As our family trip in St. John, USVI comes to an end, I wanted to share some info on sunscreen. Being on such an incredibly lush island and now living on Cape Cod, the life of the ocean is more on my mind now than ever. Changes happening with the climate on Earth are real and the waters and life within the oceans are a huge part of the change and regulation of Earth’s homeostasis. The bleaching of the coral in our oceans is one of the many signs of the rapid changes of temperatures that is leading to the death of millions of beings. If you have yet to watch the documentary Chasing Coral, check it out and see for yourself.
When Kait and I were in Bermuda last year, we happened upon a man giving a tour of the island to a small group of people. He pulled the vehicle over to show them the aloe plant, how to eat it and use it as sunscreen. He included us in his little educational demo, which included his opinion on the cruise ships and the sunscreen all of the tourists wear and how it is killing the coral, which is a representation of dying ocean life.
Quick Aside on Cruise Ships: Though cruises are pretty fun, you may want to learn more about the environment impact these cruise ships have, as they are contributing to an extremely high carbon footprint, terrible emissions, and dumping millions of gallons of waste and fuel directly into the ocean.
“A passenger’s carbon footprint triples in size when taking a cruise and the emissions produced can contribute to serious health issues. On top of the pollution caused by their exhaust fumes, cruise ships have been caught discarding trash, fuel, and sewage directly into the ocean.”
People in European port cities are dying at younger ages and the link is being made to the air pollution from ships. One cruise ship emits as much pollution as 1 million cars. “The data collected reveals that standing on the deck of a cruise ship is similar to being in one of the world’s most polluted cities…”
Cruise ships are contributing to death of ocean life, including the life line, coral, as well as to the death of humans. But they are highly profitable and fun and convenient and give you “bang for your buck” and just so easy, so……. Read more here
Kait and I had been trying to find more non-toxic (less chemicals and more natural) sunscreens to protect our and Weston’s body, as well as sunscreens that have a lesser environmental impact. Hearing the Bermudian tell his narrative really helped push us to do so. We not only wanted to find sunscreen that uses safer ingredients, but that also comes in more sustainable packaging. So no plastic!, which we also know is helping to destroy a lot of life on Earth, especially in the oceans.
Hawaii actually has a ban on chemically based sunscreen. According to Chasing Coral’s website, these are one’s that use UV-filtering ingredients, such as oxybenzone and octinoxate, which have been linked to coral bleaching. These chemicals are found in over 3,500 sunscreen products, including Tropicana, Banana Boat, and Coppertone. The chemicals have been shown to produce similar reactions in the coral as higher water temperatures and they also create an environment that allows viruses to thrive in the coral.
So what you want to look for is the following:
1. Containers that are not plastic – so aluminum or cardboard are going to be better options. We really have to be more aware as a society about the plastic we use, but not only plastic, all single use products and items. We have to stop it because it is destroying us in many ways.
2. Natural Ingredients that do not include oxybenzone and octinoxate
4. Mineral Based sunscreen – these particles sit on top of the skin to block harmful rays instead of being absorbed into the skin.
3. Non-nano Zinc Oxide – which is an all natural protection against UVA and UVB light rays.
– “Non-nano” means the ingredient particles must be above 100 nanometers in size so they cannot be ingested by corals.
4. Reef-safe labels – but still check the ingredients.
The following are three sunscreens or “muds” that we chose to purchase and use. Two are for adults and the other is for babies and kids. The muds tend to be focused on the face, but we use them all over. The EiR Surf Mud is not as thick or pasty as the Surfyogis, so I like to use EiR that on my body and the Surf Yogi on my face. You will still get sun, so reapplying is necessary and just wearing clothes or being shaded most of the time is ideal.
Sun protecting clothing is also another option, but we have to be very careful about the clothing we purchase because the process of dying clothes and manufacturing them, as well as the actual fiber of the clothing can be wildly detrimental to the Earth. Unfortunately, most UV protectant clothing is polyester, which is plastic. Polyester made from recycled plastic would be the lesser of two evils. Buying second-hand is most ideal.
It is important to understand the products we are choosing to use and how they affect us and the environment around us. These things are so easy to change, it just takes a little effort to educate ourselves to make better decisions. We are part of the environment, so when we contribute to the death of life like coral, we are contributing to our own destruction.