Picture this: You’re in a cute malliot or bikini-top-Daisy-Duke combo, sitting in a bamboo hut on the shoreline. You can smell nothing but the sea breeze and your sunblock while sipping coconut juice from a straw, thinking of heading out for a swim later to see some corals and may pick one or two to turn into a souvenir necklace. Just when you are about to resign to #thatisland life, I’d like to interrupt and say you’re forgetting how, in that sequence, you are most likely harming the sea.
At the Human Nature #SOSCoastival, an event that promises to be an eco-friendly version of Laboracay, we caught up with Save Philippine Seas founder and chief mermaid Anna Oposa, for some real talk on the things you still do on the beach that apparently do damage to our environment.
#1 Using sunblock…
…that contains oxybenzone and other sunscreen formulations that “bleach corals.” Anna tells us that a lot of sunscreens expose corals to chemicals that poison them and the water that prevent other corals from growing.
#2 Sipping your drink through a straw
Whether you are at a restaurant or at your favorite coffee shop, you shouldn’t go for a straw as it is unnecessary waste. Anna shares to us, “There are many cases of sea animals inhaling or ingesting straws and dying. They mistake them for food. Same goes for plastic bags. There’s this documentary showing how in many fish necropsy, a lot of them have plastic in their stomach.” If you can’t get rid of it, invest in reusable straws that come in glass or even bamboo.
#3 Touching sea corals
Other than it being a safety precaution for yourself as some animals or shells can release poison, you’re body’s acidity can affect the corals and cause them to die. “Most corals and critters have a protective coating and when you touch them, you stress them out. When they do get stressed, you damage their protective coating and increase their chances of getting a disease.”
#4 Going for sulfate soap and shampoo
Sodium laureth sulfate (SLS) is common in most shampoo, soap, and detergent formulas. You’d think that this chemical would be useful because of its presence in these products, but it turns out it’s just there to make the soap bubble. What’s worse it that it harms the fishes as it coats their scales, effectively slowing down their movements and poisoning them. “Always check the ingredients of your bath products,” says Anna. “It’s best to go for formulations that are without any sulfates because large quantities end up in the sea and killing the animals.”
#5 Living in ignorance
If all else fails, Anna tells us that it’s our job to make ourselves aware about the things we do that affect the environment. “With the Internet nowadays, we have no excuse to be ignorant,” Anna tells us. “It’s always easy to read up and find some tips and tricks to live an eco-friendly lifestyle.”
Photo courtesy of Human Nature