It’s summer holiday season, and even if we all love a good sunbath, we have to keep in mind that most sunscreens have negative impact on the environment, and especially on coral reefs.
Tuvalu, the forth smallest country in the world and located halfway between Australia and Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean, has already banned sunscreens that contain two chemical ingredients known to kill coral reefs: Oxybenzone and Octinoxate. Tuvalu is on the frontline of climate change, and is already seeing devastating effects, including sea-level rise, coastal erosion, droughts and hotter annual temperatures. Nowadays sunscreen is absent from every shop and supermarket in the capital of Funafuti. We believe that in near future other countries will follow suit.
The good news is that there is a solution for us eco-conscious beachgoers to reduce our environmental impact, for example, swapping out those chemical sunscreens for what are known as physical sunscreens — ones with mineral ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide that reflect the sun off your skin, without threatening the environment.
The main difference between chemical and physical sunscreen is the type of filter. Chemical filters are not biodegradable (such as Octinoxate or Oxybenzone), therefore leading to bleaching, damaged DNA and abnormal skeleton growth in coral. Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide on the other hand are physical filters. In this case the filtering action is carried out by minerals that reflect UV.
If coral reefs die, we will have lost a vital ecosystem.?Humans might be responsible for this contamination, but we’re also capable of helping heal these underwater ecosystems.?