Hawaii Just Voted to Ban Sunscreen That Harms Coral

iStock
iStock

The widespread death of coral reefs across the planet's oceans in recent decades is the result of several factors—most of them human-made. Now, Hawaii's legislators have taken a major step toward keeping one notorious coral-killer out of its waters. As Gizmodo reports, Hawaii has passed the first law of its kind banning sunscreens with certain chemicals.

The compounds oxybenzone and octinoxate can be found in more than 3500 of the world's top sunscreen brands. Both serve a key role in chemical sunscreen formulas by protecting skin from UV rays, but once they've washed off into the water, they can have a devastating impact on marine life.

According to a 2015 study published in the journal Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, oxybenzone hurts coral in two ways: It prevents coral larvae from developing normally, and it poisons the symbiotic algae that reside in coral. These algae provide coral with an oxygen source and help clear out their waste, as well as giving reefs their vibrant appearance. If the algae abandon the coral, the reef accumulates waste and gradually turns white—a process know as bleaching. A 2016 study found that octinoxate in addition to oxybenzone can stunt the growth of baby coral.

Sunscreen brands like L’Oréal claim the evidence isn't strong enough to justify the ban, but Hawaii lawmakers felt differently: On Tuesday, May 1, 72 of the state's 76 legislators voted in favor of it. Democratic Governor David Ige has yet to sign the bill into law, but Hawaiian businesses are already clearing their shelves of chemical sunscreens in anticipation of it.

The waters of Hawaii are home to more than 410,000 acres of coral reefs. The island chain also attracts millions of sunscreen-slathered tourists each year, making it a natural spot for the world's first-ever ban on harmful chemical sunscreens. Of all the sunscreen that melts off swimmers' bodies when they enter the ocean, 14,000 tons of it ends up in coral reefs. Banning oxybenzone and octinoxate won't solve the coral bleaching epidemic completely—global warming and ocean acidification are the biggest culprits—but it is a start.

Even if you don't live in Hawaii, you can still choose to buy sunscreen that's easier on the environment. Look for sunscreen brands with simple formulas that feature biodegradable, non-nano-size ingredients (super-tiny nanoparticles in sunscreen are thought to harm marine invertebrates). Instead of these compounds, the brand Stream2Sea uses titanium dioxide coated with alumina to protect against the Sun's rays.

[h/t Gizmodo]

The Northern Lights May be Visible in New York, Michigan, and Illinois on Saturday

iStock.com/den-belitsky
iStock.com/den-belitsky

The Northern Lights, a meteorological event most common to areas north of the Arctic Circle, may be visible over parts of America this weekend, Newsweek reports. Due to a solar storm, the light show may appear Saturday night over states in the northern part of the contiguous U.S., including New York, Michigan, Illinois, and Washington state.

Aurora borealis, or the Northern Lights, occur when solar particles react to gases in Earth's atmosphere. Magnetic energy exaggerates this effect, which is why auroras most often appear at the geomagnetic poles where Earth's magnetic field is strongest. Rare circumstances can produce this phenomenon at lower latitudes, which may be the case this weekend.

On Wednesday, March 20, a solar flare sent a blast of solar particles toward Earth. The resulting geomagnetic storm could make for a vibrant and colorful aurora reaching as far south as New York and Wisconsin.

To catch the spectacle, look up at the night sky on Saturday, March 23. People in areas with minimal light pollution have the best chance of seeing the Northern Lights, though cloudy weather may make them hard to see.

[h/t Newsweek]

The "World's Cleanest Garbage Can" Won't Stink Up Your Kitchen

Canbi
Canbi

Modern living has removed a lot of the sights and smells that people find unpleasant. Exhaust fans sweep away cooking odors. Toilets make waste vanish in seconds. But there's still the dreaded plume of stinking garbage that wafts up every time you open the kitchen trash can.

Enter Canbi, a sharp-looking and cleverly engineered kitchen garbage can designed to both reduce odors and improve the entire waste disposal process. The product, which is currently being funded on Kickstarter, uses an environmentally-friendly deodorizer that utilizes baking soda and activated charcoal to reduce smells coming from the can. It also features a "nesting" liner system that keeps bags from collapsing into the opening and eliminates the chore of fumbling with new bags. Pull one out for disposal, and another is already lining the can. The latex liners are also biodegradable, reducing your reliance on plastic bags that clog landfills.

The large and small sizes of the Canbi garbage can are pictured
Canbi

Canbi is designed to be flaunted, not hidden. Unlike most trash receptacles that are made to be stuffed under the sink or behind a cupboard, the sleek can, which comes in two different sizes, is made to be proudly displayed in your kitchen. The customizable accent rings come in three styles—gold, platinum, and rose gold—so that you can match your can to your favored kitchen aesthetic.

Buy it on Kickstarter. The 3-gallon can is available at the $29 donation level, while the 12-gallon version starts at $52. A 25-pack of replacement liners will be available on Canbi's website for roughly $7.49. Replacement deodorizers, which last three months, will run about $3.75. The trash cans are expected to ship in July.

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