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It has been estimated that 4,000 to 6,000 tons of sunscreen washes off swimmers into the ocean every year, which contributes to the death of important algae that inhabit coral. After sunscreen is applied and you enjoy a nice swim to cool off, some sunscreen washes off in the water. It has been shown that chemicals in conventional sunscreens have caused damage to coral reefs, interfering with the natural oceanic ecosystem.
According to a study published in the January 2008 issue of Environmental Health Perspectives, four common chemical sunscreen ingredients activate viruses that kill an important symbiotic algae that feeds coral through photosynthesis (octinoxate, oxybenzone and 4-methylbenzylidene camphor—and the preservative butylparaben). Without the algae, coral turns white and dies (also known as ‘coral bleaching’), therefore decreasing the natural habitat for many underwater creatures, and contributing to an overall weakening of the ocean’s ecosystem. Scientists at the Polytechnic University of Marche in Italy estimates 10 percent of coral reefs worldwide are threatened by sunscreen-induced bleaching.
Thankfully, not all sunscreen is made using chemicals! There are natural ways to protect the skin without causing damage to reefs. As a company, Goddess Garden is dedicated to providing the highest quality, gentle sunscreen that is biodegradable and reef safe.
What does it mean for a sunscreen to be biodegradable? Biodegradable sunscreen is exactly what it sounds like; sunscreen that dissolves naturally into water, or earth, without leaving behind harmful chemicals. According to the Federal Trade Commission’s Environmental Marketing Guide: “Claims that a product is “biodegradable” mean that the materials will break down and return to nature within a reasonably short period of time.” Because Goddess Garden sunscreen is mineral-based, using only non-nano zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as active ingredients, these products do not contribute to coral bleaching.
In addition to choosing a mineral sunscreen, there are many other measures you can take to help protect coral reefs and prevent coral bleaching. A few actions you can take include:
- Read your sunscreen label carefully—many so-called “natural” brands contain chemicals ingredients scientists say cause coral to bleach and to die.
- Choose a biodegradable sunscreen whose ingredients break down in seawater (with zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide).
- Cover up with a hat or clothing with an SPF rating.
If everyone chooses mineral sunscreen, we can help protect the oceans and our coral reefs. Together, we can make a difference, and save one of nature’s most precious underwater wonders!
For additional information on this subject, check out the Environmental Working Group’s article: Chemical Interactions Put Coral Reefs in Danger
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