Protecting your skin from the harmful rays of the sun is very important. However, you shouldn't be doing so at the expense of nature.
In 2015, it was estimated that over 14,000 tons of sunscreen end up in coral reefs across the world causing irreparable damage. Of course, sunscreen isn't the only culprit to the damage of coral reefs; ocean warming, sewage dumping, and agricultural runoff have caused serious harm too. However, banning the use of harmful chemicals is something that swimmers can control.
Recently, Hawaii became the first state to pass a bill banning sunscreens that contain chemicals believed to harm coral reefs. The legislation prohibits the distribution of sunscreens made up of the chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate, which scientists found as significant contributors to coral bleaching. When finally signed by the governor, the new law will take into effect on January 1, 2021.
Harmful ingredients to avoid
Before buying sunscreens prior to your beach trip, check the ingredients of the products you're considering. Stay away from sunscreens consisting of oxybenzone, octinoxate, and parabens.
Oxybenzone can be toxic in various ways. It can cause damage to the DNA and lead to cancer and developmental abnormalities, it can cause deformations in junevile corals, and it leads to coral bleaching.
As an alternative to toxic sunscreens, you should look for products developed with non-nano zinc oxide. Non-nano titanium dioxide is also safe for the environment.
Moreover, you might want to opt for sunscreens with lower SPF. Higher SPF (specifically above SPF 30) is more harmful to the environment because they typically contain a higher amount of chemicals.
Another way that you can reduce the harmful impact of sunscreens to coral reefs and marine life and at the same time be able to protect your skin is by investing more on high-quality sunwear and sun accessories. Ensure that your clothing has a UPF rating so as to prevent the sun's rays from penetrating the fabric.