Recycling away from home can be tricky, but is just as, if not more so, important that recycling at home. Recycling is key to making sure that materials do not end up in our ocean or in a landfill where they will stay forever! Especially when it comes to marketable materials like metal and non-biodegradable materials like plastics. First thing is first, though - reduce or better yet eliminate the single use plastics like coffee cup lids, straws, and plastic water bottles (amongst other things). Travel with a reusable metal bottle or use the same plastic bottle over and over while on your vacation. Bring a bamboo or metal straw if you must or ask or no straw - I always feel like I will poke my eye out anyway with straws. Don't use plastic bags - they blow. Bring a reusable bag and use it. Don't except plastic bags - you don't need them. When you do have something that you need to get rid of, like paper or a can or a bottle, find a recycle bin. If there are no recycle bins available, hold on to it until you find one. Most hotels have recycling, it is just behind the scenes. Ask! So you have waste reduction covered, how about litter. We all know that litter is all around us. It is in parking lots, ditches, on the beach, and for my scuba obsession mention - it is under the water as well. Why take a break from your cleanup habits when on vacation? Isn't it just as important to take care of the environment in a place you love enough to travel to? Of course it is! Bring a reusable bag that you can use for cleanups and don't forget to recycle. Track your data using the Marine Debris Tracker App even if you are on land and not close to the coast, but how could it be vacation without water (okay that was a personal note). For underwater cleanups, I like to make sure the dive shop that I rent my tanks from have recycling. This way if the location I am cleaning up does not have recycling, I can drop debris when I drop my tank. Tricks to an underwater cleanup include 1. bringing a mesh bag (Project AWARE also has great mesh bags and also bio bags for underwater cleanups), 2. bring a knife to cut line (I've recently been an entanglement victim and it is not fun, but with a knife is not as scary as it sounds), 3. focus on non-biodegradable items such as plastics, if you pickup glass bottles make sure there are no creatures living in or on them - if so leave it - glass is just silca (sand) - it'll be okay right where it is, 4. stay buoyant - don't let your bag drag the ocean floor - you could damage reef, etc., 5. finish the dive when you cannot keep buoyant with the bag, 6. have fun - don't just focus on trash, check out the wildlife - that's what diving is all about, 7. report your findings using the Marine Debris Tracker App - be sure to track as close to the site as possible - if you are on a boat - track before you leave the site, if you are at a shore dive - track at the shoreline and better yet, if you have an underwater devise to use the tracker app - have someone track while you cleanup, 8. tell the local dive shop about your findings. This is super important. If there is a large amount of debris that you couldn't get to, they might be encouraged to do their own underwater cleanup event. Be sure to tell them about Project AWARE, although I am sure they will already know since you did your research on eco friendly and conservation conscience dive shops, 9. Blog about it, share pics and stories on FB, Twitter, and other social media outlets to encourage others. 10. Report your photos and data with the NCMDS folks here by emailing Lisa_Rider@onslowcountync.gov Happy Vacations Everyone!!