August 2, 2020
Choose Reef-Safe Sunscreen to Protect Our Oceans
By Ellen Kranefuss,
Madison Environmental Commission Member

We all know that sunscreen is essential for protecting against skin damage and skin cancer. But be careful which type you use: Beneath the surface of sunscreen’s pleasant scents evoking warm summer memories, there may be chemicals that harm marine life.

These common sunscreen chemicals — including but not limited to Oxybenzo and Benzophenone — are highly toxic to juvenile coral reefs and a variety of marine life. They damage coral reefs’ DNA, induce defects in young mollusks, impair photosynthesis of green algae, and disrupt fertility and reproductive cycles of fish — all of which impacts human life as well.

How to protect yourself with less sunscreen

Toxicity occurs even in an amount equal to one drop of water in an Olympic-sized pool. So the action you take makes an enormous difference.

😎 Limit the times you need to apply sunscreen.

😎 Wear protective, lightweight clothing and a brimmed hat instead of applying sunscreen.

😎 Stay under umbrellas on the beach or stay out of the sun from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Oceans under stress

  • Coral reefs are the ocean’s most important ecosystem, and the first line of defense against tropical storms. 

  • Oceans provide one half of the world's oxygen, and sequester one third of the world's carbon dioxide

  • Disruption of fish reproductive cycles has considerable implications for the ocean’s food chain, and the chemical load carried by fish is passed on to our food system

Reef-safe resources

Switch to marine- and reef-safe sunscreen products. Click on the images above and below for some suggestions, and see the National Ocean Service's list of chemicals to avoid.
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Learn how you can join NABA's Certified Butterfly Garden program, and attract these beautiful pollinators to your yard!

We heard through the grapevine that one of our readers had the great suggestion to share this information. You just need to certify that you have at least 3 different native caterpillar food plants and 3 different butterfly nectar species, and avoid pesticides. Get the details here.
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Join the "Madison Swap & Share" Facebook Group!
Reduce, Re-use, Rejoice!

If you live in Madison and are on Facebook, be sure to join this new group, where you can get and give free stuff that's no longer needed, and request to borrow rarely-used items, such as tools.

It’s amazing to see how much activity there has already been in this group, with residents giving away outgrown clothing, books, games, furniture and more. It's an easy way to prevent useful items from going to the landfill, and a happiness-inducing way to help others in our community while decluttering our own spaces.

A big thank you to neighbors Kirsten Wallenstein, Violet Wallerstein, Kristin Murray, Ellen Kranefuss and Caridad Reyes for making this happen!
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