Tag Archives: sealife

How Sunscreen is killing the coral reef

When you think of sunbathing or going on holiday, you always associate wearing sunscreen. Going on holiday hasn’t been a realistic opportunity for many of us recently, I can imagine many of us yearn for a beach holiday and opting for a staycation at home. But the sea is paying a hefty price based on your choices.

Wearing sunscreen while in the sun in an essential part of healthy skincare, after all, no one wants skin cancer. Have you wondered whether your sunscreen choice is harming the environment?

You may have watched documentaries about the rise in sea temperature due to global warming and its impact on coral reefs. Well, it’s also pollution that’s having an effect or coral reefs – from our sunscreen.

Coral reefs, also known as rainforests of the sea, play a vital role in the health of the earth’s oceans.

What is sunscreen doing?

According to National Geographic, about 14,000 tons of sunscreen are thought to wash into the oceans each year and about 70 – 80 percent of coral reefs in the Caribbean have been lost in the last five decades due to pollution and warming waters. This is shocking!

Some sunscreen lotions contain a chemicals such as oxybenzone, octinoxate and octocrylene and when you go into the sea and sunscreen washes off into the water, it is absorbed by the corals having a devastating effect.

This doesn’t just occur when swimming, it can happen when you’re having a shower to wash off any sunscreen.

Change is coming…

But help is on the way, on 1st January 2020, the small Pacific nation, Palau, became the first country to ban sunscreen that is harmful to the corals and sea life. Hawaii has recently introduced a ban on sunscreens that are harmful to the environment. This came into effect on 1st January 2021.

We want to protect our skin but we have to protect the environment too and there is a solution.

Check out the following tips

  • Look for the two common mineral sun-filters – zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. They are great at reflecting the sun’s rays as it coats the skin like a mirror.
  • The ones to go for will state ‘non nano’ as they won’t contain particles that contaminate the sea and affect marine life.
  • Avoid sunscreen that contain – oxybenzone, octinoxate or octocrylene. These are the ones that have been banned by Palau and Hawaii. For good reason!

When you are in the sun, please ensure you wear the suitable sun protection and choose wisely to help the oceans too.

Say No To Balloons

When you think of balloons, you think of party and celebration. No child’s birthday celebration, young or old, is complete without balloons. The different sizes, colours, shapes bring joy to people. Not only do we gift them for birthdays, but for new births, when someone is recovering, christenings. Balloons can be used at a time of sadness too. Releasing balloons allows us to show respect for our loved ones who have departed, you can’t deny that the way the balloons rise into the sky is quite grateful. However, releasing balloons like this has a downside, it hurts the environment and wildlife.

We need to say no to balloon releases

Whenever we’re at a party, friends and family tend to give my 4-year-old a balloon at the end of the night. I won’t lie, the smile it brings to her face fills me with joy, however, deep down I’m thinking ‘how on earth am I going to dispose of that’. There’s no part of it that can be recycled; the balloon, the ribbon or the weight. Although, there are some balloons on the market that claim they are biodegradable, they can usually take years to fully decompose and the damage done in the meantime can last longer than the balloon.

Reasons why we should start saying no to balloons

They are harmful to wildlife

We’ve seen it on TV and David Attenborough has told us that certain wildlife will mistake a floating carrier bag or balloon for food. Turtles will mistake them for Jellyfish. Once ingested, the damage this does to them internally can lead to starvation. The string attached to the balloons cause just as much damage. The string be ingested or wrap itself around a marine animal’s neck, eventually choking them to death. If the choking doesn’t kill them, the cuts to their skin caused by the string can cause infections and will probably kill them.

It’s littering

If you think about it, a balloon release is an accepted form of littering. You would never dream of leaving all your rubbish on the grass after a picnic (normal people wouldn’t) and sensible people would clean up after themselves but when a balloon is released and disappears from view, what goes up must come down. Where do you think it’s going to land? On a farm? In a river? If the release is by the sea, it almost certainly will end up in the ocean.

There’s a helium shortage

I was a little shocked when I found out there was a shortage and even more shocked at what helium is used for aside balloons. Helium is used in other (more important) areas of business and exploration; inside MRI Scanners, as a cooling agent for the Large Hadron Collider, it’s used in space exploration as a cooling agent for equipment and even by deep sea divers. I’m a little surprised in light of this, why the sale of helium isn’t more restricted? I hope you would agree that these other uses are more vital that filling up a balloon for a party.

What can you use instead?

Balloon releases – can be replaced by releasing flowers into the sea, or even planting a tree. Planting a tree in a quiet place can be somewhere you can come for time on your own to think and think about your loved one. They may no longer be with you but their memory will.

Alternatives to balloon releases

Birthday Parties / celebrations – Paper chains are really easy to make and your little one(s) can get involved too. Paper flowers are a really good way of adding colour to a party, there are oodles of videos on youtube to choose from and when the party is over, they can be given to the guests as they leave as memento. There’s nothing wrong with using the traditional banners, bunting and decorations you can buy on the high street and storing them in the wrappers they came in. However, the key is to not purchase decorations with a number on them, this way they can be used over and over again. Trust me, no one is going to think “Weren’t they the same banners at Wendy’s birthday last year?’

For a treat, I take my 4-year-old to McDonald’s and I recently started to explain why she shouldn’t accept a balloon when it is offered by one of the employees, my daughter now says ‘no thank you’ and it makes me so proud. It doesn’t seem to bother her that she’s not getting a colourful balloon as long as she’s got ketchup with her chips, all is good in the world.

By using alternatives to balloons, it allows you to be creative and the whole family can join in to make the day special. You’d be surprised how much stuff you already have around the house for materials.

By saying no to balloons, you are protecting the environment and wildlife too.