7 Ways To Help Save The Ocean on Vacation

woman in tan sun hat lying on a sandy beach during the day

Dreaming of your next beach vacation? Before you pack your bags, learn how to help save the ocean from plastic pollution so we can all enjoy it for longer.

Estimated Read Time: 5 minutes

Beach vacations: Insta vs. reality  

If you’re anything like us, you love scrolling through images of your dream destinations.

Maybe you picture yourself swinging in a hammock, swimming with turtles, or listening to the crashing waves in the clear blue seas.

While the pictures might make it seem perfect, sadly, Instagram isn’t always reality. Beneath the gorgeous ‘gram, plastic waste is destroying the world’s oceans.

Every year, millions of tourists flock to the world’s most beautiful beaches and don’t always treat them with the respect they deserve. Plastic waste is frequently left behind, finds its way into oceans, and harms marine life and our delicate ecosystem.

Some of the most found plastics left on the beach include:

  • Cigarette butts
  • Bottle caps
  • Straws
  • Cups and plates
  • Single-use bags
  • Food wrappers

All of which can be avoided if we choose to switch to zero-waste products instead.

Government leadership and businesses are needed to control the plastic problem at large, but there are small and impactful things we can all do to help save our beaches.

If you’re lucky enough to spend this summer by the sea, here are 7 ways to have a plastic-free beach day.

School of fish in blue ocean water surrounded by plastic trash

Ocean quick facts:

  • The ocean produces half of the world’s oxygen.
  • Every minute, two garbage trucks of plastic are dumped into the ocean.
  • There is more microplastic in the ocean than stars in the Milky Way
  • Over 1 million marine organisms are killed each year due to plastic pollution in the ocean.
  • If current trends continue, by 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans than there are fish.

See this Oceans Fact Sheet for more!

7 tips for a plastic-free beach day

These vacation hacks can be easily integrated into your stroll-and-sunbathe routine (we’re not jealous at all!).

1. First things first, start packing 

Sustainable choices require some planning and a plastic-free day at the beach is no different.

The following tips will give you some ideas for sustainable essentials you might want to bring, but before all that, you need to think about what to bring them in.

A plastic carrier bag is a no-go. That’s a vision that gives us nightmares. Tote bags and backpacks are always useful, but better yet, how about a backpack made of ocean plastic?

Each GOT BAG backpack we sell recycles 7.7 lbs of plastic recovered from the ocean, tackling the plastic problem at its root.

Our picks:

Daypack Made of Ocean Plastic


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Backpack Made of Ocean Plastic


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Rolltop Backpack Made of Ocean Plastic


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2. Getting hangry? Pack a picnic

No one wants to chill at the beach with a hangry monster who forgot to pack snacks. It kinda ruins the relaxing vibes.

In times of desperation, it might be tempting to go to the nearest shop for chips and candy. But packaged snacks = plastic pollution.

To avoid the hanger and keep the ocean clean, make a fun picnic. Keep it fresh with zero-waste wraps and you can stay well-fed and happy all day.

Our picks:

Beeswax Food Wraps

From $6.00

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Reusable Utensil Kit with Straw


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Ceramic Reusable Bottle with Straw - 34oz


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3. Finding the perfect spot? Clean up litter as you go

Pile of disposable cups and other food packaging

When you walk to find the perfect sunbathing spot, pick up any plastic wrappers you spot.

This is the easiest way to make the beach more pleasant for you and others. It prevents plastic from making its way to oceans and if other people see you litter-picking, they might be inspired to clean up too.

4. Don't forget your SPF! Just make sure it's sustainable

It’s super important to wear SPF whenever you’re in the sun, just make sure to pick one that doesn’t contain plastic in the packaging or formula.

According to Beat The Microbead, 72% of sun care products contain microplastics in the formula. When you run into the ocean barefoot and carefree, these microplastics rinse off into the water and can harm wildlife and coral reefs.

Fortunately, there are now many reef-safe and plastic-free alternatives to choose from instead.

Our pick:

SPF 30 Plastic-Free Sunscreen


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5. Getting beach ready? Check your product labels

white woven hat and brandless beauty products on a floral textile

It’s not just sunscreen you should be picky about. Whatever products you require for your Instagrammable beach day, double check they don’t contain ingredients that can harm the oceans and marine life.

You can use Beat The Microbead App to scan the ingredients list for microplastics and harmful ingredients.

6. Time to go? Rinse off without plastic bottles

What’s better than the post-beach day shower-and-nap combination when you’re on vacation?

When it’s time to rinse the sand off (seriously, how does it get everywhere?), opt for zero-waste products. If you prefer to use bottled shampoo and conditioner, join the refill revolution and go for packaging that can be used time and time again.

Our picks:

Shampoo Bar


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Conditioner Bar


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Refillable Travel Shampoo


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Refillable Travel Conditioner


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7. Love the ocean long-time? Join a community clean-up

two men in blue shirts and white hats, squatting down on a sandy beach collecting trash into a large sac

If you’re staying somewhere longer, or perhaps there’s a beach near where you live, check out if there’s a community beach clean-up.

This is a fun way to connect with other ocean lovers and make a larger impact by teaming up to keep plastic off the beach. The Ocean Conservancy has a useful map for finding a beach cleanup in your area.

Other ways to help save the ocean on vacation

Of course, sustainable travel goes beyond your lazy beach days. Here are some other ways you can make sure your beach vacation doesn’t harm marine life:

  • If you prefer to book through a travel agent, check they’re committed to responsible and sustainable travel. You can usually find this information on their website.
  • Be conscious and respectful of wildlife when you’re at the beach. Don’t touch marine life or coral reefs.
  • If you eat seafood, try to make sure it’s sustainably sourced. You can find Oceanic Society has a useful guide to help you out.
  • Consider donating to a charity that helps save the ocean. If you shop with us on World Ocean’s Day (8th June), we’ll donate 10% to our friends at Coral Restoration Foundation.

Learn more about the ocean

sea turtle swimming underwater

While you’re lazing on the beach, why not learn more about the ocean? The more you know, the more inspired you’ll be to help end plastic pollution.

Here are our top 5 ocean books and podcasts.


  • The Brilliant Abyss by Helen Scales
  • All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine K. Wilkinson
  • Into the Planet: My Life as a Cave Diver by Jill Heinerth
  • Below the Edge of Darkness by Edith Widder
  • The World of Coral Reefs by Erin Spencer


Together, we can help save the ocean!

Whether you’re prepping for your beach getaway or dreaming of the ocean at home, by choosing to shop sustainably, you can make a difference today.

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