A couple years ago, former U.S. Olympic swimmer Carly Geehr admitted, “Nearly 100% of elite competitive swimmers pee in the pool. Regularly.” That’s either revolting or a major job perk, depending on your perspective, but at least pools have chlorine to sterilize your fellow swimmers’ liquid (and, ugh, solid) waste. When you’re at the beach, a golden shower through osmosis is just one more reason to be terrified of the ocean.
The good news is that, if you’re the pisser instead of the pissed-upon, you don’t need to feel guilty — at least in terms of environmental impact. According to this animated science lesson from the American Chemical Society, pee has no major ecological effect:
Fish won’t mind drinking your expelled Starbucks, the video explains, because urine is “95% water” and sodium chloride, which the ocean has in abundance. Also, your bladder isn’t that spacious compared to a whale’s: “If every person one earth [peed] into the Atlantic, there’d be just 60 parts per trillion.”
Finally, the nitrogen in urine “combines with water to produce ammonium, which feeds ocean plant life.” You’re just showing thanks to the ocean kingdom for all that sushi. Pay it forward! Spray it forward!
That said, the narrator warns us NOT to “pee in protected areas like reefs” or ponds/lakes because it might harm a fragile ecosystem. And even if treating every other beachgoer like a human urinal doesn’t technically pollute the planet, it still makes you an undeniable sack of s–t.