How to Love the Ocean

The ocean is very sick. Why you should care, and what you can do to help.


In the midst of what was an otherwise self-absorbed and indulgent vacation, I was confronted with realities that commanded awareness and a sense of personal responsibility. I was sailing with friends in the Andaman Sea. Surrounded by scenery so dreamlike that even my imagination couldn’t compete with, I questioned if we had been CGI-ed into the set of movie Avatar. Friends who have looked through my photographs claim my photos “can’t be real”, or that they “look like a postcard”. But what my friends didn’t see (as a result of my careful omission) was the vast amount of trash dotting the shores and floating in the water so prevalent among some of the most beautiful landscapes on earth.

How to Love the Ocean

The ocean has given so much to me in my lifetime. It hurt me to no end to see such rampant pollution. Dozens of miles from shore, on remote and uninhabited islands, plastic bottles, mountains of disposable containers and countless remains of now indistinguishable styrofoam something’s covered the coastline. The evidence of such neglect and indifference was painful to process. Regardless of your stance on climate change, and even if you think humans have no influence on the environment, how could one have such blatant disregard for such profound beauty.

How to Love the Ocean

On the dock at the Marina, I had struck up a single serving friendship with a local. I inquired about renting some fishing poles but my new friend discouraged me from doing so. When I asked why, he simply replied “there are no fish in this part of the sea anymore”. By the time we got to the more touristy islands like Koh Pi Pi, I was nauseated and ashamed of us. Outdoor bars right on the sand where people discard cigarettes and beer bottles directly into the bay. This island was the filming location for the movie The Beach. For as far as I could see in every direction, there were American and Euro trash tourists behaving as if they had deep contempt for the same gorgeous scenery they had traveled thousands of miles to visit. It was an all-out assault on nature.

How to Love the Ocean

During recent sailing adventures in Latin America, I have made similar observations. I have also heard firsthand accounts from other sailors’ of enormous trash islands they have passed floating in the middle of the Pacific. This isn’t the result of Tsunamis, and my personal experience confirms the problem isn’t isolated to specific regions. This is happening all over the world.

I was disturbed to the point where I needed to participate in some small way. I don’t have children, but many of my close friends do. I am also not Al Gore and many people that know me may be surprised or classify what I have shared here as uncharacteristic given the altruistic nature of my message. To be really direct, I wasn’t motivated to help for the purpose of leaving a cleaner planet for future generations. My relationship with ocean deserves reciprocity. I owe a debt, and a precious resource, my inspiration is in danger.  Regardless of how insignificant my contribution may be, I just needed to start somewhere, do something.

How to Love the Ocean

I began modifying my use of resources on a daily basis immediately. Plastic garbage bags were replaced by stylish reusable totes when I went grocery shopping. Recycling trips became a top priority because I started diligently separating my trash each week. Reusable stainless steel water bottles limited the number of plastics in my possession. Organic and anti-chemical cleaning products became a healthier option for my home maintenance.

Organizations such as Clean Ocean Action and Surfrider Foundation allowed me to research about ocean life and connect with others who were passionate about keeping the ocean healthy. While adapting to a more eco-friendly lifestyle, I inspired my family, friends, and readers to do the same. These lifestyle changes are the foundations for better treatment of our oceans. If all of us contributed our eco-friendly efforts, the ocean would be in a better condition for the future.

How to Love the Ocean

Sometimes the smallest acts of giving can still have a large impact on a cause. Humanity isn’t just a single entity detached from nature. It’s our responsibility to be one with nature and not abuse what it provides. By caring for our oceans, we create a priceless exchange. Limiting our ocean pollution brings us clean water and air for generations. Whenever you are at the beach or on a yacht, take a moment to meditate on how nice the ocean feels not only to you, but to all creatures living in it. Now, that’s something worth protecting.

Avatar of Parker Kaback

Parker is a serial entrepreneur and founder of Techovia, a business consulting agency. He grew up in the Hamptons and now lives in San Diego.

Reader Discussion: 67 Comments

  1. Avatar of Gayle Cannon

    Gayle Cannon

    Telling ourselves that our actions are “insignificant” because that’s not true. Every action no matter how small is important.

    • Avatar of Tara Hunt

      Tara Hunt

      I agree. If our actions aren’t significant, then maybe the environment wouldn’t even be destroyed.

  2. Avatar of Diane Simon

    Diane Simon

    Aren’t most of you curious about why a certain tourist destination (a beach, a lake, or whatever.) could only last about a few years of being beautiful? After a while that tourists have come to spawn in these places, the place starts to appear like it has been worn out and nearly destroyed at some point. Trash everywhere, water bottles and all that. Other beaches even have receded beach fronts after a few years. In time, we won’t even have ANY beautiful beaches anywhere.

  3. Avatar of Anne Rios

    Anne Rios

    It’s so sad to see animals with these trash. Like turtles with plastic forks in their noses.?

  4. Avatar of Myra Jordan

    Myra Jordan

    You don’t even need children to know that our environment isn’t as it used to be. You don’t even have to have a generation of your own children just to see that the world won’t be safe enough for them in the future. All it takes is a little adjustment to all our daily habits and necessities and we could do great things for our environment already. I’m sure you’re feeling that intense heat during summers or the extreme coldness during winters. Climate change should scare you enough to take care of the resources that we have.



    I don’t know where to start. I want to help.☹️

  6. Avatar of Hazel Barker

    Hazel Barker

    God has given us this world to take care of. Not just so we can take from it and leave it to be destroyed.

  7. Avatar of Nellie Mills

    Nellie Mills

    It’s disappointing that we’ve come to enjoy mother nature but we don’t even respect it even for one bit. After we’ve drained mother nature of its fruits, we seem to assume that it’s fine and it’s a behavior that will come unnoticed. We should start being responsible for all of our actions no matter how small. Can you just imagine how it would affect our planet if all of us are assuming that abusing our environment is alright because no one really sees what we’re doing? One small action can lead to great effects and this is what’s happening now.

  8. Avatar of Anne Knotts

    Anne Knotts

    I watched this documentary and even the depths of the ocean have trash…. Highly disappointing for us all.

  9. Avatar of Anita Von

    I’ve seen worse photos of the ocean especially under it and it’s disturbing. But I think the problem lies mostly with influential companies that aren’t responsible enough with their waste disposal and usage of packaging.

    • Avatar of Lucia Giannone

      Lucia Giannone

      I’ve seen those in Facebook too.

  10. Avatar of Krysta Nielson

    Krysta Nielson

    Personally, I don’t even mind switching to a plastic-free life. However, if alternatives aren’t highly available to everybody at an affordable price, people won’t be patronizing it at all. For example, we can always get rid of plastic straws and switch to paper ones. But the problem is, we all know how paper straws melt the longer they stay dipped in our drinks. Food companies result in giving about 2 paper straws per customer and that’s not exactly cost effective for them. Others have invented metal straws, bamboo straws or something as simple as not using straws anymore for dine-in purposes. What about for takeout? I just realized that the effort that companies do in order to lessen the use of plastics is half-hearted.

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