Palau’s initiative to ban “reef-toxic” sunscreens awes Okinawan social entrepreneur
A social entrepreneur from the island of Okinawa in Japan has been impressed by Palau’s initiative to become the first nation to ban “reef-toxic” sunscreens that it prompted her to come and visit Palau three days after she had learned about the news.
Yukino Goya, a young Japanese social entrepreneur residing in Okinawa, said that Okinawa and Palau are both the same in a way that they face the same challenges when it comes to protecting corals.
Goya said that like Palau, Okinawa also takes pride of its oceans but has neglected the part of educating the tourists on how to protect it.
“We are getting many tourists and they are new to the beach and we take them to the ocean but we forget to educate them about how to protect it,” Goya said.
Goya, being an islander herself, has developed natural affinity for the oceans and it is for the same reason that she has developed a sunscreen made specifically to protect corals.
Goya said that four years ago, she had been told by a diver that she was harming corals for using sunscreens that contained substances that affect the corals. Alarmed by her own ignorance on the issue, she had researched about the topic online and stumbled upon various studies supporting the claim.
“Four years ago, I was told that I was harming corals because I’m using sunscreen so I was very shocked,” Goya told Island Times in an interview.
Goya then dedicated a year to do research on the subject and eventually come up with a sunscreen product called Coralily which she herself had developed by using only 100% natural ingredients such as Non-nano zinc oxide, sunflower seed oil, titanium oxide, coconut oil, beeswax, simmondsia oil chinensis oil, Tocopheryl acetate and shell ginger oil.
According to Goya, Okinawa and other islands share the same problem on the protection and conservation of their corals.
“It’s been very hard especially talking to tour agencies and diving shops because they don’t really care,” Goya expressed.
Goya’s unique way of promoting the protection of the corals has also earned the attention of Japan-based media, NHK-World, which featured her story. The video of the interview, which is in English, can be viewed via YouTube.
Goya said that she wanted to come to Palau thinking that she might learn something from the nation especially in terms of learning policies and other initiatives that are dedicated in the protecting the oceans.
“I just wanted to come here to check what is going on to deal with this educational stuff,” Goya shared.
Goya said that she is not here to promote her product but to promote the use of sunscreens that are environment-friendly.
Aside from that, she has also warned about sunscreen products labeled “reef-safe” but are actually not. Goya recalled a story about a friend of hers that brought a sunscreen product that has been labeled “reef-safe” but when she checked the ingredients, she saw that it used chemicals that are actually harmful to the corals.
According to Goya, she found out that these companies labeled these products reef-safe only just because they did not contain few chemicals identified by their governments as harmful.
Goya said that she is impressed by Palau’s new law because it listed several chemicals that are identified by scientists as harmful to corals unlike the US State of Hawaii, which also announced banning of reef toxic sunscreens in 2021, only listed few substances. (Rhealyn C. Pojas)