Collier and Lee Counties Edition
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Eco-Beach Blast

Sustainable Ways to Enjoy Sand and Surf

When eco-conscious families hit the beach this summer, there’s more to be aware of than just picking up trash like drink containers, wrappers and found litter. Here are some other ways we can enhance our beach and water experiences while upping fitness benefits.

Rising water levels and severe weather events have damaged coastlines, so extra care is needed. When setting up a beach spot, stay away from sand dunes and pockets of beach grass that serve as natural defenses against beach erosion. Also watch out for marked-off turtle hatching spots; prime nesting season is May through October, according to the nonprofit Turtle Conservancy. Teach kids not to chase birds. Walk around shorebirds to cause minimal disturbance; it’s stressful dodging danger during meals and wastes precious energy stores.

Walking on soft sand is like a weight-training workout, as detailed in Michael Sandler and Jessica Lee’s Barefoot Walking book.

Polluting chemicals enter waterways via fertilizer and industry runoff and accidents like the BP Gulf oil spill; don’t contribute more by using sunscreen that contains oxybenzine, which reportedly alters hormone function. The Environmental Working Group (ewg.org) maintains an online guide of safe sunscreens. The Huffington Post also suggests that we can make our own by mixing zinc oxide (a sunblocking agent), coconut oil (soothes and conditions skin), beeswax (for waterproofing) and tea tree oil (soothes and repairs skin and smells good).

The same care applies to chemical hair dyes, shampoos, conditioners and straighteners. Patronize clean, green salons that use natural hair treatments free of synthetic chemicals, ammonia or para-phenylenediamine (PPD). Or search “nontoxic hair care” online.

Plan a visit to coincide with a public volunteer beach cleanup event. Check with national organizations like Keep America Beautiful (kab.org) and local or countywide groups, as well as social media sites for group activities.

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