It's finally time to put 2020 behind us! And what better time then the new year to make some life changing resolutions. At P4O, our mission is to better protect your skin while taking action to preserve our oceans and save endangered coral reefs. So here are 3 easy ways to do just that...
Save Your Skin
1. Wear natural sunscreen every day, and all year round
Dermatologists are unanimous: regular sunscreen application (even on cloudy days) is your number one defence against sunburns, long-term UV damages and chances of developing skin cancer. Remember however that not all sunscreens are created equal. Recent studies by the FDA show that, due to their systematic absorption within the body, chemically-laden sunscreens may be doing more harm than good… from dermatitis reactions to hormonal disruption. More troubling, is that sunscreen chemicals can be measured in blood after just a single use, and many sunscreen ingredients have been detected in breast milk and urine samples.
A safe option to protect your skin without polluting your body is to opt for mineral sunscreen alternatives. Mineral sunscreens are considered safer as the UV-blockers they contain create a physical shield on top the skin. Absorption studies have shown that physical UV-blockers, such as zinc oxide (even in its nano form) do not absorb into the skin or enter the bloodstream. These UV-blockers also best perform at blocking both UVA and UVB rays. Double tick!
2. Add a broad-brim hat on sunny days
During summer, the Earth's orbit brings Australia closer to the sun (as compared to Europe during its summer), resulting in an additional 7% solar UV intensity. Coupled with our thinner atmospheric conditions (ozone layer), this means that Australians are exposed to up to 15% more UV than Europeans.
Wearing a broad-spectrum hat gives you that extra protection (and style!), particularly on sensitive areas subjected to daily UV stress, such as your nose, cheek bones, top of ears & shoulder, and scalp. And remember, reflection off water can increase UV exposure by up to 50%, sand can reflect 25% and snow up to 80%. This means that, even with a hat on, you are still exposed, so remember to apply your sunscreen regardless.
If you forgot your hat, seek some shade. This can reduce UV exposure by half and give your skin a break on those high UV-index days.
3. Protect your skin while driving
UVA rays can penetrate car windows, so while you are stuck in traffic, your skin is being subjected to ageing rays, particularly on your hands and forearms. Protect your skin from chronic traffic sun stress by applying sunscreen on your hands and forearms before buckling up! Make it convenient by keeping a tube of your favourite mineral sunscreen in the glove box or door compartment. The same applies if your office desk is located near a window… so keep an extra tube of SPF handy at work too.
Save Coral Reefs
1. Be Carbon wise
One of the biggest challenge coral reefs are facing this century is the increased frequency and intensity of stressful bleaching events, a direct consequence of our oceans’ warming surface caused by climate change. So whether you live on a beachfront or landlocked miles away from the ocean, your carbon footprint can have a direct impact on the future of reefs on the other side of the Planet. Reducing your carbon emissions is a great way to help out reefs, because it is mitigating climate change.
Buying a smaller car, driving less and car-pooling, insulating your home, reducing plane travels, cutting down on your meat intakes, eating local food and buying domestically-made goods (and less goods in general) are all impactful ways to reduce your energy consumption and carbon footprint as an individual or as a family. This is undeniably the most significant and easy way any of us can help reefs (and countless other ecosystems) on a day to day basis.
2. Plant Trees
One of the most efficient way to store carbon dioxide is one that has been done by plants for millions of years through photosynthesis. A mature tree absorbs carbon dioxide at a rate of 48 pounds per year. In one year, an acre of forest can absorb twice the CO2 produced by the average car's annual mileage. For this simple reason, Afforestation (planting trees in places naturally without trees) and reforestation (planting trees in deforested areas) are common practices that can enhance carbon uptake.
If you have a garden, plant native trees! They will increase soil complexity, cool down your land by bringing shade and moisture, and attract bees and local wildlife such as native birds. If you are limited in space or live in an apartment, there are many organisations that organise planting events or offer to plant trees on your behalf to reforest Australia, such as reforestnow.org.au, trilliontrees.org.au, greencollar.com.au and greeningaustralia.org.au.
3. Make the switch to reef-friendly sunscreen
The state of Hawaii, along with nations like Mexico and Palau, have banned two of the most common sunscreen ingredients as a measure to protects their coral reefs from toxic pollution and long-term damage. The sunscreen you put on your skin eventually contaminates rivers and oceans, whether it is from direct wash off during aquatic activities, in the shower, or whether it goes down the drain when excreted by your urine.
A good way to limit your impact on aquatic ecosystems while ensuring your skin is well protected against UV rays is to opt for a mineral-based reef-friendly sunscreen option. Zinc oxide-based sunscreens are considered the least impactful for the environment, and for your health. Choosing a water-resistant option further reduces wash off (and protects you for longer). If you are spending extensive time in the sun, remember to combine sunscreen application with protective clothing such as a wetsuit or a rash vest.
Using a reef-friendly sunscreen can also be a great conversation starter to raise awareness on the impacts reefs worldwide are facing – including sunscreen pollution - and the health drawbacks of chemical-based sunscreens for personal health. Talk about it with your friends and family, encouraging them to protect more than their skin in 2021!