I am asked this question so often that it warrants a blog post – a few, actually. Of course, when people ask me this it is the perfect opportunity to ask for a donation but I also like to give a real answer. The real answer is that what happens inland from the ocean is just as important as on the coasts. Here is Part 1 of things inlanders can do to help.
In fact, most ocean pollution begins on land. According to NOAA, “Eighty percent of pollution to the marine environment comes from the land. One of the biggest sources is called nonpoint source pollution, which occurs as a result of runoff.” Runoff starts inland and makes its way to the ocean through rivers and streams. What you rinse down your drain can make its way to the ocean.
In recent years, using “reef safe” sunscreen has garnered a lot of media attention – which is great. Most people who have heard of its importance may think to themselves, “I’m going on a beach vacation, I should take reef-safe sunscreen.”
Land runoff being what it is, my advice when inland dwellers ask how they can help is that reef-safe products should be used in all parts of the globe. I highlight the word products because there are dangerous chemicals for the ocean in more than just sunscreen.
There are plenty of great products out there that are reef-safe. Some say “natural” because there is now some controversy about using the term “reef-safe”. More information from sustainabletravel.org states:
- Avoid aerosols – spray-on sunscreens create a chemical cloud that settles onto the sand. When the tide comes in these chemicals wash into the ocean.
- Avoid sunscreens that contain harmful chemicals such as Oxybenzone, Benzophenone-1, Benzophenone-8, OD-PABA, 4-Methylbenzylidene camphor, 3-Benzylidene camphor, Octinoxate, and Octocrylene.
- Opt for mineral sunscreens that use ingredients such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. But remember that not all mineral sunscreens are reef-safe. In order to be reef-safe, the ingredients must be “non-nano,” or larger than 100 nanometers in size, as this makes it less likely that it will be absorbed by marine life. Choose mineral products that indicate that the ingredients are non-nano, for example, “non-nano zinc oxide”.
- Look for products with the Protect Land + Sea Certification.
I use products by Stream 2 Sea. They offer sunblock and sunscreen, haircare, skincare and more.