Sunscreen Choice Can Protect More Than Just Your Skin

Coral Reef

When the sky is clear, and the sun is out, it is an excellent time to enjoy outdoor activities. But protection is essential from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation (UV), since UV rays cause damage to skin, aging it prematurely, and can increase the risk of skin cancer. Wearing sunscreen is especially essential where UV rays are intense. However, as we protect ourselves, we may be destroying the ocean and its marine life due to toxic substances found within these sunscreens.

Studies completed by marine researchers have revealed two main sunscreen ingredients, oxybenzone, and octinoxate, that are hazardous to coral reefs. (NCCOS, 2014). Scientists state chemically-based sunscreens containing the two elements cause the corals to bleach. (EHP, 2008).  Additionally, the existence of these chemicals in seawater allows viruses to flourish, putting coral reefs at an increased risk of catching an infection that could also lead to bleaching and death. As a result, Hawaii passed a bill on May 1st, 2018, which prohibits the use of sunscreens which contain harmful chemicals.

In addition, marine researchers have found connections between the parabens in sunscreens and their preservatives found in marine mammal’s tissues, such as the Bottlenose Dolphin. Researches have suggested two theories as to why. One may be the result of sunscreen washing off swimmers’ bodies into the ocean. The other argument is that the preservatives are a result of contaminated water moving from plugholes into oceans. (Environ. Sci. Technol., 2015).


Our personal choice to use reef-safe sunscreen can be an enormous advantage, and there is an abundance available for purchase. Also, water-resistant sunscreens are better as fewer ingredients will wash off your body and face into the ocean. If you are looking for a sunscreen for water activities, check the water resistance duration on the label. Sometimes, the sunscreen bottle itself will claim the products to be “reef safe,” “friendly,” or “coral safe.”


1. Avoid sunscreens that contain the ingredients oxybenzone and octinoxate. Check the label. These two toxic substances cause sunscreen-induced coral bleaching.

2. Look for sunscreen with a mineral base that includes the ingredients zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Sunscreens made with these elements are mineral-based. The components of these mineral-based ingredients create a layer on top of the skin, instead of being absorbed by the body, and will still block harmful UV rays. Marine researchers have deemed these ingredients to be less detrimental to corals and not connected to coral bleaching.

3. Look for components that are “non-nano.” For mineral sun blocks to not harm the coral reefs, they must be “non-nano,” therefore, the ingredient particles must be below 100 nanometers in size so that corals can’t ingest them.

4. Reef-safe labels. Most sunscreen companies will label their products as “reef-safe,” or “friendly.” To make sure, always double check the label.


The Monarch Butterfly Makes a Comeback

Image: Monarch Butterfly from Pixabay

The Monarch butterfly, scientifically known as Danaus Plexippus, is likely the most well-known butterfly in North America. The Monarch butterfly habitats from southern Canada, throughout the United States and to northern Mexico. These butterflies are known for having the most extensive insect migration in North America and can travel up to 4,000 km (2,500 m) in their lifetime. They abandon the cold weather and migrate south to feast on their favorite tree, the eucalyptus. Nevertheless, the original butterflies don’t complete the entire round-trip migration from the regions of northern Mexico to southern Canada. Instead, the complete cycle transpires over four generations. (Canadian Geographic, 2006).

The Monarch butterfly migrates for two reasons. They can’t survive in the cold weather, especially when winter arrives in Canada and the northern United States. Also, the young Monarch larvae feed on plants, such as milkweed, which doesn’t grow in the winter under the blanket of snow. The butterflies must fly south to stay warm, and the spring generation will return north to places where the plants are copious.

In the 1990s a report became public from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife stating an approximate one billion Monarch butterflies have disappeared. A researcher of the Monarch Species clarified there are three main threats: deforestation due to illegal logging at the Mexican nature preserve, the decline of milkweed (the plant which the Monarch larvae feed upon), which is their procreative habitat, and through herbicides and extreme weather situations along their traveling route. (WWF, 2014). There could be other factors uncovered to their surprise disappearance; researchers are continuing their work.

Philanthropists and activist groups sent a plea to governments of North America to make a change and bring back the Monarch butterfly. World Wildlife Federation sent a letter to the governments of U.S., Canada, and Mexico requesting them to take prompt action to save the Monarch butterfly migration and put conservation efforts in place. (WWF 2014).

Shortly after the decreasing numbers of Monarch butterflies were made public, conservation efforts were created and set into place. As a result, Mexican authorities have reduced deforestation by prohibiting illegal logging. The U.S. and Canada have put a stop to the obliteration of milkweed habitats and have made restrictions in the milkweed habitat areas for the Monarchs to lay their larvae. Conservationists are planting flowers in gardens along the migration path, allowing the Monarch to stop and feed on nectar during their long flights.

The latest survey, from January of 2019, depicted a rise in the Monarch populations. In Mexico, the area of forest inhabited by hibernating Monarch butterflies has improved by 144% in comparison to the 2018 survey, the most significant growth in the past 12 years. A new colony of Monarchs was also discovered in the Nevado de Toluca, State of Mexico. (WWF, 2019). Through the voice and efforts of activists, scientists, conservationists, and governments across North America, the Monarch butterfly is making a steady comeback.


15 Things You didn’t Know Could Be Recycled

1. Felts and Pens

Image: Pixabay

If you have a dry felt or empty pen, don’t throw it away! These can be gathered up and recycled at some office supply stores. Check out Staples and other stores for their recycling programs!

2. Carpet

Image: Pixabay

Need a new rug and not sure what to do with the old one? Don’t throw out the old carpet, recycle it. Instead, find a carpet repossession facility which will recover the rug and avoid adding to the landfill. You can also ask your local carpet company if they have a recycling program!

3. Ink Cartridges

Image: PXHere

The ink cartridges from your home or business office can be recycled. Many office supply companies provide consumers with assistance for recycling their ink cartridges. Staples will recycle ink cartridges, and HP has an ink cartridge program that includes free shipping of old cartridges for recycling. Check your local office supply stores and encourage them to offer a recycling program if they do not have one in place.

4. Computers

Image: PXHere

There is an abundance of parts and pieces used to create a computer and there are a variety of mechanisms that can easily be recycled. Perhaps your city has an eco-recycling program, or something similar. Computer supply companies will often take old computers and salvage the parts.

5. Eyeglasses

Image: Flickr

Do you have old or broken glasses laying around? These too can be recycled. The different parts of the glasses can be reused: the lenses, plastic frames, and nose protectors all can be recycled. Donate your old eyeglasses and frames to optometry and vision care locations.

6. Home Electronics

Image: Flickr

The majority of households contain an abundance of electronics available throughout the decades. It is important to recycle these properly and most cities have designated electronic recycling depots. Calling local recycling companies for information is essential.

7. Cell Phones

Image: Pixabay

Most humans have a collection of old and dated cell phones in their desks or coat pocket from last season. Each of these cell phones has value in particular manufacturing markets. Local eco-stations will take cell phones, and they can also be up-cycled on such sites as, which may have monetary value.

8. Crayons

Image: Pixabay

Crayola manufactures millions of crayons per year. Many of these crayons, unfortunately, end up landfills. The National Crayon Recycling Program has made it possible to stop unwanted crayons from going into landfills. The program will take all broken, used and unwanted crayons back, where they are melted down and recycled into new crayons.

9. Wine Corks

Image: Flickr

When the wine bottle is empty, send your cork to ReCORK. ReCORK collects corks and manufactures the recycled corks to create new eco-friendly products.

10. Car Batteries

Image: Pixabay

Dead or old car batteries can be recycled. Some local Walmart’s or mechanic shops will recycle old or dead car batteries, and some businesses will even reimburse you money for it!

11. Shoes

Image: Pixabay

Have your running shoes hit the pavement too many times, and now they are worn out? Perhaps you have a few pairs in the back of the closet you don’t use anymore. A variety of different shoe stores, such as Nike, Running Wild and the MORE Foundation accept used sneakers for recycling and reuse.

12. Plastic Cups

Image: Pixabay

TerraCycle is a company in New Jersey which recycles a variety of plastics. You can ship your extra plastics off to New Jersey to be recycled instead of trashing them.

13. Cigarette Butts

Image: Pexels

Same as number 12. TerraCycle is a company in New Jersey which also recycles cigarette butts! They salvage more plastics than just these two items, check them out for everything they accept!

14. Holiday Lights

Image: Pixabay

Take the old and burnt out ones to Home Depot. In 2014, Home Depot launched a light recycling program. In some areas where E-waste can be recycled, lights and small electronics can be recycled their too. Be sure to call ahead first or check their sites to ensure what can and can’t be recycled.

15. Empty or Used Makeup Containers

Image: Pixabay

Do you have an abundance of make-up containers laying around and not sure what to do with them? Companies such as MAC, Aveda, and Origins all have recycling programs are available for a cleaner and proper disposal.