Coral reefs create a habitat for thousands of animals. Without the reef, ocean ecology falls apart. And lately, the reefs around Hawaiʻi have been dying at alarming rates. When coral is stressed it loses algae (that gives it its color) and becomes bleached; if the coral doesn’t de-stress fast enough it will die. Studies have shown that active ingredients in chemical- based sunscreen, such as oxybenzone and octinoxate, cause major coral stress—contributing to Hawaiʻi’s decline in coral reefs. Based on this scientific evidence, starting in 2016 the Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources began to urge people to stop using oxybenzone-based sunscreens. However, at the state legislative level, our lawmakers failed to pass a handful of bills aimed at restricting these chemicals during the 2017 session. Sierra Club Maui Group decided we can’t wait for the state to take action – it’s up to us! We’re banding together with others to pass county legislation that will restrict the sale of coral-killing sunscreen.
We urge all Sierra Club of Hawaiʻi members to look at
the ingredients in your sunscreen: does it contain oxybenzone, octinoxate, homosalate, octocrylene, avobenzone, or nanoparticles? If so, its contributing to the problem! Instead to protect yourself from the sun wear rash guards, hats, and clothing coverups that leave nothing behind in the ocean. When you must wear sunscreen, opt for a mineral-based lotion made with non-nanoparticle zinc-oxide and/or titanium-dioxide. And always make sure to check the ingredients, don’t just trust a product with a “reef safe” label on the front. There’s no independent organization responsible for testing and officiating over the “reef safe” label, so any company can use it.
With your help, we can protect the reef. Tell your friends and family about toxic chemical sunscreens and support local legislation to make #OxybenzoneFreeHawaii a reality!
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