Sunscreen’s Dark Side

The warm and welcoming climate of the Canary Islands attracts yearly more than 13 Million sun-seeking travelers from around the world, offering beach-days and sunshine all year round. However, beneath the sun-soaked surface, there’s an environmental threat lurking that demands our immediate attention – harmful sunscreen. This seemingly innocent product, designed to protect our skin from the sun’s rays, is leaving a trail of destruction on the delicate ecosystems of the Canaries.

The Downside of Sunscreen:

While sunscreen plays a crucial role in safeguarding our skin against harmful UV rays, not all formulations are created equal. Many commercial sunscreens contain chemicals that, when washed off into the ocean, pose a significant risk to marine life and the fragile ecosystems surrounding the Canary Islands.

  1. Coral Bleaching:
    One of the most devastating consequences of harmful sunscreen is coral bleaching. A diversity of harmful Chemicals found in almost all sunscreens contribute to the deterioration of coral reefs. These vital ecosystems, which harbor an incredible diversity of marine life, are seriously endangered by harmful sunscreen use.
  2. Bioaccumulation:
    Toxic Chemicals accumulate in marine organisms, leading to their death and sickness. The chemicals are very persistent, as they are made-to-last as sunblockers. Thereby, they remain harmful for a very long time and their removal from the lifecycle is hardly possible.
  3. Ecosystem Services:
    Eventually, this disruption of our ecosystems threatens their functioning and finally their existence. But, we as humans rely on functioning ecosystems. An Ocean without functioning ecosystems would lose its ability to stay in balance and will eventually worsen climate change instead of helping it.

A Call for Change:

It’s evident that the negative impacts of harmful sunscreen are far-reaching and pose a threat to the natural beauty of the Canary Islands. However, there are alternatives and responsible practices that can help mitigate these issues.

  1. Choose Reef-Safe Sunscreens:
    Opt for reef-safe sunscreens that are free from oxybenzone, octinoxate, and other harmful chemicals. Mineral-based sunscreens, containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, provide effective UV protection without posing a threat to marine life.
  2. Raise Awareness:
    Education is key. By raising awareness about the environmental consequences of harmful sunscreens, we can empower both locals and tourists to make informed choices and adopt eco-friendly sunscreen options.
  3. Support Local Initiatives:
    Encourage and support local businesses and initiatives that promote sustainability. By choosing products that align with environmentally conscious practices, we contribute to the preservation of the Canary Islands’ natural wonders.

Lets Get it On!

As visitors and stewards of the Canary Islands, it is our responsibility to tread lightly on this ecological paradise. By making informed choices about the products we use, particularly sunscreen, we can contribute to the preservation of the unique and fragile ecosystems that make the Canaries a jewel in the Atlantic. Let’s protect the beauty beneath the surface and ensure that future generations can continue to enjoy the wonders of these enchanting islands.

If you want to do more, check out Canary Blue, our Ocean Cleanup Initiative and find out how you can get engaged!

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