Here in the Philippines, the beach is basically part of our DNA. Whether you’re after the high that water activities can give or simply into soaking up the sun beachside in your kaftan and oversized rims, we are extremely lucky that our many islands give us so many of these sandy havens to choose from. However, with the piercing heat from our tropical sun, no beach trip is complete without our BFF a.k.a. sunblock. But what if we tell you that the very protection you’re using for your skin is potentially harming our seas?
180 meter-long “Save Our Seas” sand art by celebrated muralist and climate justice advocate AG Saño.
Last April 29 to 30, we were treated to a different kind of Labor Day celebration via Human Nature’s S.O.S Coastival—SOS meaning to save our seas, the species, and our skin. Surf spot San Juan, La Union was the perfect venue for the event, but as we took in the beauty of the surfer’s playground, our eyes were also opened to the challenging realities in maintaining such a place.
Did you know that San Juan, La Union is actually a breeding ground for turtles? These very turtles, who feed on jellyfish (another reason to love turtles!) have found refuge in the shores of this province, are at risk because of the growing number of tourists who trash the place. “Only one percent of our [turtle] hatchlings will come back in twenty years. They will come back to hatch in the place where they were born and it’s our task to make sure that they have a home,” shares Toby Tamayo, Founder of Project CURMA.
Over 5,000 metric tons of sunscreen containing coral-bleaching ingredients wash off from swimmers annually,” shares Anna Meloto-Wilk, Co-Founder and President of Human Nature. The problem is that most synthetic sunscreens that contain ingredients like parabens, oxybenzone, and benzophenone can be harmful to our corals. Not only that, your other personal care products such as your facial wash with micro beads, soap, shampoo, even the detergent you use all have chemicals that hurt the seas. Even if water is not your element, there’s no escaping the fact that the ocean generates more oxygen than the world’s forests and that 70% of global citizens depend on protein coming from it.
What can you do?
Human Nature’s local, world-class products are environment-friendly. (Safe Protect sunscreen, P299.75)
Aside from simply not throwing trash (especially plastic) in the ocean, you can start small…in your bathroom. Gill from Finding Nemo was correct when he said that all drains eventually lead to the sea. That said, opt to use earth-friendly products and raise awareness within your group. While planning a beach trip with your family and friends, share with them your new-found knowledge and urge them to switch to products that are kinder. There are simple ways that you can help and be involved, but it can cause such a big impact.
Do you have to wait for this happy place to turn into ghost town before you act? Ask yourself that.