Protect Your Skin and Protect the Reefs Too


Hanauma Bay

Bina Lee, Staff Writer

The sun’s out. You head out to surf or explore the beautiful beaches and coral reefs, far from the recent volcanic eruptions during your stay in Hawaii. Before spending time outside, though, there’s one more important thing you must do: protect your skin from the sun. You, as a responsible beachgoer, apply the chalky and sticky liquid generously on your skin. But is that sunscreen so responsible? A bill recently passed by Hawaii will make you think twice next time about the sunscreen you use.

The bill in question, Senate Bill 2571, was developed from a petition started by Nova Covington, who founded the organic skincare company Goddess Garden. The petition’s aim was to get the bill signed by Hawaii’s governor, David Ige, with the goal of receiving 50,000 signatures. The bill states that certain chemical ingredients in chemical sunscreens, such as oxybenzone and octinoxate, pose a threat to the marine environment and ecosystems of the state of Hawaii. Oxybenzone has already been detected in popular locations in Hawaii, such as Waimea Bay, Hanauma Bay, and Waikiki Beach on Oahu, as well as Honolua Bay and the Ahihi-Kīnau natural area reserve on Maui. These chemicals intensify coral bleaching and impair the growth of new corals and the reefs’ capability to respond and adapt to factors of climate change. 2571 Bill also argues that “oxybenzone and octinoxate appear to increase the probability of endocrine disruption,” which causes many animals to suffer from reproductive problems and deformities in their embryos.

The bill is currently awaiting the governor’s signature. If signed, it will come into effect, banning sales of the chemical sunblocks beginning on January 1, 2021. Businesses that target tourists, however, have already begun to take action. Some hotels and the Hawaiian airlines which are in favor of environment conservation have promoted natural sunscreens made up of mineral rather than chemical ingredients. Summer is near and if you want the beautiful views at your favorite vacation spots to stay that way, help preserve them by checking the ingredients of your next sunscreen.