“There are thousands of sunscreens out there, and we have one reef.” – Key West Mayor Teri Johnston
Just a few weeks ago Key West banned the use and sale of sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate from within city limits. The mayor of Key West, Teri Johnston, hopes that people will make wise choices for themselves, their families and our environment in order to protect the Great Florida Reef which is the largest reef in the continental U.S. She urges the people of the Key West to make reef-safe choices when it comes to sunscreen, saying, “There are thousands of sunscreens out there, and we have one reef.” This ban is similar to the law passed in Hawaii that prohibits the distribution of sunscreens that contain chemicals scientists have found to contribute to coral bleaching. Key West’s ban will begin in January 2020.
It’s estimated that between 6-14,000 tons of sunscreen wash off people and go into reef areas every year.
Another ban on nano-sunscreens that will come into effect in 2020 is for Palau, located in the western part of the Pacific Ocean. It will be the first country to enact a widespread ban on nano-sunscreens in an effort to protect their coral reefs. Their ban will also not allow the sale or use of those sunscreens that contain the reef-harming chemicals, oxybenzone and octinoxate. These sunscreens contain nanoparticles that are dangerous to coral reefs because they are so small that the coral can actually ingest these nanoparticles, resulting in coral bleaching.t All sunscreens contain nanoparticles, but the particles need to be bigger than 100 nanometers to be considered “reef-friendly”. Of course there are many other factors that contribute to coral bleaching; sewage dumping, ocean warming and agricultural runoff. One way that we as beach-goers can help is to be mindfulf of what chemicals we put into the ocean.
At UV Skinz we support eco-friendly sun protection. We know that having fun in the sun without the worry of sunburns is just as important as protection the oceans we enjoy. We are proud to say that we have had the environment in mind right from the start. Our uv-protective clothing not only blocks out 98% of harmful UV rays, but also does so without harmful chemicals. There are reef-safe alternative sunscreens like mineral sunblocks that provide sun protection with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
You can find many options of reef-safe sunscreens under Accessories on our website. TruKid Sunny Days Daily SPF 30+ Sunscreen is mineral based and provides broad sprectrum protection that is eczema safe–a great one for the whole family. For a quick on-the-go touch up try MDSolar Sciences Mineral Sunscreen Stick SPF 40. It’s perfect for face, lips and hands that is also water-resistant for up to 80 minutes.
Using one of these “non-nano” sunscreens (meaning that they contain nanoparticles that are too big for coral to ingest) is one step you can take to protecting and ending the damage to our coral reefs. Keep in mind that sun protection doesn’t rest solely on sunscreens that need to be reapplied often and can be forgotten. UPF 50+ sun apparel is really the best approach to staying safe in the sun for both our skin as well as the environment.
From a conservation point of view, if you wear a sun shirt, you are reducing the sunscreen load by 50%.
UV Skinz protects you from the devastating effects of the sun while also protecting the environment from the potentially devastating effects of human interaction. “UV Skinz are free of harsh chemicals that can not only irritate sensitive skin…” says UV Skinz founder, Rhonda Sparks, “…but also, over time, and especially in marine locations with heavy tourist traffic, cause damage to sensitive animal and plant life. While our main goal is to keep babies, children and adults UV damage-free, we’ve always been proud that our products play a part in protecting the outdoor environment in which we love to play.”