What Does "Ocean Safe" Actually Mean?

You’ve emerged from the salty sea after a session catching waves. Although we would love to stay sunkissed and salty all day, other life priorities pull us from our ocean oasis. A quick trip to the beach shower for a freshwater rinse helps to remove that sticky and salty grime. Fixed on the shower, a sign reads “Please, no soaps or shampoos in shower area,” and it gets you thinking... all drains lead to the ocean, right?

No soaps image

Reef Safe Products 

Over the last several years, there have been campaigns to increase education and awareness for what products we put on our bodies in preparation to venture into aquatic environments and the impacts associated when those products wash off. By now, I’m hoping that you are least somewhat familiar with the term “Reef Safe” when it comes to sunscreen. Few people would argue the importance of sun protection, but unfortunately many sunscreens of our past have had harmful side effects to our favorite aquatic environments. 

Because of increased social awareness and education, policies have been put into place to ban the sale of sunscreens containing harmful chemical ingredients. As of January 2021, Hawaii has placed a ban on the sale of sunscreens containing the top two chemical offenders, oxybenzone and octinoxate, and several other locations have followed suit. 

reef sfae

Now wait! Before you purge your cabinets of items not deemed reef safe, consider utilizing these products for land based activities. The revolution doesn’t happen overnight, and we don’t want to waste, especially when tossing bottles into the trash means lost product AND un-recycled containers. (Wait, “Reef Safe”? Why are my reef safe products coming in single-use plastic?! Excellent question, my friend. Stay tuned.) Use what you have to play ultimate, pick-up soccer, go on a hike or walk (sorry, no waterfalls), or other activities that won’t wash your products off into water systems. Chemical sunscreens do break down and get absorbed the longer you wear them, but if you need to rinse off after an activity, try wiping down with a towel first before hopping in the shower. It’s not a fool-proof solution, but it's a start!

Transition when you can from chemical to physical sunscreens. Look for zinc or titanium oxide in the ingredient list, or start by browsing for Reef Safe Sunscreens here

Reef Safe ≠ Ocean Safe 

When an item is labeled “Reef Safe”, it often refers to the product inside a container or component, and that’s really it. Unfortunately “Reef Safe” doesn’t encompass the ingredient sourcing, processing system, packaging mechanisms, transportation costs, and waste placement. Ultimately, the final products often come in a plastic tube or aerosol spray can that are often not recycled. 

plastic from sunscreen bottles reef safe sunscreens

Photos of mineral based sunscreens. Many cans and bottles go unrecycled and come wrapped with protection seals. 

Now, I know what you’re thinking, and I’ve been there before, too. There doesn’t seem to be any solution that can be made that benefits the user and the environment. Everything has a cost, and I. CAN’T. WIN!

Yes, we can!  

When we say that our products are Ocean Safe, we mean that our products have been intentionally selected and carefully researched to ensure highest quality with the least amount of impact to the environment. We are ever evolving, and when new information arises and access to improving systems, we update our ingredients and processes to hold ourselves accountable to the sustainability journey. 

 friends on the beach

To be "Ocean Safe", our products are as locally sourced as possible, drastically cutting down on travel emissions and supporting our local economy. Each product is handmade with care and sold in bundles to maximize each shipping use. As for our packaging, we repurpose! Any packaging received with ingredient orders are re-used, biodegradable packing peanuts are dissolvable in water, our products come in reusable and recyclable aluminum or glass - no plastic. Ever.

Reef Safe is important, no arguments there, but let’s make Ocean Safe a priority. If we can think more about holistic Ocean Safe products, the reefs benefit, but we tap into other systemic issues contributing to the Climate Crisis.  After all, the oceans connect us, comfort us, inspire us, and give us life. 

Let’s make the Oceans Safe for all.



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