This morning, I was alerted by my sister to this piece of news in our local paper The Star. Apparently, all our sunscreens and sunblocks are killing off coral on the sea bed and by extension, killing off marine life.
So, the Terengganu government will only allow ‘green’ and eco-friendly sunblocks for use on Redang Island which is rich in corals and marine life (Do you know I’ve never been to Redang Island? I gotta remedy that!)
Before scoffing (as I do) I did a quick search online and I found that the National Geographic had said the same thing. Chemical sunscreens washed off swimmers are affecting the coral life in the seas – they can bleach corals and activate algae viruses. (source) 4 common ingredients in sunscreens are : paraben, cinnamate, benzophenone, and a camphor derivative. Other sites include octinoxate and oxybenzone as harmful ingredients to marine life.
The National Geographic site recommends that people use sunscreens with physical filters – usually Titanium Dioxide or Zinc Oxide – and eco-friendly sunscreens.
Personally, I’m not quite sure what all this means.
Even physical filters will be contained within a chemical compound that forms the cream which we apply on our bodies. So, what about those creams then? The local Terengganu government says they will be coming up with a list of sunscreens or sunblocks that will be allowed on Redang Island. I would be interested to see that list.
From my limited knowledge, I have not yet come across an easily available and affordable ‘green’ and ‘eco-friendly’ sunblock in our drugstores and pharmacies. If you are aware of any that are easily available here in Malaysia, please leave a comment – it will be very useful!
I set my gopher sis to do some online searching and she came up with some sites which we could find useful:-
- Smartshield sunscreen – marine friendly
- Best Beach and Sport Sunscreen – Lavera sunscreen is listed and might be available here but I’m not sure
- Some organic eco sunscreens – cannot recognize any as available here except maybe Jurlique and SPF15 is not sufficient for me
Now here is the problem.
Are ‘green’ ‘eco-friendly’ sunscreens easily available in Malaysia? I’d say no.
If they are available, are they expensive? In general, yes.
Will I buy ‘green’ ‘eco friendly’ sunscreens? Only if they will work for me, are easily accessible and do not break me out. Remember, just because something is organic or natural does not mean you will not be allergic to it.
I love our corals and our marine life and I don’t want them to die because I’m protecting myself from the sun’s harmful UV rays. But if it comes down to paying an inordinate amount of money for sunscreen that might break me out in a rash just for one trip to the beach, I might have to reconsider going swimming in the sea (I don’t usually unless I snorkel) and I’d just sit by the beach. I’m quite happy with the latter and if I don’t swim in the sea, I can stick to my regular sunscreen right? 🙂
I don’t know – my head hurts 😛
Please share your thoughts on this or on ‘green’ ‘eco-friendly’ sunscreens in general. Everything contains chemicals these days and I wonder if its not these ‘green eco-friendly’ sunscreen companies that are going to be making a killing out of this – so says the cynic in me 🙂
Note: The image of Nemo from Disney’s Finding Nemo was used because Nemo is a clown fish that is found in abundance in our warm tropical waters and they live among sea anemones and corals