Words by Autumn Blum
Life out on the water brings peace to over stimulated and anxious minds. The soothing sound of the water lapping at the board and the soft plunk of the paddle cutting through the surf, can eliminate the stress and tensions of a bad week at work, a fight with a significant other, or the intensity of current events in the news. As the sun rays warm your skin and you meditate in the rhythmic pulse of the waves, you shouldn’t have to ruin your break by worrying that you’re not doing enough to protect yourself and the marine life that is living beneath your feet.
Paddling is your happy place. It is a fun way to exercise that often doubles as a spiritual experience that is harmonious with the nature that surrounds you. But when you put on your sunscreen and head out to enjoy the beauty of the water, what do you really know about the components of the lotion you’re lathering on your body?
We have all been told we need to wear sunscreen, but there are so many different kinds available all with differing levels of SPF. Some of these products are causing serious harm to the environment and our bodies. Hawaii and Bonaire just passed a ban on two chemicals in standard sunscreen, Oxybenzone and Octinoxate, because they discovered evidence that those chemicals were causing coral reefs to bleach and die. Coral reefs are like a litmus test for the health of our oceans--without them, erosion and global warming get worse, and fragile marine ecosystems are disrupted affecting the food chain of many marine species. According to other scientists, oxybenzone and octinoxate also harm the human endocrine system and estrogen receptors. In the wake of Hawaii and Bonaire’s groundbreaking decision, REI also announced they will be banning Oxybenzone as well. This has opened up the discussion about a number of other chemicals that could be highly toxic as well.
Luckily there are other options out there. According to Dr. Craig Downs at Haereticus Laboratories, the safest choice for you and the oceans is to invest in a non-nano, Titanium dioxide or Zinc oxide mineral sunscreen. This does limit the SPF factor, because true non-nano mineral sunscreens do not offer as high of SPF ratings as chemical sunscreens. Luckily, SPF levels don’t matter as much as we have previously thought. In fact, anything higher than SPF 30 only offers a few more percentage points of protection. As long as you are remembering to re-apply as directed (usually every 1.5-2 hours is a pretty standard recommendation), then SPF 30 is more than satisfactory.
That’s where Stream2Sea comes in. Stream2Sea offers the only mineral sunscreen that has been tested and proven not to harm humans, freshwater fish, saltwater fish, C. Elegans, and coral larvae, while also offering broad spectrum protection. Mineral sunscreens are notorious for leaving a white residue, which you can rock to show the world you are caring for yourself and the planet, but Stream2Sea also offers a tinted option so you can take killer Instagram pictures, look good, and feel good knowing you are doing your part to keep our oceans safe.
These products “check all the eco-friendly boxes,” using sugarcane resins instead of petroleum based plastics to package their sunscreen, as well as repurposing milk jugs for their 97% recycled content bottles. They offer a wide range of products, so check them out if you’re in the market for a biodegradable leave-in-conditioner, shampoo, SPF lip balm, after sun cream, or sunscreen.
What we put on our skin and in our oceans does make a difference. Put your mind at ease before you step on your board, and take the steps necessary to make sure you’re doing your best for the planet, and for your health. Happy boarding!