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Protecting Coral Reefs

By: Rebecca Remillard
Beneath the surface of the ocean, all over the world, coral reef live. Thousands of species, from swaying fans, large reef building colonies and small, solitary stands make up the underwater structure which one quarter of all fish depend on.

Why are coral reefs important? They provide shelter and food for fish as well as a safe place to reproduce and rear their young. Over half a billion people around the world also depend on coral reefs for food and income as well as coastline protection against storms and erosion. Without this protection, some atoll countries, such as Maldives and Kiribati, would simply no longer exist.

Coral reefs worldwide are in danger.

Harmful sunscreens are one culprit. Oxybenzone is a chemical found in many sunscreens because it protects skin from dangerous UV light. Unfortunately, it is also detrimental to coral reefs. Oxybenzone increases coral reefs’ susceptibility to bleaching and damages their DNA which interferes with reproduction and can cause deformities and abnormalities. Even worse, minuscule amounts of oxybenzone in our oceans can prompt these adverse effects. Just 62 parts per trillion of this chemical (equal to one drop in 6.5 olympic swimming pools) wreaks damage to coral reefs.

Sunscreen enters the ocean in numerous ways. While swimming, it can of course be washed directly from our skin into the water, but it also enters through treated wastewater after being showered off. Spray-on sunscreens should be avoided in particular because they create a chemical cloud which settles on the sand and then washes into the ocean at high tide. The good news: not all sunscreens are harmful to the reef. Reef-safe sunscreen use a mineral-base of zinc oxide to protect skin in lieu of oxybenzone.

Hawaiʻi Peeps’ Kukui Nut Sun Mud Sunscreen provides water-resistant, broad spectrum UV protection and is made with non-nano, food-grade zinc oxide—100% reef safe! Surfers of Hawaiian waters can attest: this long-lasting sunscreen is equipped to fend off even the strongest of the sun’s rays. Kukui Nut Sun Mud Sunscreen is hand made in small batches with organic oils and local Hawaiian beeswax, coffee berry and vanilla bean. Founder Wilkie Mcclaren has made sure that even the packaging is recyclable and eco-friendly with clean label formulations.

Hawaii Peeps | Kukui Nut Sun Mud Sunscreen
2.2 Ounce Tin
$22.00
Common Ground is proud to sell Wilkie’s products--she is an activist who has been instrumental in pushing Hawaiʻi legislature to ban toxic elements in sunscreen products. It is part of her mission to enjoy the sun and the ocean while also protecting the ocean’s vital coral reefs.
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