We never did celebrate the one year anniversary of last July’s Hawai’i “Sunscreen Bill” signing. Though it was a momentous occasion after three years of diligent work… it was also a weird day seeing “politics” in action. Officials in attendance play-acting their die-hard support, looking for accolades, some demanding to sit in the front row… despite the reality many of these people fought us at every turn (for shame!).
The majority of press gets it wrong and mislead people to think Hawai’i banned all dangerous sunscreens and the bill is already in effect. In actually, though we’re excited it’s helped educate so many on the topic, things here only seem to be getting worse.
Not only are the two ingredients Oxybenzone and Octinoxate still being sold (the bill doesn’t go into effect until 2021), but those chemical sunscreen companies didn’t miss a beat by labelling their formulations that now excluded these two ingredients as “Reef Safe” – as if ipso facto it negated all the other dangerous ingredients they use. Add to that the millions of tourists coming to Hawaii… it’s hard to keep up (and surely similar situations are happening at destination locations across the globe). The environment here is continuing to be overloaded with toxic chemical sunscreens.
The personal care industry’s goal – to completely confuse this unregulated term “reef safe”, and it’s worked, as now every tourist we speak to about their sunscreen not being safe try to prove us wrong: “No. It’s safe, see” pointing to the words “reef safe” on their bottles. They often won’t listen after that, because they don’t want to feel duped. We get it. They’d rather believe in some omni-potent marketing department – that would never lead them astray – than imagine they purchased $40 in toxic crap that’s poisoning themselves, their kids, and the marine environment. And of course, chains like Costco to even mom n’ pop local surf shops in Hawai’i would never sell sunscreen if it wasn’t safe, right?!
It’s why everyone must do due diligence and FLIP THE BOTTLE, READ THE INGREDIENTS. If your sunscreen contains OCTOCRYLENE OXYBENZONE OCTINOXATE AVOBENZONE OCTISALATE HOMOSALATE PARABENS (see our site for complete list) IT IS NOT SAFE FOR PEOPLE OR MARINE / AQUATIC LIFE.
For those who already know this, success is contingent upon you all to help spread the word. When you see incorrect information being published in the media, or on social media, politely correct them. Follow #reefsafesunscreen and similar hashtags and make ONE comment a day – tag us in so we can share. Ask people, businesses, agencies like Hawaii Tourism Authority and other visitor bureau’s to take on our Sunscreen Pledge – include our link, info, or even incorporate it into their own environmental commitment. Educate ONE person a day – including your local store buyers! Create ONE “no toxic sunscreen” sign for your favorite beach. Work on getting the city and county to approve of official signage (help us with that!). Plan ONE sunscreen trade-in – work it into a beach clean-up or other local event – we’ll supply sunscreen educational cards, materials you can print and brands you can contact. (We do need more help printing cards and signs if there’s a rich person out who cares let us know).
We’re stoked the Hawai’i Sunscreen Bill has inspired so many. Especially the Palau Pledge and the new legislation that passed in the Virgin Islands (which does include Octocrylene, is more comprehensive, and will go into effect sooner than Hawai’i!). Note: we will work to add Octocrylene and Parabens at minimum to the Hawai’i bill.
If you haven’t yet, support our efforts by getting our Summer Safe Sunscreen Box that contains about 10 sample, travel AND full sized reef-friendly brands – a great way to discover your fave or as a gift to help someone to make the switch. There’s a limited number left. If you are into social media, like making memes, or have video editing talents you’d like to share and want to put in a few hours, contact us please. Mahalo!
Hawai’i banned octinoxate and oxybenzone in sunscreens with a bill that goes into effect in 2021. Since then Palau has followed suit, while many other countries concerned about the decline of their coral reefs and contamination of their marine life are debating the issue. Other cities and states across the U.S., inspired by the success in Hawai’i, are working on their own bans as well, including the Florida Keys where their corals have been decimated. Though there are many factors at play, having sunscreens in the waters decreases the opportunity for coral restoration.
We’ve created many tools used in our work on the Hawai’i “Sunscreen Bill” that we will be sharing, including this updated Mineral Sunscreen Collage* we printed as signage for our Sunscreen Rally held at the Hawai’i State Capitol Building last spring, which helped push the bill forward. It addresses the argument that if you ban sunscreens with oxybenzone and octinoxate you will be left with no options for people who want to protect themselves from exposure to UV rays. Fact is, the quality mineral options are not only safer, but typically offer much better SPF protection.
Please feel free to utilize anything we’ve produced on our web site, whether sharing online or printing (there is a download button on the PDF below). Simply tag us, link back to us and / or credit our work. Mahalo for helping protect people, corals, marine life by educating and legislating on safer sunscreens!
*There’s been an explosion of mineral sunscreen brands! Again this is simply a small selection of those containing no oxybenzone or octinoxate that are available in the U.S. If you have a brand you’d like featured in future signage, our upcoming Safe Sunscreen Guide, or included in the next Safe Sunscreen Box, please send a sample with ingredient list to BTS, PO Box 1208, Kilauea, HI 96754. Note: we have a more comprehensive list of ingredients we do not like to see in sunscreens, from skin irritants, allergens, carcinogens, hormone disruptors, nano-particles, fragrances.Mineral-Sunscreens-collage-best-1
Hormone disruptors, toxins, carcinogens, preservatives in many popular sunscreens can negatively impact people, corals, aquatic and marine life. In 2018, Hawai’i passed a ban on sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate – two of the more dangerous ingredients – which goes into effect in 2021. Still stores continue to sell them. Many brands that removed these two chemicals from some of their formulations now label them as “reef safe” as if simply not containing oxybenzone and octinoxate automatically equate to a product being safe. There are no regulations on the term “reef safe”, “coral safe” or “safe” in general. In fact there are many questionable active and inactive ingredients commonly used. Some we try to avoid include: oxybenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octinoxate, octocrylene, avobenzone, dimethicone, parabens, BHT, nanoparticles, propylene glycol, synthetic fragrances, retinyl palmitate, cocamide dea, phenoxyethanol. Always check the bottle.
We look for sunscreens that are safer for people and the environment. When choosing a sunscreen we like broad spectrum protection from minerals such as non-nano zinc oxide (or titanium dioxide) in a natural base. See our PDF for a few to try. Feel free to print and share with your local shop buyer or at your next sunscreen trade-in.