Today is World Oceans Day! It has been celebrated each year by many countries on June 8th since inception in 1992. It is a day to consider what we might change in our lives to positively impact the oceans that are so essential to our wellbeing. And with summer coming it’s important to consider our sunscreen choices!
In this post I’m sharing about the impact that standard, chemical-based sunscreen has on the natural world, and how to make your own ocean-friendly sunscreen!
The Importance of Our Oceans
The National Ocean Service describes healthy coral reefs as “one of the most valuable ecosystems on Earth. They provide billions of dollars in economic and environmental services, such as food, coastal protection, and tourism. However, coral ecosystems around the world face serious threats from a number of sources, including climate change, unsustainable fishing, land-based pollution, coastal development, disease, and invasive species.”
We rely on our oceans in so many ways. Caroline at Enviroline blog has a great list of 8 Ways we Rely on the Ocean.
[Related: 50 Thoughts on Plastic]
The Impact of Sunscreen Choices
Many of our simple actions from daily life, like using suncreen have an effect on the oceans. We may think that diving into the sea with our sun protection in harmless, however several ingredients in standard sunscreens can impact sea life in significant ways.
These are a few ways our suncreen choices impact ocean life:
- Green Algae: Can impair growth and photosynthesis.
- Coral: Accumulates in tissues. Can induce bleaching, damage DNA, deform young, and even kill.
- Mussels: Can induce defects in young.
- Sea Urchins: Can damage immune and reproductive systems, and deform young.
- Fish: Can decrease fertility and reproduction, and cause female characteristics in male fish.
- Dolphins: Can accumulate in tissue and be transferred to young
We also need to consider the how our sunscreen choices can affect our bodies because standard sunscreens can also have negative impacts on us. According to WebMD:
“Studies have shown that oxybenzone may affect breast development, infant birth weight, and sperm function.”
Better Alternatives for your Sunscreen Choices
There are a number of ways we can protect our oceans. To start, protecting our oceans can be as simple as looking for better sunscreen choices when you’re heading to the beach. This can be done by buying a pre-made version with natural ingredients or by making your own sunscreen at home.
DIY Sunscreen Recipe
Switching up sunscreen to one without harmful ingredients can be as simple as making your own with the help of this recipe and instructions from Plastic Free Mermaid:
- 1/2 cup coconut oil
- 1/4 cup beeswax
- 2 tablespoons NON-NANO, UNCOATED Zinc Oxide (wear a mask when handling this ingredient)
- 1 – 6 tablespoons cacao powder (add to your desired shade of tan or brown)
- Up to 1 teaspoon Red Raspberry Seed Oil
- Up to 1 teaspoon Carrot Seed Oil
- 1-2 drops of aroma enhancing vanilla essence OR lavender essential oils (Do not use citrus essential oils as they increase sun sensitivity)
Find the instructions for completing this sunscreen recipe here: DIY Sunscreen Recipe.
I haven’t made and tested this recipe from the Plastic Free Mermaid yet, but plan to for the summer!
[Related: Make your own deodorant – DIY Deodorant Recipe]
Natural Sunscreen Options
A homemade, do-it-yourself sunscreen isn’t the most practical option for everyone. If you don’t have time to make your own, consider using Badger sunscreen. It’s what I use for my kids and find it works very well.
Badger sunscreen comes in a regular cream-style sunscreen as well as a stick that my kids love to apply on themselves – not sure if that’s a help or hindrance but it keeps them entertained while I apply sunscreen to their arms and legs!
Have you ever considered what ingredients are in your sunscreen? What ocean-friendly sunscreen choices do you make?