How Common Cosmetic Products Damage Coral Reefs

The Mayan Riviera contains the largest coral reef in the Western Hemisphere. However, commonplace cosmetic products used by tourists threaten its health. A local couple is working hard to change that.

Pancho Mendiola is an avid scuba diver living on the Caribbean shoreline. His wife, Iliana Loza, is a chemical engineer. Together, they are working to spread awareness of how chemicals in ordinary cosmetic products are damaging one of the largest and most beautiful regions in the world: the Mesoamerican Reef. In it lies the largest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere, spanning nearly 700 miles and a diverse array of marine wildlife, including many kinds of coral, fish, turtles and sharks.


The region’s beauty has made its coastal regions a popular attraction for marine life enthusiasts and tourists. Unfortunately, this has led to a lot of pollution in the way of chemicals that hurts the local environment. Large quantities of innocuous chemically derived products such as sunscreen and soaps permeate local waters. Indeed, in Mexico, between 4,000 and 6,000 tons of sunscreen washes off tourists annually. This, in turn, hurts native species. In particular, it harms coral reefs. In response, some areas have made biodegradable sunscreens mandatory.

In any case, high rates of tourism using large quantities of commonplace cosmetic products have inspired locals to advocate on the reef’s behalf. Mission Blue is an organization founded by Sylvia Earle—an accomplished marine biologist, oceanographer, explorer, and subject of a 2015 Emmy Award-winning Netflix documentary—with the aim of cultivating public support for Hope Spots, marine regions that are vital to the well-being of life on Earth. The organizations Communications Strategist Shilpi Chhotray recently wrote an article celebrating the work of Pancho Mendiola. He and his wife work with local communities to spread awareness of the harmful effects of chemicals found in ordinary products. In addition, Mendiola works with the prominent local Hotel Esencia to spread awareness of the ecological issues at stake and to promote the use of organic products.  

The Mayan Riviera community exemplifies hope and effective activism. Chhotray writes,

Pancho and the local community are doing an incredible job fostering dialogue and action on an important issue which is barely discussed. The Mayan Riviera Hope Spot is taking a global concern and activating their citizens to protect their marine environment. Reef safe sunblocks and other cosmetics are essential to protect marine life, as well as the user at hand.

Pancho’s initiative as a local citizen, the community’s support, and the willingness of local business to collaborate for the greater environmental good offers inspiration and hope for ordinary folks to make meaningful differences in protecting life on Earth.

Antimicrobial resistance is a growing threat to good health and well-being

Antimicrobial resistance is growing worldwide, rendering many "work horse" medicines ineffective. Without intervention, drug-resistant pathogens could lead to millions of deaths by 2050. Thankfully, companies like Pfizer are taking action.

Image courtesy of Pfizer.
  • Antimicrobial-resistant pathogens are one of the largest threats to global health today.
  • As we get older, our immune systems age, increasing our risk of life threatening infections. Without reliable antibiotics, life expectancy could decline for the first time in modern history.
  • If antibiotics become ineffective, common infections could result in hospitalization or even death. Life-saving interventions like cancer treatments and organ transplantation would become more difficult, more often resulting in death. Routine procedures would become hard to perform.
  • Without intervention, resistant pathogens could result in 10 million annual deaths by 2050.
  • By taking a multi-faceted approach—inclusive of adherence to good stewardship, surveillance and responsible manufacturing practices, as well as an emphasis on prevention and treatment—companies like Pfizer are fighting to help curb the spread.
Keep reading Show less
Sponsored

22 months of war - condensed in a 1-minute video

No, the Syrian civil war is not over. But it might be soon. Time for a recap

Strange Maps
  • The War in Syria has dropped off the radar, but it's not over (yet)
  • This 1-minute video shows how the fronts have moved – and stabilised – over the past 22 months
  • Watching this video may leave you both better informed, and slightly queasy: does war need a generic rock soundtrack?
Keep reading Show less

Bespoke suicide pods now available for death in style

Sarco assisted suicide pods come in three different styles, and allow you to die quickly and painlessly. They're even quite beautiful to look at.

The Sarco assisted suicide pod
Technology & Innovation

Death: it happens to everyone (except, apparently, Keanu Reeves). But while the impoverished and lower-class people of the world die in the same ol' ways—cancer, heart disease, and so forth—the upper classes can choose hip and cool new ways to die. Now, there's an assisted-suicide pod so chic and so stylin' that peeps (young people still say peeps, right?) are calling it the "Tesla" of death... it's called... the Sarco! 

Keep reading Show less

How to bring more confidence to your conversations

Entrepreneur and author Andrew Horn shares his rules for becoming an assured conversationalist.

content.jwplatform.com
Videos
  • To avoid basing action on external validation, you need to find your "authentic voice" and use it.
  • Finding your voice requires asking the right questions of yourself.
  • There are 3-5 questions that you would generally want to ask people you are talking to.
Keep reading Show less