In 2015 a study by marine scientists hit headlines around the world. A chemical called Ozybenzone, commonly found in sunscreen, was damaging coral reefs and threatening their very existence. Oxybenzone is found in more than 3,500 sunscreen products, said the study, published in the latest edition of the Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology.
The chemical gets into the water via swimmers and wastewater from coastal septic systems. Oxybenzone, which blocks ultraviolet rays, causes “gross deformities” in baby coral, “damages their DNA, and, most alarmingly, acts as an endocrine disruptor”, the study said. The effect is forcing “the coral to encase itself in its own skeleton, leading to death”.
The study was led by marine scientists from Virginia, Florida, Israel, the US National Aquarium and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Ref.
There are a fair few other factors commonly thought to be damaging reefs around the world. Global warming, toxic waste, over fishing to name a few… however, these recent headlines regarding chemicals that are commonly used in sunscreen around the world did kick a few more gears in motion… and every little bit counts.
There are a fair few new initiatives, products, events and movements taking off around the world that are working to minimise our footprints, clean up the planet and protect the environment. We’re running a new series called GSN Earth Movements, looking into a range of products, events & initiatives around the world that have the earth and it’s inhabitants in mind.
Part 1 – Sunscreen Feature – Little Urchin Sunscreen.
As surfers we are constantly looking for ways to nurture and protect our skin, look after our health and hopefully all of us are conscious of the environment. We took a look over a fair few products on the market and came across a relatively unknown gem… Little Urchin.
Most of us know urchins as those little spiky creatures that hang out on reefs and rock shelves. Some of us may have had an up close and personal experience with them during a wipe-out over the years. But there is a relatively unknown fact about these little sea creatures that is very fascinating. Sea urchins are very sensitive to both light and chemicals. Over the years they have evolved to create their own natural sunscreen to protect their young from the sun’s harsh rays. If only we could produce our own! Another cool fact about these little gems is that they are known to live more than 100 years without showing any biological signs of ageing. They’re starting to sound pretty cool right?!
The team at Little Urchin were inspired by these rad little sea creatures when creating their formula for a natural sun protection for humans. They have created a formula rich in essential oils and natural ingredients that still boasts UVA and UVB broad spectrum protection. Little Urchin sunscreen is SPF30, 3 hours water resistant and is a TGA approved and listed product. Little Urchin uses natural ingredients including green tea, cucumber and rosehip extracts along with vitamin E, shea butter and jojoba oil.
There were a few other things that caught our eye in researching this brand including the below logo stamped on every product.
Little Urchin sunscreen is free of toxins and has been deemed ‘reef safe’ and ‘eco friendly’. Studies indicate that none of the ingredients in Little Urchin sunscreen is harmful to coral. Zinc oxide, the key ingredient in Little Urchin sunscreen has been used for centuries in many skin-care products and toothpastes. Studies show that this mineral does not harm coral. Zinc oxide is a powdered mineral that does not dissolve in seawater. Instead, it settles eventually to the seafloor, like silt, and becomes buried in sediment. The other ingredients in Little Urchin sunscreen are biodegradable and safe for any ecosystem.
Another stamp that caught our eye is One Percent for the Planet.
Little Urchin is also a member of One Percent For The Planet, a global network of businesses, nonprofits and individuals working together for a healthy planet. More than $150 Million dollars has been given back to the environment. Little Urchin donate at least 1% of annual sales revenues to environmental organisations worldwide. It’s definitely great to see companies working towards a sustainable future and creating a positive environmental impact!
Stay tuned for the next feature in GSN’s Earth Movements Series on an incredible movement that is taking action in both minimising and removing plastic waste from our oceans.