How to Make Ocean-Friendly Purchases: Clothes and Food

June 22, 2020

From warming oceans, to acidification, to declining fish populations, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed about the state of the marine environment. Many of us want to do our part to conserve and protect the seas but might not know where to start. Luckily, even considerations in your day-to-day purchases can make a difference. 



If seafood is on the menu this week, check out what fisheries are sustainable in your region. Depending on where the fish is sourced from, the sustainability rating will vary among different populations. Do some research before you leave the house on the most and least sustainable fisheries in your grocery store.

Use seafood guides from Ocean Wise and the Monterey Bay Aquarium to help you out.

Next time you walk down the seafood aisle, look at what you’re buying before throwing it in your basket. Check where the fish is from and think about if it had to travel across an ocean or a country to get to you. Buying local, or closer to home will help lower the carbon footprint of the food you’re purchasing. 


If a company is making environmental efforts, they will want to tell you about it. Check for a sustainability “stamp” by a third party such as the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) or Ocean Wise. I urge you to do your own research on these organizations to better understand what standards they use, but seeing their stamps is a good start.




Another time to think before you buy is when you’re looking for new clothes. From growing and creating new materials, to chemical dyes, to shipping brand new items across oceans, new clothes have a huge impact on the environment. Luckily, you can reduce your impact and stay on trend. For example, check out a thrift store and give new life to pre-owned clothing. While they won’t have everything in all colours and sizes, you’ll find unique pieces that are often better quality than what you would have paid for in a fast fashion store. You can even buy second-hand clothing online with communities like VarageSale and ThredUp.

Generally, it is better to choose natural materials over synthetic ones – especially for clothes that will be washed frequently.

Another important factor in fashion sustainability is the material. Generally, it is better to choose natural materials over synthetic ones – especially for clothes that will be washed frequently. With each run through the washing machine, a piece of clothing will lose some of its fibres which are washed into our waterways and oceans. Synthetic fibers from non-natural materials, such as polyester, nylon, and spandex, are a type of microplastic. These fibres have been estimated to be about 35% of the global release of microplastics in the oceans. Though more research is needed to understand their impact, these microplastics have been found in tons of organisms throughout the ocean food web and are considered a threat to marine species.



Written By: Lili Wilson