How To Bring The Sea To Your Life—Sustainably & Wherever You Live

June 14, 2021


I grew up on an island in the Salish Sea. It was glorious, and the way people lived there was very sustainable—both purposefully and accidentally. Living by the sea comes with a lot of incidentally eco-friendly habits. People pick up litter by collecting sea glass, which is a favorite pastime of those living by the ocean. They forage for kelp and seaweed, making themselves a more connected part of the ecosystem. They are in tune with the tides and moon cycles by keeping track of the water levels and when is best to go swimming. The list goes on, because out of all of the regions to live in, the sea is probably the most immersive place. Not only is one exposed to the oceanic habitats, but you’re also more exposed to the weather. Walking along the beach doesn’t require equipment (or pollution). The beach is accessible for those who live by it, so it’s an ecosystem that is especially inviting for humans. This way of life is very in touch with nature, and generally sustainable.

Unfortunately, not everyone gets to live by the ocean. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t ways to bring the sea and seaside living to your own life, wherever you live. Incorporating this way of life into your own is a great way to get in touch with a new landscape, live more intentionally, and find new ways to be sustainable.

Instead of collecting sea glass…

support artisans who incorporate sea glass into their work, if you don’t live somewhere that has sea glass. Buy sea glass earrings from jewelry makers who collect it locally to them, or purchase a sea glass necklace to give as a gift to someone who loves the sea. You can also buy sea glass from people who live near the sea and collect it. Use it to make sun catchers for your home, or make mosaics with it. This is a great way to have the spirit of the ocean in your living space, as well as repurpose litter to make it into something beautiful.

Instead of foraging for kelp and seaweed…

use a moisturizer that has seaweed in it, or a toner that has kelp powder in it. This can be a mindful way to feel connected to the sea, put some intention into your skincare routine, and bond with nature. You can even purchase wildcrafted kelp powder online from those who live near the sea (and who collect it sustainably), and you can make your own body lotion with it. If you’d rather have some to snack on, try to buy from seaside artisans who roast and salt theirs locally.

Instead of using the sea for beach waves…

purchase sea salt from seaside artisans, and make your own sea spray. Pour some into a spray bottle of water (along with essential oils that remind you of the sea), and spritz it on your hair for beach waves. This is more sustainable than buying something unnatural in plastic, and it can help you feel united with the ocean.


Instead of collecting salt…

use authentic sea salt to season your food! Try sprinkling some on some mango for a tropical, coastal nod to the sea.

Instead of taking an ocean swim…

take a bath with bath salts. Listen to ocean sounds, put seashells or other found objects from your beach trips around the tub, and ground yourself in thoughts of your relationship to this ecosystem. You can even light a candle that’s scented like the sea (like coconut or coastal oranges).

Instead of getting in-season fruit drinks at a beach-side bar

make your own margaritas with sea salt at home. Use fruits that remind you of the sea, and use blue glass to represent the ocean. Avoid plastic, and sit somewhere in the sunshine.

Instead of gathering seashells for natural home decor

gather natural elements that are local to you for eco-friendly decorations. If you live near woods, gather pinecones to paint or sticks to make hanging art with. If you live near a lake or rivers, gather stones to arrange around the house. If you have seashells from vacations you’ve taken in the past, use them to decorate your home rather than buying something plastic or mass-produced.

Instead of taking a walk on the beach for exercise…

go out for a walk near a body of water near you, wearing clothes that remind you of the ocean. Consider wearing the colors of the sea when it’s your favorite beach weather, any sea glass or seashell jewelry that you’ve made, or sandals. If you don’t live near a body of water exercise in another minimal way that doesn’t require equipment or pollutants (many exercise equipment pieces are made with toxic materials). That can capture the spirit of walks on the beach, and that’s the important thing.


Instead of drinking coconut water…

buy a coconut and crack it yourself, to enjoy the flavor of seaside living without buying the water in plastic. Drink it straight, or put it in a tropical smoothie to further connect to the sea.

Instead of memorizing local tides…

do moon rituals and get in touch with the phases of the moon. You can do this with witchcraft rituals, or simply just being aware of when the full moons, half moons, and new moons are each month. Think about things you can do daily to feel connected to the moon. Consider wearing shapes of the moon, wearing colors that feel lunar, using biodegradable glitter in your makeup, lighting candles with moons carved in them, or listening to music that sounds like the night to you.


However you decide to bring the sea to your life, think about your relationship to it. How does it make you feel? What images come to your mind? Use those as inspiration for how you go about incorporating the eco-friendly oceanside lifestyle into your own life. This could include just listening to ocean noises, painting the sea, or using any of the listed tips above. However best suits your life, just try to embody the spirit of the ocean without letting your physical location get in the way. Everyone should be able to enjoy it.

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Photo: Emily Iris Degn

Emily Iris Degn
Emily Iris Degn is an environmental travel writer, editor, passionate eco-journalist, professional artist, and published eco-poet. She is from the San Juan Islands, but currently lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains with her incredible partner and beloved sea shell collection. You can find her in many spaces on Instagram: @emilyirisdegn @happyvegansfeed @emfallstoearth @emilydegnart OR at


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