Biodegradable Sunscreen: What You Need to Know!

Biodegradable Sunscreen: What You Need to Know!

Just because a sunscreen is biodegradable does not mean it is a safe sunscreen for aquatic ecosystems, particularly if it contain oxybenzone, octyl methoxycinnamate and other harsh ingredients. Biodegradability means that the product will eventually break down within 28-60 days, but our question remains what kind of damage can be done to the environment or our bodies during that time? Toxicity and biodegradability are totally different issues. For instance, one of the most toxic pesticides ever made – dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane or DDT – biodegrades into two compounds which are even more dangerous than the original poison. In this case, biodegradability is clearly a bad thing! Is your sunscreen readily biodegradable? There are several tests to measure a sunscreen’s biodegradability, and most are designed to analyze the product’s ability to breakdown in wastewater treatment facilities with high levels of microbes and enzymes. To be considered ‘readily biodegradable,’ the product must break down into its natural state from 60 to 80% in 28 days. ‘Inherently biodegradable’ means it will break down from as low as 20% to 60% in 28 days. Is it tested in freshwater and saltwater environments? When submitting our products to the lab, we requested a test method that would be more in line with what we were trying to prove: that our sunscreens would be biodegradable in streams, lakes and rivers, as well as our oceans, not just sewers and septic systems. Although we were very excited to get the test results showing that not only our sunscreens biodegrade, but also our shampoo, conditioner, lotion, gel… our complete product line is readily biodegradable in both fresh and saltwater.  Even though...
Leaving No Trace in Ocean-Side Communities

Leaving No Trace in Ocean-Side Communities

One Diver’s Opinion – Guest Blog post by Michelle Montgomery When I moved to Key Largo in 2013, I was absolutely enamoured by the tightly woven relationship between our local reefs and the wellness of our community. Dive shops, snorkel operations, tour boats, fishing charters—our reefs bring thousands of divers, snorkelers, and water-lovers to us each year; it is the main attraction to our island and helps keep our businesses going. However, a study published by the Environmental Health Perspectives journal in 2008 estimated that 4,000 to 6,000 metric tons of sunscreen wash off swimmers annually in oceans worldwide, and up to 10 percent of coral reefs are directly threatened by sunscreen-induced bleaching due to the specific ingredients of these sunscreens. This means ocean-sustained communities like Key Largo directly contribute to the levels of sunscreen in the ocean, but despite being armed with this knowledge, we still allow the sale and use of harmful sunscreens via our shops, tour operations, and more.   We KNOW that specific ingredients in most sunscreens sold and used across our island are directly harming the reefs we RELY on to make money.   So what can community leaders and business owners do to educate tourists on the impact sunscreens are having on our ocean? Culturally, being eco-conscious is a more important topic now than at any other time in history. The world’s focus has begun to shift to being organic and healthy, taking care to limit our ecological footprints, making a change, and living responsibly. It isn’t unreasonable to think we could make a huge paradigm shift in ocean conservation leadership if we can...
6 Ways You Can Limit Your Impact Out on the Reef

6 Ways You Can Limit Your Impact Out on the Reef

There are so many ways we enjoy the ocean, aren’t there? Diving, snorkeling, boating, just sitting on the beach… For those of us who feel that magnetic pull, it’s easy to want to spend as much time as possible in, on or under the water. One of the things we should always keep in mind is that whenever we interact with the ocean, we have the potential to impact the water, reef and marine life. We need to always balance our enjoyment with responsibility. We’ve put together 6 ways you can lessen your, and your family’s, impact: 1. If you’re out playing: choose a sunscreen that isn’t as harmful to fish and coral. It’s no secret that sunscreen is having a hefty impact on our reefs. The good news is it’s pretty easy to be conscious about what sort of sunscreen you choose to use, as well as how you’re using it. PLEASE avoid aerosol sprays: you end up using way more than you actually need and there’s a lot of waste.  Not to mention, there’s minimal research behind what damage we might be doing by inhaling those sunscreen particles and dispersants. Read ingredient labels, even if the sunscreen claims to be ocean friendly or reef safe. Avoid buying sunscreen that uses benzophenone-2, oxybenzone, octinoxate and parabens—as well as coatings used on zinc oxide to reduce whitening. These are proven to be highly toxic to corals and marine life. Also avoid any sunscreens that contain mineral oil (petroleum) which has a low solubility rate in water, is slow to biodegrade and is known to be harmful or fatal to...