3 Small Things You Can do to Help the Planet as a Kayaker

With large-scale challenges such as pollution and climate change making headlines around the world, the task of protecting our planet might seem intimidating – and in essence, it is. But you have to remember that it’s the little positive actions you make that drive the wheels of change. Think of yourself as small gear in a larger clock.

Simple adjustments in your lifestyle and mindset can collectively help protect our planet from further deterioration. How so? Start by finding areas in your everyday life that can contribute to a healthier planet, and make the conscious decision to change. As a kayaker, here are a few things you can do to help the planet.

  1.    Practice Catch and Release

If you love something, set it free!” Believe it or not, this popular relationship saying also applies to fishing activities. If you have respect for our planet but you’re also an angling enthusiast, you can have a bit of both worlds by practicing catch and release.

If you’re not familiar with catch-and-release fishing, it’s an increasingly popular technique of conserving native species. Whereas the fish typically ends up on the display of someone’s wall or cooked on a dining table, the catch-and-release method allows the angler to ‘catch’ the fish for sport and ‘release’ it back into the water immediately.

But what’s the point of going through the trouble of catching a fish if you’re only going to throw it back into the water shortly after? Kayakers who embrace the catch and release technique do so for a couple of reasons. For one, it helps prevent overharvesting as angling activities increase – hence protecting the fishing habitats. When done responsibly, releasing marine life also helps maintain ecological balance by boosting the populations.

However, catch and release is only effective when done correctly – i.e., minimal physical harm and stress to the fish.

  •          Ensure you use an appropriate fishing gear for a targeted species to prevent unnecessary exhaustion and stress due to prolonged fighting.
  •          It’s also highly advisable to avoid artificial baits/scents and instead use barbless hooks to reduce injury.
  •          When handling the catch, take special care not to cause stress or harm – especially around the eyes and gills.
  •          The key to an effective catch-and-release technique is setting the fish free as fast and gently as possible. Place it in the water headfirst, ensuring it’s not fatigued or injured.
  1.    Pick Up Plastic while Kayaking

Reports from the National Geographic show that there is an enormous body of plastic garbage floating in the Pacific Ocean as we speak. This is also the case in rivers, lakes, and oceans all over the world. According to findings by the Ocean Conservancy, a significantly large number of trashes collected in different water bodies around the world are made of plastic. This includes shopping bags, bottles, bottle caps, food wrappers, and cigarette buds. Much of this trash is the result of improper disposal and littering.

The challenge with plastics is their non-biodegradability and widespread use. When in water bodies, small plastics such as bottle caps of food wrappings can be swallowed by animals causing life-threatening physical harm. They also leach toxic chemicals into the surrounding environment, damaging flora and fauna. Besides, they’re an eyesore to the natural beauty of the great outdoors.

The littering in water bodies is so rampant that the European Union recently banned single-use plastics such as shopping bags and cutlery. While such legislative measures help curb the future use of plastics, there are stills tons of plastic garbage in our waterways. As a kayaker who is attuned to environmental conservation, it’s up to you to reduce the impact by picking up plastic while kayaking. This serves to educate the masses and raise awareness on the harm caused by plastic – often inspiring others to shun single-use plastics.

  1.    Bag It Yourself – Stop Using Plastic Bags

Did you know that we use up to 1 trillion plastic bags annually? To meet this demand, the production of plastics consumes approximately 10% of the world’s total oil supply. Surprisingly, Americans only recycle 1 in every 200 bags – while the rest makes its way into the oceans, waterways, streets, and trash sites. With this in mind, below are a few ways to minimize the use of plastic bags.

  •          Say no to plastic bags in your local retail or grocery. By declining a plastic bag, you statistically reduce the demand for plastics – and collectively, it may have a significant impact.
  •          If you already have a plastic bag, create a habit of reusing it as often as possible. You can also think of creative and responsible ways to use bags such as in art projects or as garbage can liners.
  •          Recycle plastic bags by dropping them off in designated locations.
  •          Bag it yourself – carry around a reusable bag (e.g. woven) for your errands.

Remember, protecting the planet starts with you! Be mindful of the surrounding environment and take proactive action to conserve the waterways, flora, and fauna that make your kayaking trip magical.

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