One of the most biologically rich and vulnerable ecosystems on Earth, coral reefs are extremely important for the planet. Unfortunately, coral reefs are being increasingly threatened by pollution, toxic waste and climate change - potentially dwindling their population.
It’s time to look out for marine life. Here are 5 easy ways you can protect coral reefs to help conserve our planet.
1. Choose ocean-friendly sunscreen:
Majority of sunscreen brands pack their products with chemicals that are extremely harmful to coral reefs. While you are protecting yourself from the UV rays, the coral reefs are suffering the damage when you wash off or swim in the sea.
Ingredients such as oxybenzone and octinoxate are found in more than 3,500 skincare products - most of which are sunscreens. These ingredients have been shown to cause coral bleaching, DNA damage, and growth deformities of new coral. Not only does sunscreen impact coral reefs, it can also negatively affect the health of algae, fish, mussels, and dolphins.
Avoiding chemicals such as oxybenzone and BP-3 is key to protecting marine life. Choose an ocean-friendly sunscreen that avoids using any toxic chemicals that may harm corals. By choosing a marine-friendly sunscreen, you are protecting yourself and the environment.
2. Only use organic fertilizers for your gardening:
Surely the products you use for gardening can’t damage marine life - right? WRONG!
Spreading toxic fertilizers on your lawns can affect soil quality - but it can also leech into the water supply and end up in the oceans. Nutrient run-off, particularly nitrogen from fertilizers, can kill coral reefs once it seeps into the ocean.
Do your part to improve water quality by only choosing organic, natural fertilizers when you are gardening.
3. Use eco-friendly products at home:
What happens to that water when you rinse off your face from face wash? Anything that can seep into your water supply eventually ends up in the ocean - so be mindful of the products you use in your home.
From skincare products to cleaning detergents and beyond, there are many products on the market that are not coral reef friendly.
Where possible, use eco-friendly, organic skincare products that are free from oxybenzone. Avoid exfoliating products with harmful micro-plastics that can damage ocean life. Always opt for paraben-free shampoos and conditioners when washing your hair.
That way, you are not only ensuring that your skin and hair are getting the best natural ingredients, it is also protecting marine life in the process.
4. Reduce your carbon footprint:
Greenhouse gases and car fumes emitted to the atmosphere can directly cause ocean acidification and increase the ocean’s temperature. Acidic and warmer oceans can impact coral reef growth and cause bleaching.
Do your part to reduce climate change by choosing to walk, bike or use public transport. Carpooling is also a great option to cut on costs - and reduce your carbon footprint. This way, you’ll also protect coral reef life.
5. Dispose of waste and recycle correctly
Sadly, at least 8 million tons of plastic waste makes its way to our oceans every
single year. It also accounts for 80% of the marine debris that causes severe damage to ocean life - particularly to coral reefs.
When we don’t dispose of trash properly, the consequences are huge. Take part in choosing products with less packaging where possible. Avoid purchasing plastic bags, straws, and other packaging material that ends up in the oceans.
Make sure you dispose of your waste correctly in the bins provided in order to increase recycling and prevent trash being blown into waterways.
There is so much you can do to reduce your waste at home - from choosing sustainable, recyclable products to opting to buy goods in bulk to minimize packaging, the possibilities are endless.
Marine life is in significant danger - and if we don’t do anything about it, we will face major consequences that can directly affect our lifestyles.
Coral bleaching and mortality has reached 70% in many regions, and will continue to die if we don’t take action.
There are many ways to do your part to conserve the planet at home and save the coral reefs. Recycling, avoiding toxic sunscreen and reducing your carbon footprint are some simple ways you can do to lead a greener life.
Every one of us can make a difference.