ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT

  • Is Your Sunscreen Harming Marine Life

    Vlad61: Shutterstock

    Most people think of sunscreen as something to prevent you from getting burnt or reducing your risk of skin cancer.

    Marine life, however, may not have quite as positive a view when it washes off into the ocean, threatening the ecosystem below the sea.

    Jenny Lord: Shutterstock

    Coral Reefs, Fish and Algae Suffering

    A recent study carried out on tourist popular beaches in the south of France highlighted the dangers of sunscreen as it washes off holidaymakers’ skin and enters the water.

    One ingredient that is posing a lot of danger is titanium dioxide, or TiO2. These tiny nanoparticles are small enough that they don’t reflect visible light, yet they do absorb UV light, making this a popular sunscreen ingredient. Whilst particles of TiO2 are coated with protective chemicals by design, that changes as they enter the environment. Seawater and sunlight break down the coating, leaving the aquatic environment completely exposed.

    The researchers calculated that more than 50 kilograms of these nanoparticles make their way into a small beach over the course of a summer, which is more than enough to harm wildlife. In areas with standing water, such as lakes, the particles can accumulate even more, heightening the problem.

    The chemicals in sunscreen have a lot of adverse effects on marine life. They can decrease fertility and reproduction in fish. They can impair the growth of green algae, damage the reproductive and immune systems of sea urchins, and induce larval deformities in mussels.

    Sunscreens are also hurting coral reefs, with places like Hawaii and Key West banning the sale of sunscreens that contain the chemicals octinoxate and oxybenzone. These ingredients kill coral reefs by essentially leaching out all of their nutrients whilst also causing DNA damage that stunts future development.

    It’s dangerous even in tiny amounts, with the equivalent of a drop of water in six Olympic-sized swimming pools considered enough to cause damage – and it has been estimated that 14,000 tons of sunscreen get into coral reefs across the planet every year.

    Billion Photo: Shutterstock

    What Can We Do?

    With the world becoming a lot more aware of the negative effect we are having on our Planet, there are more and more non-toxic, natural suncreams being developed. Other alternatives are staying out of the sun, wearing UV protective clothing and hats.

  • The Take 3 Challenge

    A brilliant group called Take 3 For the Sea has launched the effort to illustrate how even our smallest acts can make a huge impact when they are multiplied across the masses. You don’t have to use social media to participate – in fact, you don’t even need a computer! But if you do choose to share what you’ve done, you could well inspire many others to do the same. Doing your part is amazing, and getting others on board is even better.

    Take 3 For the Sea’s message is simple: “Take 3 pieces of rubbish with you when you leave the beach, waterway or… anywhere and you have made a difference.”

    According to their website, they’re responsible for having 10 million pieces of rubbish removed from beaches each year, with people across 129 countries participating.

    The idea started in 2009 when two friends, marine ecologist Roberta Dixon-Valk and educator Amanda Marechal were looking for ways to stop plastic pollution from killing our planet’s wildlife. They teamed up with environmentalist Tim Silverwood a year later to publicly launch the Take 3 organisation and have been inspiring people to clean up the planet ever since.

    This is something you can do on your own, any time you’re outdoors. If you want to officially participate in the challenge, all you need to do is take a picture or video of you picking up three pieces of rubbish. Share it on your Facebook or Instagram account using hashtags #Take3Challenge and #Take3fortheSea, and tag three of your friends in the caption to challenge them to follow your lead and do their part for the environment.

    instagram.com/take3forthesea   

     www.take3.org

    Maxim Blinkoff: Shutterstock

    Ary Malemdiwa: Shutterstock

    Plastic in the sea is getting worse. Illustrated by a dead whale that was recently found in the Philippines carrying 40 kilograms of plastic inside its stomach. Some of the objects found included shopping bags, plastic bags and rice sacks. Scientists say the whale died of starvation and dehydration on account of having all that plastic inside its stomach, and it’s a fate shared by thousands of animals that we never end up hearing about.

    For whales like this one who rely on echolocation to find food, plastic pollution is a big problem. Their natural source of food has an echo that is quite similar to that of plastic bags, and they have trouble distinguishing between litter and legitimate food in the dark depths of the ocean where they feed.

    Even when they can see at shallower depths, plastic can look and smell a lot like their natural food sources. For example, plastic covered in algae will look like food and the animals may not realise it’s actually waste. Moreover, plastic bags can float and bob with currents in a way that makes them look like jellyfish.

    Once the plastic enters their body, it can cause problems right away. It can compact within their stomach and prevent real food from making its way into their intestines. When it lines their stomach, it stops them from absorbing nutrients. Either way, it is likely to end in death.

    Seamind224: Shutterstock

    Take 3 for The Sea

  • Would You Pay More For Plastic Free Packaging

    We are all becoming a lot more aware of the amount of plastic we use in our every day life and the effect is having on our environment.

    In a society that seems to revolve around plastic it can be daunting knowing how reduce your plastic usage. Just being aware of the issue is a great first step and we are here to help with a few ideas.

    A study carried out by YouGov found that half of UK consumers would be willing to pay more money to avoid plastic packaging. Half of the people asked said they would pay a higher price to buy goods in biodegradable packaging. 81% of shoppers are focusing on the produce aisle as a place where plastic packaging can be reduced. This was followed by cleaning and household products; homewares; health, hair and oral items; and cosmetics.

    Bogdan Sonjachnyj: Shutterstock

    Foxy's Forest: Shutterstock

    Many people asked largely want to see the government taking bigger steps to control plastic packaging. Nearly 70% felt companies should be legally obligated to produce packaging that is environmentally friendly. 80% were in favour of a bottle deposit return scheme like that seen in Germany, and 71% believed the mandatory 5p plastic bag charge should extend to smaller retailers as well.

    Britain is still struggling to recycle most of its plastic waste, although a recent government initiative seeks to improve that in the years to come. A report by the World Wildlife Fund last year showed that Britain produced nearly 5 million tonnes of plastic waste in 2014; just 1.2 million tonnes of it was recycled. They estimate that little has changed since then, with less than a third of plastic waste in the country being recycled.

    Aswell as looking at how we can recycle our plastic, we also need to be mindful of reducing it in the first place.

    Reduce - Re-use - Recycle.


    Here are a few simple ways to switch up single-use plastics

     

    Carry a reusable water bottle around with you so you won’t have to buy single use plastic

     

     

    Reusable Bags

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    Buying in Bulk

     

    Using glass storage containers

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    Beeswax wraps

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    Silicone bags instead of cling film/sandwich bags

     

     

     

    Switching from single use

    Bathroom Essentials

     

     

    Say no to Plastic Straws 

    Carry a reusable/bio-degradable straw....or just drink without!


    Reduce 〰️ Reuse 〰️ Recycle