Nonbiodegradable sunscreens that contain harsh chemicals like oxybenzone have been proven to be toxic to coral reefs and other sea life. (Photo: Getty Images)
Think the plastic straws you gave up sipping from are bad for our oceans? It’s time to consider the same about the sunscreen you use. Nonbiodegradable sunscreens that contain harsh chemicals like oxybenzone have been proven to be toxic to coral reefs and other sea life. But travelers haven’t been as quick to widely abandon them for a natural alternative – so now some destinations are enacting sunscreen bans themselves.
Here are some of the most popular destinations that have banned nonbiodegradable sunscreens, and how you can switch to a responsible alternative.
The first and most sweeping sunscreen ban to come into play in the U.S. was in the reef-rich state of Hawaii, which recently voted to ban the sale of sunscreens that contain the reef-damaging chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate, beginning in 2021. Experts have said the move is an effort to put pressure on sunscreen manufacturers to better label and produce natural sunscreens that use equally effective zinc oxide, which doesn’t harm reefs.
“In my lifetime, our planet has lost about half its coral reefs. We’ve got to take action to make sure we can protect the other half as best we can because we know that time is against us,” said Hawaii Rep. Chris Lee. The ban doesn’t include cosmetic products like SPF makeup, or sunscreens prescribed by a doctor for medical reasons.
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