According to the National Geographic, about 14,000 tons of sunscreen end up in our oceans each year. That’s an alarming figure considering how little it takes for chemicals in the sunscreen to cause toxic effects to our fragile ecosystem.
And it's as little as a drop of water in an olympic pool. (Time)
As such, the number one culprit to the destruction of coral reefs is the same thing that we believe is protecting our skin from the hazards of the UV rays.
Sunscreen has become a skin staple and as a skin care enthusiast, I would pretty much agree that it is an essential part of our daily skincare routine.
Experts advise us to wear sunscreen when we're going out in the sun for more than 15 minutes between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Not only that, recent studies claim that UVA rays pass through a glass which means that we're not safe from UV damage even when we're indoors.
And what about those cool, cloudy, overcast days?
Skin Cancer Foundation claimed that up to 80 percent of the sun’s ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays can pass through clouds. So yes, UV protection is still a must.
Sunscreen does so well protecting our skin from sun damage, premature ageing, skin cancer, and other life threatening consequences. However, chemicals such as oxybenzone, Butylparaben, Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate and 4-methylbenzylidene camphor commonly found in sunscreen are scientifically proven to cause damage and contribute to the destruction of the coral reefs. --
-- ALSO KNOWN AS our marine life's home; the ones protecting the global environment by absorbing carbon dioxide that would otherwise contribute to global warming.
Concentrations of the said chemicals are threatening the ecosystem which is exactly why sunscreens are infamous in posing significant ecological threat. Worst, even if we don't swim, this gunk will eventually end up in the ocean as we wash them down the drain. Yikes!
See what we did there?
There's no way my environmentalist self will approve of this.
Despite the list of concerns we should worry about (threats to coral reefs and marine life, pollution, climate change, and long term detrimental effects to our health -- Read: Are your skin care products really taking good care of you?) researchers are not advocating that we completely shun sunscreens in our skin care routine.
Instead, we are urged to carefully consider, which from the array of brands in the market, should we pick and use on our skin. More often than not, big brands offer false security and protection from the sun. But the good news is, there are alternatives that are safer and better for us, for the corals, and for the whole of the environment. All we have to do is look around and single out chemicals that sound otherwordly. To be specific, we are advised against oxybenzone, Butylparaben, Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate and 4-methylbenzylidene camphor as these are the number one offenders in the destruction of our coral reefs.
Ergo, mineral sunscreens are a safer option. Known to formulate titanium oxide or zinc oxide as an ingredient for sun protection, this kind has not been found to harm reefs.
And with its widespread availability on the market, we can now prevent sun damage, premature ageing and skin cancer without harming the planet.
Wellness Mama shared a list of natural mineral sunscreens considered as safe by EWG and they are as follows:
While most is not available in the Philippines locally, I found The Honest Co. mineral sunscreen at The Green Company. They have branches in Pasig, San Juan, and Banawe.
Next time you find yourself needing a new tube, #ScreenYourSunscreen and protect yourself, protect the environment.