Green Your Beach Day: Where to Go
Before you lather on the sunscreen and load up the cooler, take a minute to learn a bit about your destination. Sand and sea can be filthy things--full of bacteria, chemicals, and who knows what else. They can also be part of fragile ecosystems, providing habitat for endangered or threatened species. Fortunately, knowing just a few key facts can help you pick a better beach and even make your favorite one a little greener. Here are three things to look for:
Water quality: High levels of bacteria and pollution are usually caused by sewage overflows, stormwater runoff, and boat traffic. Doctors recommend staying away from the water for at least three days after a big storm and swimming at least 100 yards from storm drains. Check for the latest advisories at epa.gov.
Grooming: Tractors meant to keep sandy shorelines trash-free can destroy native plants and make a beach more vulnerable to erosion. Some beach managers take a gentler route, grooming only above the high tide mark or when sensitive animals are far from shore.
Certification: Researchers at Florida International University put the sand and water at U.S. beaches to the test last year. Check its list of certified healthy beaches to see if your local spot made the cut.
Want to find out how your state's coastline measures up? Check out the Surfrider Foundation's State of the Beach reports.
Have something to say about your favorite beach? Share your stories, tips, and ideas about beach days here.