Report: Everything Bad


The state legislature of Hawaii has voted to ban certain types of sunscreen—specifically, varieties that contain chemicals that research suggests could be harmful to coral reefs. Well, goddammit. Is there anything that isn’t bad?

The Washington Post reported:

The bill, SB 2571, states that the chemicals, oxybenzone and octinoxate, “have significant harmful impacts on Hawaii’s marine environment and residing ecosystems.” The legislation aims to keep sunscreens that contain those chemicals off store shelves. However, the products would still be available to those who have a prescription from a licensed health-care provider, according to the legislation.

The bill’s author, state Sen. Mike Gabbard (D, Kapolei-­Makakilo), told Honolulu’s Star Advertiser: “When you think about it, our island paradise, surrounded by coral reefs, is the perfect place to set the gold standard for the world to follow. This will make a huge difference in protecting our coral reefs, marine life, and human health.” Coral reefs are under threat around the world, from climate change and other factors—so they can use all the help they can get.

Except, uh, what about how we’re constantly being told to wear sunscreen? NPR reported:

While it doesn’t kick in until 2021, the move is already prompting pushback.
That’s because up to 70 percent of sunscreens on the U.S. market contain oxybenzone, according to the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, which represents sunscreen-makers. Up to 8 percent contain octinoxate, which often shows up on labels as octyl methoxycinnamate.

Well, shit, what are you supposed to do? Certainly not sit inside in the air conditioning, if your goal is to avoid killing the planet. NPR recommends mineral sunscreens, which are widely available if you look instead of just grabbing the first thing you see. Maybe just wrist-length sleeves everywhere? Just sit in a lean-to made of palm fronds like Robinson freaking Crusoe, I don’t know.

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