While it might seem hard to make a difference in the world, especially when the biggest contributors to environmental issues like Dead Zones and climate change are large corporations and people in positions of power or fame, there are many things you can do to help combat these issues, and many regular people working together can make the change we want to see in the world.
It is also especially important to remember that you do not have to be perfect! Try out the things on this list when and if you can but remember being perfect is never the goal, and being better and making progress is what we should all strive for every day. If you do not have the money, time, or space in your lifestly to adopt all of the practices on this list, that is okay. There are many other things you can do that don't require any money or take a lot of time!
Some things you can do to combat Dead Zones:
Shop locally - especially for food products, shopping locally and from small farms and businesses helps to combat industrial agriculture, where the overuse of fertilizer is the leading cause of Dead Zones. This also helps to reduce carbon emissions by buying less food products that require fossil fuels to transport. These products are likely also healthier, too!
Eat sustainably - much of the food grown in industrial agriculture never lands on a human plate and is instead used as animal feed for the often brutal and inhumane meat industry. Try reducing your meat intake and encourage others to try as well. It is okay to have meat every now and then, but eating excessive amounts only encourages the growth of the meat industry. When you buy meat, try to buy from humane and sustainable organizations that utilize eco-friendly practices and treat their animals well.
Don't use fertilizer on your lawn - if you have a lawn, try to manage it in a way that is better for the environment by not watering it or using fertilizer on it. Even better, use local wildlife to cover your yard rather than grass. This greatly reduces your carbon footprint and will also help with Dead Zones, as most lawn fertilizer and grass maintenance products are washed off by rain and become runoff anyways. Planting local wildflowers also helps support pollinators!
Manage yard waste properly - if you have any yard waste such as grass clippings, branches, leaves, or other organic waste, make sure it goes to a place that can properly dispose of it, or ideally, compost it. Yard waste should not go in the trash and if your neighborhood has a yard waste pickup service, look into where they take it and what is done with it. Try not to let yard waste bags sit out in the rain, as any chemicals left on the waste or worse, the waste itself, could be washed away into sewer or rainwater collection drains, carrying these pollutants with them.
Manage sewage and animal waste properly - look up information about your local sewage system or plant to make sure they are disposing of it properly by not dumping it into water and sanitizing properly. Also make sure to clean up after any pets and never leave waste on the ground. You can try to implement eco-friendly ways of dealing with pet waste, like biodegradable or paper bags, flushing, or even composting! Some neighborhoods have community compost bins or services, and there are many resources online for getting started with composting, even if you live in the city.
Dispose of cat litter properly - If you have a cat or another animal that uses litter, be very careful to dispose of the litter itself carefully, as it has been shown that litter can decrease dissolved oxygen, the very thing that makes a Dead Zone on a large scale. Especially if a trash bag of litter rips, the litter can be carried by runoff into waterways and bring harm to that ecosystem.
Reach out to local government officials - reaching out to local lawmakers and other forms of governmental representation is a great way to make sure your voice is heard and expand your influence from not only your life but also on the road to making bigger change. If there is an upcoming election or meeting, contact these people online (with permission and/or supervision from a trusted adult if you are a minor) and communicate with them what you think needs to be done.
VOTE! - voting is so important for many other issues, not just Dead Zones or climate change. If you are old enough, register to vote and make sure you vote on voting day! If you are not yet old enough to vote, make sure adults in your life are voting. Voting is one of the best ways to make large-scale change and is essential in combating environmental issues that are most heavily influenced by large corporations.
Use public transportation - while not everywhere has good public transportation systems, use them whenever you can. This helps cut down on emissions greatly and is often more convenient when in the city. If you do not have access to public transport, try carpooling with friends or family to reduce the number of vehicles on the road and fossil fuels needed to transport people.
Drive an electric or hybrid vehicle - not everyone can afford an electric or hybrid vehicle, but with gas prices increasing and models becoming more common, they are much more accessible than in the past, but carpooling, using public transport, walking, and biking are all great alternatives to gas powered personal cars that also help save money.
Electric and hybrid vehicles are great alternatives for gasoline-powered vehicles. While they present problems of their own with sourcing materials, they are a good stepping stone for the present where we need to focus on phasing out fossil fuels. They also help marine ecosystems by reducing the amount of gas that is carried by runoff into water and the demand for oil.
Use eco-friendly banking services - banks are actually some of the worst companies in terms of carbon emissions and usage of fossil fuels. Check where you or the adults in your life have their money stored, and make sure your investments are not being used to power the fossil fuel industry. There are many of smaller scale eco-friendly banks that offset carbon emissions by planting trees or other methods, and make sure your money is not used to destroy the planet.
Consider your energy consumption - look into your energy provider and see where your electricity comes from. If you can, switch to renewable energy sources or install systems like solar panels and rain water collection systems for your home. Even if you cannot do these things, try to reduce your energy consumption by turning off and or unplugging electronic devices when not in use, using energy efficient LED lights, using less heating and air conditioning when you can, and more.
Look into reusing greywater - greywater is water that has already been used for something like washing clothes or dishes, and while this might sound gross, there are many ways to cleanly and safely reuse greywater, which is a great way to save water especially if you live somewhere where water is scarce. Depending on your tap water condition, what it was used for, how it is treated, and what you are using it for, there are many ways you can put greywater to good use and save water. One example is using water from washing clothes, dishes, or for showers to flush your toilet. While the water may not be considered perfectly clean anymore, it works just fine as toilet water, and this saves water and money. Look into local or online resources and speak with your family about reusing greywater.
Boycott environmentally detrimental companies - this can be really hard and some companies or brands are almost impossible to avoid, but when you can, try not to support large companies that make up most of the world's carbon emissions. Support organizations you know you can trust and spread the word about companies that do not make an effort to implement sustainable business practices.
Support activism organizations - even if you do not have the money for donation, engaging with online content for organizations that have more power to enact global change helps them to better accomplish their mission. Volunteering locally is also a great way to make an impact on your community!
Speak up and inspire others - teaching people to care about the environment is so much more important than just giving people a list of rules of what they should and shouldn't do to support the environment. People will only actually commit to really making change when they truly want to and see why it is so necessary. This is often why large corporations, politicians, and even celebrities have huge negative impacts on the environment: they care more about things like money, convenience, or their image than protecting the planet and the future of everyone on it. Talk with people you know and encourage them to learn about environmental issues and how they can make a difference. Find something you really care about and devote your time and effort to fighting for the future and educate and encourage others along the way. It is true that the average person does not have the power alone to make large-scale environmental change, but together, we do. Who knows, maybe you'll end up making a game and so much else to go along with it, too. :)
Climate change has a big impact on Dead Zones, and trash pollution can play a role too. Pollution and climate change are very important environmental issues and while actions combatting them may not always tie into Dead Zones, here are some things you can do to improve your impact on the environment:
avoid single use plastics
reuse things whenever possible before recycling
buy second hand clothing and thrift
clean up trash
reduce dependence on gasoline-powered vehicles
support local and small businesses
plant native plants or a pollinator garden
attend environmental rights demonstrations or protests
reduce food waste
dispose of trash properly
respect and support local green spaces like parks
and many more!