Hawaiian Airlines is making a decision to protect the oceans by giving passengers flying on their planes a free sample of non-toxic sunscreen to all passengers flying from North American to the Hawaiian islands in the month of April.
The decision is definitely a marketing ploy but will also help bring light to the problem that is big-brand sunscreens. The decision is in light of recent research that discovered that two ingredients in common sunscreens, oxybenzone and octinoxate, can cause severe damage to coral reefs.
In recent year’s coral reefs around the world have seen a major decline due to coral bleaching including a 40% decline in Hawaii, 40% decline in the Great Barrier Reef, a 85% decline in the Caribbean and 99% decline in the Florida Keys.
A major cause of this decline is sunscreen pollution. Approximately 14K tons of sunscreen enter waters around corals each year, but that’s only a piece of the problem. Sewage is one of the biggest sources of pollution. Whether you live inland or by the beach, what you put on your body is going to reach our waters. When you shower, it’s going to wash off and end up in our lakes, oceans and rivers. A small amount of these chemicals can cause a lot of damage. As little as 1 drop of oxybenzone in 6.5 olympic sized swimming pools is enough to cause an adverse effect in coral.
The sunscreen being distributed by the airline is from Raw Elements which is a certified as all-natural, chemical-free, and reef-safe.
“Partnering with Hawaiian Airlines to raise awareness of the critical state of Hawaii’s coral reefs is something we are incredibly proud of,” said Brian Guadagno, founder and CEO of Raw Elements. “Together, we are able to positively impact thousands of Hawaii-bound guests per day on safer sunscreen practices and preserving the reefs.”
As well, during the flight, the airline will be screening an education documentary called Reefs at Risk on all of their flights.