When we talk about protecting the environment and combating pollution, our mind usually goes to causes and causers that are difficult for us as citizens to influence, such as industrial pollution. Frequently do not think about the large environmental footprint caused by our daily consumption habits, i.e. the personal hygiene products, cosmetics and cleaning products that we use and end up in the marine environment, polluting it with the harmful or toxic chemicals they may contain.
In the difficult battle that Archipelagos Institute is giving for the protection of our seas, it is very important to have the citizens on our side, as each of us can make a difference if we change our daily consumption habits. Especially those related to the heavy footprint that we cause daily to the natural environment, often unintentionally.
With this goal, the Archipelago Institute joins forces mainly with Greek companies that have made the conscious decision to improve their products, by reducing and gradually eliminating the dangerous chemicals they contain. Their desire is to contribute in practice both to the protection of the health of their consumers, as well as to the effects of the use of their products on the natural environment.
This is the context, on which the cooperation with the company KORRES is based, that shares the same philosophy and principles, having invested since the 90’s in natural products, while with its wide and international communication network can significantly contribute to spreading the message and raising public awareness for the protection of our seas.
As a first step of this synergy, a joint online press conference was held with a great response from over 300 journalists and influencers from 10 countries, with the aim of raising awareness on issues of marine conservation. The occasion for the press conference was the new environmentally friendly sunscreen collection now available on the international market, but also the support from Korres Athens on the important action of Archipelagos Institute regarding the underwater replanting of the Posidonia Seagrass meadows.
The forests of our seas
Although the Posidonia Seagrass meadows are protected as a priority habitat, having great importance for the health and productivity of our seas, only a few know it and more are those who avoid them when they encounter them in coastal waters. It is noteworthy that they are an important ally in combating the effects of climate change, as they absorb up to 35 times more carbon than the rainforests. More than 300 species of algae and 1,000 species of marine animals find shelter in the meadows. Due to their particularly slow growth rate (6cm / year), when a Posidonia meadow in deeper waters is destroyed, it may take over 100 years to regrow. This gives us a great responsibility here in Greece, as some of the last extensive Posidonia Seagrass meadows that have remained in the world, still survive in our waters. And for those who do not understand the importance of natural resources, we emphasize the value of ecosystem services offered to humans by the Posidonia Seagrass Meadows, which according to relevant research is estimated to be up to € 150,000,000 / km2.
One of our daily consumption habits that cause a heavy footprint on the marine ecosystems and species is the widespread use of common sunscreens, most of which contain chemicals that are ecotoxic to marine ecosystems and harmful to humans. For example, the silicones they contain can settle at the sea floor and burden the species that live on it, while many of the chemical filters they contain are toxic to marine fauna and also inhibit the photosynthesis of marine plants.
We can imagine how important the impact caused is in Greece, where in a normal year there are over 34 million visitors. With a conservative estimate of the use of 1 bottle of sunscreen / person, cumulatively together with the Greek population it is estimated that at least 11,000m3 (4,000 tons) of sunscreen are consumed per year, a significant part of which ends up in marine ecosystems. So we can contemplate on the dramatic effects that this has on marine life.
Our ultimate goal is to see more and more products change in this direction, but also for more and more citizens to make conscious choices to reduce the footprint that their daily life leaves on the natural environment.