We all know that sunscreen is a must during these sunny, summer months, but did you know that your sunscreen may actually harm the environment? The chemicals in traditional sunscreens have been shown to potentially cause coral bleaching, which is when the coral becomes stressed, leaving the skeletal structure vulnerable. Since sunscreen is petroleum based, it doesn’t biodegrade, leading up to 6,000 tons of sunscreen that is released by swimmers in reef areas all around. In addition, some sunscreens that have petrochemical active ingredients and nanoparticles could actually cause more problems to our ecosystems. These nanoparticles are thought to cause the elimination of microbes that play important roles in our ecosystems, and since we wash off our sunscreen in the shower, the particles end up in the municipal sewage treatment plants. While the most natural way to shield you from the sun is to wear long sleeves, use umbrellas and hats; take a look at these natural sunscreens that will protect both you from the sun, as well as the reefs and ecosystems from the nasty chemicals.
Written by: Lauren Henry, class of 2014