June 21st marked the Summer Solstice, Ke Ala Polohiwa a Kane. Summer has officially arrived! Hopefully, for you and your 'ohana, that means some fun in the sun and plenty of beach time. We always hear warnings about protecting our bodies from sun exposure through the use of UPF clothing, hats, umbrellas, and of course, SPF sunscreen. But have you heard about how you can protect ocean health during your beach outings?
University of Hawai'i led research, supported by the World Conservation Congress of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, has shown that oxybenzone is a major cause for coral damage including coral larvae deformity, bleaching, and DNA damage that weakens corals' adaptability to climate change. Unfortunately, oxybenzone has been major ingredient in sunscreens for many years. Although the Hawai'i state legislature voted to ban oxybenzone sunscreens, the ban is not yet in effect meaning that reef safe sunscreens are still on shelves and available for purchase.
Coral bleaching is particularly acute in Hawai'i and increasing at a rate never before noted in recorded history. It is within our grasp to help reduce damage to our corals and save our reefs by switching to oxybenzone free sunscreen today.
A simple web search for "oxybenzone free sunscreens" or "reef safe sunscreens" draws up plenty of options including many non-nano zinc oxide based sunscreens that won't leave you looking like a surfer straight out of the 80's. So next time you are at the store stocking up for summer, be sure to read those ingredient labels, as you would with food items. If you can't find a reef safe alternative, ask a manager to start stocking some options.
You can also check out the Environmental Working Group for your sunscreen choice guide, along with many other consumer health and safety guides.
We hope you can find the time to join us at one of our many weekday and weekend events this summer to learn more ways you can help to protect the environment. Check out our calendar for weekly volunteer events or send us an email.
The mission of Hui o Ko`olaupoko is to protect ocean health by restoring the `aina: mauka to makai. This is done in partnership with stakeholders including interested citizens, non-governmental organizations, government, educational institutions and businesses while using and focusing on sound ecological principles, community input, and cultural heritage.