Protecting the Baltic Sea – What can I do?

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PROTECTING THE BALTIC SEA

(A publication jointly produced by a number of organizations working for the protection of the Baltic Sea)

Our Baltic Sea is in poor health

Massive blooms of blue-green algae, excessive growths of seaweed on shores and slimed fishing nets are all signs of eutrophication. Invasive alien species and the increasing density of shipping traffic, including huge oil tankers, also threaten our sensitive shores and islands. Without your help, the unique brackish waters of the Baltic will remain in danger.
The state of Baltic Sea is worsened by pollution from our homes, traffic, food production and industries. Climate change is increasing the amounts of nutrients entering the sea in runoff from the surrounding land.
The future of the Baltic Sea is not only in the hands of politicians. Even small actions count, and every one of us can help.

At home and country cottage

I make sure that sewage does not contaminate water. Sewage entering the sea increases nutrient concentrations and worsens eutrophication. The best solutions apply technologies that promote the recycling of nutrients and keep sewage out of streams, rivers and lakes. Several suitable solutions for sewage treatment in sparsely populated areas are presented at the end of this booklet. Dry compost toilets are good options in rural areas.
I use water sparingly, and make sure that any water used in the sauna does not contaminate water courses. I also avoid cleaning rugs in places where the soapy water would end up in rivers and the sea.
I use fertilizers sparingly in my garden, and use natural fertilizers instead of artificial products. I avoid using unnecessary pesticides.
I use electricity sparingly, and turn off unneeded lights and appliances. I buy green electricity to support the use of renewable energy sources. When buying electronic appliances I choose energy-efficient models.
Require quality from your local water company. Effectively cleaned waste waters are loading less.

In the kitchen

I favour locally-grown food and produce that is in season whenever possible. Winter greenhouse cultivation and the transportation of food for long distances burden the environment unnecessarily. By buying local food I also support local businesses.
I buy organic food products. Recycling natural nutrients between livestock farming and crop cultivation is the most efficient way to keep farmland fertile. Organic farmers do not use artificial fertilizers and pesticides, since their production consumes a lot of energy and their use burdens the environment in many ways.
I eat less meat. According to dietary recommendations, we only need to obtain a small proportion of our nutrition from meat. Meat production results in high emissions of carbon dioxide and nutrients, so choosing vegetarian options can help to reduce the amounts of nutrients entering the Baltic Sea. I often cook meals with protein-rich vegetables instead of meat.

only eat fish of varieties that are sustainably fished. Many fish stocks are being overfished. I avoid buying fish of endangered species, and instead buy MSC-certified fish from stocks that are certifiably managed and utilised in ecologically sustainable ways. The WWF’s fish guide provides a useful list of fish species and stocks that are not endangered, providing good recommendations on which fish to choose. I always consider before buying farmed fish.

Shopping

I buy durable, easily reparable and recyclable goods, and use them to the very end.
I avoid cosmetics, detergents and other cleaning products containing unnecessary amounts of chemicals.
I use my own shopping bag.

On the move

I walk, bicycle, use public transport or join a car pool instead of using my own car. This reduces emissions from traffic, so the amounts of particles and nitrogen compounds entering water courses and the sea also decrease.
I spend my vacations nearby. Aviation consumes a lot of energy and worsens global warming. This leads to more intense storms, heavier rainfall and higher nutrient runoff – even here in Finland. Instead of flying I travel by train or bus whenever possible.

On the boat

To prevent oil leaks I keep my boat and its motor in good condition.
I keep the hull of the boat free clean to reduce fuel consumption. I do not apply toxic anti-fouling paint to the boat. If possible I do not paint my boat at all, and I clean its hull by brushing it or using pressurised water.
If possible, I favor the on shore washing facilities / places with proper waste water filtering systems. I never wash the dishes directly in the sea.
I always empty out the septic tank using suitable draining equipment.

Washing and cleaning

I avoid using detergents that contain phosphates or synthetic surfactants. Natural detergents such as pine soap, vinegar and detergents marked with the Nordic Swan ecolabel are good alternatives.I use water sparingly for washing and cleaning.
I do not wash my laundry or my rugs in the Baltic Sea.

Waste disposal

I dispose of trash carefully using suitable containers and official recycling points, to ensure that I do not leave litter either on land or at sea.
I sort my wastes and compost organic wastes. Reducing the amounts of waste also reduces the burden on water systems. I take hazardous wastes to the designated reception points. I return unused medicines to a pharmacy.
I try to consume less and recycle more.

Society

I discuss environmental issues including the state of the Baltic Sea and try to influence other people including my family, friends and colleagues and urge them to act to protect the sea.
I contact politicians and other local decision-makers urging them to support actions that will help to save the Baltic Sea. I only vote for politicians who are truly prepared to take action on behalf of the Baltic Sea.
I take part in voluntary work that aims to protect the Baltic Sea. Examples include the WWF’s oil spill response forces and the efforts of many other organisations to combat marine pollution.
When possible I donate my time and resources to promote environmental protection.
I report my observations of the current state of the sea to schemes that enable contributions from the public. Such observations may concern algal blooms or water transparency measurements taken using a Secchi disk, for instance.

Outdoors

During spring and early summer I avoid areas where birds are nesting.
When spending time outdoors I do not leave any trash or other traces behind. I stay on paths and avoid damaging or disturbing plants and wildlife.
I fish for different kinds of fish, including smaller fish species like roach and perch, which are also good to eat. I fish for food, and eat what I catch; though I also observe the minimum permissible catch sizes designated for certain fish species, and return to the water any such fish that are too small.

Links
WWF:n kuluttajan kalaopas

Ympäristötietoa veneilijöille/Pidä Saaristo Siistinä

Helsingin ja Turun kaupungin Itämerihaaste

Tietoa kiinteistön jätevesien käsittelystä

Kansalaisten Itämeri-havainnot

Vesistötyötä tekeviä ympäristöjärjestöjä

Suomen luonnosuojeluliitto
Luontoliitto
Natur och Miljö

Itämeren suojeluvinkit – vihkonen