Did you know that your sunscreen could be killing the coral reefs? Many sunscreens are petroleum based and therefore non-biodegradable and toxic. Chemicals in most sunscreens are known to activate viruses in the algae on coral reefs, causing the algae to die and leave the coral unable to produce energy for the surrounding ecosystem. Slowing down this process is as simple as changing your sunscreen.
When purchasing sunscreen, read the label. Avoid products with chemicals like Octocrylene, Butylparaben, Octylmethoxycinnamate, and Benzophenone-3 that do not breakdown in water. The same principle applies when you shop for food: if a 5th grader can’t pronounce an ingredient, it’s probably not natural and we all know that the fewer processed ingredients we put in our bodies and in our water, the better.
It is estimated that 5,000 tons of sunscreen gets washed into our oceans every year. So even if you think the small amount you put on your family may be negligible, it adds up. Simply doing your homework while shopping for sun protection can help save these unique ecosystems from erosion. Therefore, to maintain the vacation destinations that we so avidly seek to visit, all we have to do is make conscious decisions. A simple change in the sunscreen aisle is all it takes to make sure our coral reefs are around for generations to come.