless whether its a party or the weekly work gathering.
  • Choose cotton buds with cardboard sticks instead of plastic; there are many small details like this, where replacing plastic is possible.
  • Do not buy cosmetics such as peelings or toothpaste which contain microplastic particles.
  • Never free balloons, they may end up somewhere...
  • Fleece or other synthetic fiber clothes are a mixed blessing: they may be comfortable, but they release some of those synthetic fibers in the laundry machine. Such microplastic (as well as from other sources) cannot be filtered out by sewage-treatment plants; better wear plastic free clothing ("SECORE partners with For The Reef Apparel").
  • Separate your household waste and recycle all recyclable materials.
  • Participate in your local beach or river clean-ups and try to collect some plastic litter whenever you walk on the beach. Every piece of plastic that you remove from the marine environment is no longer a danger to the animals that live there. They won’t break down into micro plastics, strangle seabirds or mammals or end up being ingested. If you not live close to the sea, just do the same...Wherever you go, leave no trash behind! Most of it will end up in the ocean; if not, terrestrial wildlife does not need plastic either.
  • Fight for a reliable waste and recycling management system in your local community.

You can get more info here

"Drowning in Garbage", Washington Post
"Tips to use less plastic", Green Education Foundation
"Get involved with ocean conservation", BBC one
2 minute beach clean”, a non-profit organization


Meet our supporters

SECORE's lead partners are:

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium
California Academy of Science
The Nature Conservancy

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