Palau is an island nation that’s located in the western Pacific Ocean. If you’ve never heard of it, don’t feel bad—you’re probably not alone. It’s actually made up of 500 small islands in Micronesia and is home to a little over 21,000 people. Pardon the pun, but the little country is making some pretty big waves recently because it’s the first country to put a nationwide ban on the use of chemical sunscreens.
The citizens have been happy that the tourist industry has increased in recent years, but that has also resulted in an increase in environmental issues. The sunscreen ban is a major step in fixing those issues. A big portion of the overall plan is to actually educate visitors as to the reason for the ban.
No more sunscreen products can be sold as of January 2020. The importing of sunscreen products has ceased immediately, but stores will still be able to sell them until the 2020 date. Once the ‘no sale’ date has arrived, any store caught selling sunscreen products can be fined up to $1,000.
Hawaii initiated a similar band after providing solid evidence that the chemicals in sunscreen can damage coral reefs. Specifically, the chemicals can disrupt the endocrine production in some animal species, causing reproductive disease and birth defects. In addition, the chemicals bleach sensitive corals and make them more susceptible to climate change.
Research has estimated that as much as 14,000 tons of sunscreen gest washed off the skin of people entering the water each year. That’s a LOT of ground to make up and Palau’s ban is setting a good example. Plus, it’s not that big of a deal for swimmers. There are more and more non-chemical sunscreens becoming available every day. The main ingredients in these products are zinc oxide and titanium oxide, which will allow you to cover yourself in the products without worrying about harming the environment.
Palau’s ban is one that should be emulated by any country that not only wants to protect the environment but that also wants to make their country a more desirable place to visit and live.