Just when we think companies are taking promising steps forward, they manage to ruin it with empty promises and changes that are so small you wouldn’t even see them under a microscope. Though greenwashing is nothing new, Banana Boat Sunscreen makes up shameless excuses that seemingly ‘justify’ their claim on sustainability.
Whether it be to protect our skin against UV radiation, avoid sunburn or try to slow down the unavoidable emergence of wrinkles, many of us apply sunscreen on an everyday basis. In fact, most people have at least once in their life jumped into a lake or taken a dip in the ocean on their beach vacation covered in sunscreen. Now, you might ask yourself why is my holiday swim so important? Well, because sunscreen like Banana Boat Ultra Sport can be DEADLY to aquatic biodiversity when exposed to it over long term.
Unfortunately to this company ‘reef friendly’ sunscreen does not mean excluding harmful chemicals, but rather replacing well-known ones such as oxybenzone and octinoxate with ingredients that are just as damaging to marine ecosystems. This is because the two active ingredients in “sustainable” sunscreens (titanium oxide and zinc oxide) are less criticized, laying out the perfect foundation for greenwashing.
But what even are oxybenzone, octinoxate, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.
Well, oxybenzone and octinoxate are organic UV filters that have been found to be both damaging to humans AND animals alike (if you don’t want to make safe sunscreen for reefs then at least do it for the people). Multiple studies show that it has hormone effects on the metabolic system and thyroid production of animals. This is simply NOT acceptable. Titanium and zinc oxide on the other hand lose their protective coating under the influence of UV light, exposing the more toxic titanium dioxide to aquatic biodiversity. It truly reflects how much the company cares for the survival of reefs and other aquatic organisms.
Yet, the company is also a prime example of how important it is to read the fine print.
Banana Boat Sunscreen might say that 100% of their sun-care formulas will become reef friendly by 2022, when in reality existing products with SPF100 will continue to contain oxybenzone and octinoxate. Even then newer products will continue to contain other harmful ingredients.
So... is there really any change at all?