Tips to save the Baltic sea

All human activity impacts the status of the Baltic Sea. Each and every one of us can help the Baltic Sea through our everyday actions, and our choices as consumers.

All human activity impacts the status of the Baltic Sea. Each and every one of us can help the Baltic Sea through our everyday actions, and our choices as consumers. Use the Baltic Sea Calculator to see how many bucketfuls of blue-green algae in the Baltic Sea are generated by you, and how, by changing your everyday choices, you could reduce their amount.

The status of the Baltic Sea does not depend only on decision-makers. Even small deeds will make a difference, and they can be performed by us all. We need to act now to save the Baltic Sea. This is how you, yes you, can help:

Shopping and at the dinner table

• Choose locally produced food that is in season. Growing food in greenhouses in the winter and transporting it over great distances create an unnecessary load to the environment. When you buy locally produced food, you also support your local businesses.
• Eat only fish that has been fished sustainably. Many of the world’s fish stocks are overfished. Choose only fish whose stocks are not under threat, such as domestic cyprinids, Baltic herring, perch, pike, and fish with the MSC label. This label guarantees that the fish has been fished in an ecologically sustainable manner. Good choices are listed in e.g. the WWF fish guidelines. Buy farmed fish only after careful consideration, since fish farming causes eutrophication.
• Eat less meat. According to nutritional recommendations, we should mostly eat plant-based foods, and only very little meat. Meat production creates voluminous carbon dioxide and nutrient discharges, and it consumes a lot of energy. When you make a vegetarian choice, you reduce the nutrient load of the Baltic Sea. In food preparation, meat can be replaced by choosing protein-rich vegetables.
• Avoid plastic packaging and plastic bags. Use your own shopping bag instead of plastic bags.
• Buy sustainable, repairable and recyclable machinery and equipment, and use them to the end of their life cycle. Avoid single-use plastic products.
• Buy used clothes whenever possible. Go for woollen clothes and organic cotton, and other natural fibres instead of fleece and synthetic fibres. With these steps, you can reduce the amount of microplastics entering the Baltic Sea.

Traffic

• Walk, cycle, choose public transportation and shared rides: by reducing the discharges from traffic, we can also diminish particulate and airborne nitrogen loads to waterways. Traffic is a significant source of microplastics and rubber.
• Take your vacation close by: flying consumes great amounts of energy and increases climate warming, leading to more storms, rainfall, and nutrient runoff also in Finland. Take a train instead of flying.

Boating and leisure

• To avoid oil leaks, take good care of your boat engine and of your boat in general.
• When servicing your boat, remember that glycol, which is used in engine cooling, is poisonous: be sure to take any leftovers to the harbour’s applicable collection point, sorting station, or waste management centre. The same rule applies to all substances used in boat maintenance, such as varnish, paint, and solvents.
• Keep the bottom of your boat clean to avoid unnecessary consumption of fuel. Avoid using poisonous paints and if possible, do not paint at all; instead, clean the bottom of the boat mechanically by brushing or with a pressure washer. Luckily, poisonous paints do not have to be used every year, and in areas that are low on salt, such as the Bothnian Bay and inland waters, they are altogether unnecessary. You can also reduce the harm caused by painting by periodically lifting your boat to dry land. Moreover, innovative mechanical and electronic solutions have been developed for boat bottom maintenance, and you can read more about them on the web pages of our sister organisation, the Keep the Archipelago Tidy Association.
• Always empty the septic tank of your boat using a sewage pump at the harbour. Do not release sewage into the sea.
• As much as you can, use the dishwashing sites on land, where your washing-up water is filtered. Do not wash dishes in the sea.
• Do not leave trash on land or sea, but take your waste to where it belongs – to a waste container or a recycling point. Sort your trash also when boating.
• Fish sustainably and alternately, going for fish that are not endangered or undersized, and eat what you fish. Do not fish only large predatory fish, but also smaller species. When prepared correctly, cyprinids are also great comestible fish. Find out what the size limits of various fish species are, and adhere to them when you fish.
• Choose boating clothes made from natural materials, such as wool and cotton. Artificial fibres such as fleece are a source of microplastics, which are harmful for waterways.
• Avoid passing through bird nesting areas in spring and early summer. Respect the rules of areas within nature reserves and national parks.
• Respect the peace of life in the archipelago. Do not damage plants, and do not stray beyond marked paths.
• Do not set up fires in the terrain: instead, use provided campfire sites and camping structures.

At home and at the summer cottage

• Avoid personal hygiene products that contain microbeads, such as toothpastes or exfoliation creams. The CosmEthics app can you help you make better choices.
• Make sure that wastewater is appropriately handled in your home. In sparsely populated areas, technologies that promote nutrient recycling are the best solution. From the waterways’ perspective, a dry toilet is a good alternative at the summer cottage.
• Demand quality from your water utility. Efficiently treated wastewaters lead to a smaller load.
• Reduce your water consumption: even though drinking water is not scarce in Finland at the moment, we should keep in mind the loss of energy caused by careless overconsumption of hot water.
• Make sure that water used in the sauna is handled appropriately, and wash rugs and do laundry so that the water used is not drained to waterways.
• Fertilize your garden in moderation, and use natural fertilizers instead of artificial ones. Avoid unnecessary pesticides, and the chemical load in waterways will decrease. Make sure that nutrient-rich matter from your garden or vegetable patch does not run off to ditches and nearby waterways.
• Avoid unnecessary chemicals also in cosmetics, housecleaning, and when doing laundry.
• Steer clear of detergents that contain phosphates or synthetic surfactants. Natural detergents, such as pine soap and vinegar, and detergents marked with the Nordic Swan ecolabel are good choices for the environment.
• Sort your waste correctly and make compost: reducing waste also reduces the load on the waterways. Make sure that hazardous waste is taken to the appropriate collection points, and take old medicines back to the pharmacy. Take plastic packaging to appropriate collection points.
• Support renewable energy production, and buy green electricity. Always turn off unnecessary electronic equipment when you leave a room. Buy only energy-efficient electronic devices.

In society

• Take part in debates and make a difference. Try to encourage the people you are close to and whom you work with to take an active interest in the wellbeing of the Baltic Sea.
• Contact the Members of Parliament from your area and the decision-makers in your municipality, and demand actions that protect the Baltic Sea. Vote only for decision-makers who are truly ready to take action for the Baltic Sea.
• Participate in voluntary work, and support foundations and organisations that work for the Baltic Sea. A €10 donation to the John Nurminen Foundation’s Clean Baltic Sea projects helps us remove 50 kg of algae from the sea. Make a donation and save a piece of the Baltic Sea.
• Make citizen observations that help monitor the status of the sea. Monitor water transparency and algae volumes, and log your observations to e.g. Meriwiki.
• Consume less, repair and recycle more.
• Get to know the other countries around the Baltic Sea, and create partnerships through which we can work together for the Baltic Sea.
• Follow research on the Baltic Sea. Share research-related news items on the Baltic Sea in social media.

Suggested links

• WWF fish guidelines: wwf.fi/kalaopas
• Environmental information for people who move on the waterways: www.pidasaaristosiistina.fi/en
• Take part in shore clean-ups: www.siistibiitsi.fi/en/front-page/
• Information on the status and protection of the Baltic Sea: www.johnnurmisensaatio.fi/en/baltic-sea-protection, www.facebook.com/johnnurmisensaatio, www.ymparisto.fi/en-US/Sea, www.facebook.com/itameri, www.itamerihaaste.net/en, www.centrumbalticum.org/en/eu_strategy_for_baltic_sea_regionstrategia.fi, www.helcom.fi
• Research on the Baltic Sea: www.bonusportal.org
• Baltic Sea game: www.splashgame.fi
• Information on e.g. algae sightings and the Baltic Sea: www.meriwiki.fi

Other environmental organisations involved in waterway work

The Finnish Association for Nature Conservation
Finnish Nature League
The Finnish Society for Nature and Environment
Keep the Archipelago Tidy Association