Written by Jo Lorenz
If you're anything like me, you'd happily spend your entire life in the ocean. The gentle feel of salt on your skin, the sunlight hitting the top of the water - bliss! Yet our addiction to the ocean is coming at a huge cost to our coral reefs and marine life.
While coral reefs rather humbly only account for less than 1% of the total area of the oceans, they still affect 25% of all marine species who have some part of their life cycle within the reefs. In other words, they are hella important to the balance of the ocean.
Photo by Milos Prelevic
Yet if average global temperatures increase by as little as 1.5 degrees Celsius, 70-90% of all coral reefs will die - and in fact, if it increases by 2 degree Celsius, 99% of all coral reefs die. Yes, 99% of ALL coral reefs. This means all marine life will be affected within the food chain. It will mean that entire species and ecosystems will cease to exist.
However, it is not just our marine life that will feel these catastrophic effects. There are currently one billion people who rely on coral reefs for their livelihoods, both people who work within the tourism or marine-related industries, as well as many of the world’s poorest people who directly use the reefs for sustenance and survival.
So what can we all do to prevent this catastrophe?
Start with what's in your beach bag! Many of the popular sunscreens we are putting on our skins each day contain toxic chemicals that are vastly contributing to coral bleaching - and when coral bleaches it means it's extremely stressed and sick, and its prognosis looks grim at best (most likely fatal).
According to the National Park Service, 14,000 tonnes of sunscreen containing harmful toxins enter coral reefs every year. 14,000 tonnes!! So if you want to stop contributing to this, then make a switch to an ocean-friendly sunscreen today. Not only will it be infinitely better for our coral reefs, as well as other marine life, it will be inexplicably better for your own health.
So, here's what you need to avoid like the plague in your sunscreens:
1) Oxybenzone and octinoxate - two chemicals recently banned in Hawaii, believed to cause coral bleaching
2) Petrolatum - or mineral oil - which takes years to biodegrade, and is known to be harmful/fatal to aquatic life
3) Titanium Dioxide - which does not biodegrade and is found to react in warm seawater to form hydrogen peroxidem, which is incredibly harmful to all sea life.
Do your research, switch to an ocean-friendly sunscreen like Soleo Organics for all over-body sun protection and Vive Sana for face. Respect our oceans and reefs because there's no turning back the clock on this one!