Summer is here and it’s got the temperatures to prove it.
One excellent way to cool down during the summer months is to take a cool dip in a body of water. But have you ever thought about what is washing off of you and into the water as you cool down?
Whether you are at a lake or at the beach, you need to be mindful of what you are putting into the water. You wouldn’t throw trash into the water, so why would you put harmful chemicals in the water through your sunscreen?
While sunscreen is wonderful for protecting your skin, it can be really terrible for the environment.
Chemicals in sunscreens have been linked to coral bleaching in the ocean — a horrible problem that could lead to the devastation of the vast majority of the life forms in the Earth’s oceans.
A study from Environmental Health Perspectives says that ingredients in sunscreens can promote viral infections in hard corals which might play a role in coral bleaching, especially in areas frequented by people. Chemicals in sunscreens can also be harmful to other water life, including fish. So you can see why it’s important to know what is in your sunscreen – so you can protect your skin and the environment.
In order to stay safe and protect the world’s reefs, be sure to avoid sunscreens that contain oxybenzone and retinyl palminate. These chemicals can be toxic to the environment.
I have seen coral bleaching first-hand in Belize, during a post-graduate course focused on environmental education. When snorkeling among the reefs you can definitely tell the healthy ones from the ones suffering from coral bleaching. The ones that are healthy have vibrant colors and are teaming with life. The ones that have bleaching look frail, white and not so lively. It is a very sad reality to witness.
Coral gets its color from algae living on it. When the coral gets stressed from changes such as temperature, nutrients and light it will expel the algae living on it causing the coral to lose its color and turning it white. This does not kill the coral but it is hard for them to survive a bleaching event because they are under so much stress. Reefs are vital for people as well as animals. According to the NOAA 500 million people worldwide depend on reefs. Reefs are used for fishing, tourism and new medicines. If reefs collapse then they take a lot of human activity with them including about $29.8 billion around the globe each year.
In order to further avoid harming the local environment, we were advised to purchase eco-friendly sunscreens. I found some sunscreen from Burt’s Bees and was very pleased with the protection it provided. I found it at a local chain grocery store. It was more expensive than regular sunscreens, however I would rather pay more to help lessen my personal impact on the world’s oceans and waterways. Source