You’re heading off on your tropical vacation. Your suitcase is open, and you’re filling it with gossip mags, sun protective clothing and sunscreen. Although wearing sunscreen is a great way to protect your skin from harmful UV rays, did you know that it’s contributing to the deterioration of the world’s coral reefs?
The Downside of Oxybenzone-Containing Sunscreens
In October 2015, a team of scientists published a report indicating that oxybenzone, a common ingredient used in sunscreens, kills coral. Not only that, but the chemical alters the DNA of developing coral, preventing it from growing properly.
About 14,000 tons of sunscreen land in coral reefs annually. Even one drop of sunscreen that contains oxybenzone can cause damage, however. Reef systems in more popular tourist destinations were found to be more damaged than those in remote locations, but the damage isn’t just caused by swimmers. Wastewater that contains sunscreen can harm coral reefs too.
Why We Need to Protect Coral Reefs
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, coral reefs are among the most precious ecosystems on Earth.
• Provide food for marine life that sustains more than 1 billion people worldwidde,
• Contain organisms that can be used for medicines and remedies,
• Offer recreational opportunities for humans,
• Protect shorelines from erosion, and
• Create sand for beaches.
What’s a Girl to Do?
It can be confusing to hear that the best thing we can do to protect our skin from the sun is to slather on sunscreen daily, but that very same layer of protection is hurting one of our most valuable resources. Some tourist destinations are even prohibiting swimmers from wearing oxybenzone-containing sunscreens, but that doesn’t mean that you have to go unprotected.
Eco-friendly sunscreen that doesn’t contain oxybenzone can be more effective at blocking UVA and UVB rays, and it doesn’t destroy delicate marine environments. CōTZ sunscreen effectively prevents UV rays from accessing your skin, and it doesn’t contain harmful chemicals, either. The Environmental Working Group also maintains a list of sunscreens that don’t harm the environment.
There’s Another Option in Sun Protection
SPF isn’t the only way to protect your skin from the sun. UPF, the type of shielding that’s found in sun protective clothing, is the most effective way to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays.
If you’re going to be snorkeling along a coral reef, you’ll stay protected from the sun with sun protective clothing as a barrier anyway. Wearing 50+UV swimwear with a rashguard and swim leggings can keep almost your entire body protected without making you worry about reapplying or chemicals ending up in the reef. On your next offshore adventure, wear sun protective clothing with 50+UV protection to save your skin and the Earth.