Young activists begin campaign for reef-safe sunscreen

| 29/06/2022 | 25 Comments
Cayman News Service
POF campaign for reef-safe sunscreen

(CNS): The student-led environmental advocacy group, Protect Our Future, has launched a new campaign to promote the use of reef-safe sunscreen brands in the Cayman Islands. Sunscreen chemicals, such as oxybenzone and octinoxate, are known to contain nanoparticles that disrupt the growth cycles of reef corals, cause coral bleaching, and lower their defences against diseases such as stony coral tissue loss disease (SCTLD). As the summer begins, POF is pushing for a ban on products that are not safe for reefs.

The campaign slogan, “Our future screams for reef-safe sunscreen”, was chosen by POF member Connor Macdonald and his team to reflect the current state of local reefs and the changes needed to ensure their continued health.

This is the latest in a series of social media and image-led campaigns where the young activists take interesting and relevant images while promoting their messages on huge banners. Using slogans such as “Our future is not single-use” and “Planting trees is our future”, the students have worked hard to raise awareness locally of several environmental challenges.

With stony coral tissue loss disease now affecting dozens of coral species all around Grand Cayman, POF said, “It is imperative to prevent further reef damage by tackling the sunscreen use on our islands.”

The ‘Sunscreen Team’ conducted extensive research and found that the use of reef-safe sunscreen and the banning of harmful sunscreens would have a dramatic impact on the marine environment. The students had been lobbying the government about this issue but they are now focused on educating the public as the use of sunscreen increases in the hotter weather.

POF wants the Cayman Islands to join Hawaii, Key West, Bonaire, Mexico, Palau, Aruba and the US Virgin Islands in banning sunscreen that is not reef-safe and are beginning to see the positive consequence of healthier reefs.

The students propose initial action to begin discouraging the use of the harmful chemicals while promoting reef-safe sunscreen chemicals such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, and then phasing out and eventually banning brands containing oxybenzone and octinoxate.

“The time to act is now,” the activists said in a release about the new campaign. “With the island quickly opening up to tourism, it is more important than ever to educate the public on the issue and try to preserve as much of our reefs as possible.”


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Category: Marine Environment, Science & Nature

Comments (25)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Just returned from visiting Hawaii. They post signs at local snorkelling spots to educate people on what harmful chemicals to avoid. Their stores only sell sunscreens that don’t contain the chemicals. Makes sense for Cayman to adopt this practice. Hawaii also has a ban on single use plastics (grocery store bags and straws were both made from paper). Being there as a tourist, I felt like I was doing my part in protecting the reef.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Kirks has a big selection of reef safe creams

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  3. Anonymous says:

    What brands are “reef safe”?
    Are sunscreens labelled as such?
    Tell everyone so some of us can make the change in our purchasing.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    Coconut oil works just as good if not better. I was upset I barely got a tan.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I prefer Crisco myself

    • Forman says:

      You preach it girl. The poshy johnny come lately kiddos will never truly know how we had to tackle that old hot sun back in our day…

      Why not rally for??

      1) A consumer protection law; to hit CUC and so much others back!

      2) Proper education standards; this way private companies will no longer have an excuse for hiring outsiders.

      3) Equal rights for Caymanians; to atleast own a piece of paradise before someone else shafts the elders and scoops it all up.

      None of these 3 include taking group pics due to boredom
      and protesting for natural sunscreen or plastic free pipe dreams…

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    • Beaumont Zodecloun says:

      No, it doesn’t. Coconut oil is a wonderful oil with medium-length triglycerides much as olive oil, however it is an OIL. You are free to cook in the sun if you choose, but you should not encourage others to do so.

      It is NOT a sunscreen.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    Which common ingredients should we avoid? Need more info.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Read the article!! Clearly states ingredients to avoid. Or look for those that state ‘reef safe’.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    Good gesture, but this is like firing nuclear missles at hurricanes as cruise ships drop anchors on reefs.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    It would be helpful if there was a list of approved sunscreens available.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    What happened to the single use plastic campaign?

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  9. Anonymous says:

    Boy I tell ya it like I can smell when cruise ships are in from the prominent smell of sunscreen literally everywhere

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  10. Anonymous says:

    You’d be hard pressed to find much sunscreen sold locally that isn’t considered reef safe.

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  11. Anonymous says:

    Keep up the good work!

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  12. Anonymous says:

    Waste of time. The death of our shallow reefs are inevitable.

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    • Anonymous says:

      By that logic all doctors can go to the beach since death is inevitable. Pass me my cigarette.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Thing is, you’re not wrong. The world would be in a far better state without doctors, who are in part responsible for overpopulation and its environmental consequences.

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    • Forman says:

      All due to ignorance

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