by Julia Comerford, Youth Environmental Stewardship Committee, Surfrider Pacific Rim

Normally, I would default to writing a pretty depressing environmental article, but not today! This emerging sense of environmental optimism could be credited to the last few weeks of sunny weather, as I can’t deny that little glimmers of hope for the planet are shining through lately, like flowers in the cracks of the pavement.

Most of these flowers, to me, are taking on the form of individuals turning to do-it-yourself alternatives over the store-bought cultural stronghold most of us grew up into. Flooding in from the peripheral are signs of regenerative change. You might notice more homemade beeswax food wraps drying in friend’s dish racks, or look down and realize everything you’re wearing is second-hand. Rather than the old stigma, there is now an emerging cause for celebration for all that which has been patched up, repurposed, rinsed and refilled.

These are small victories but ones that represent junctures of reflection; choices we make where the health of our planet has popped into our heads before we tapped the debit machine.

Moving now into an example of personal transformation that I’ve witnessed over the past few years: my friend Danielle Lapointe. When I first met Dani back in 2014, her purchasing habits were pretty much on par with most young adults on a shoestring budget – frozen pizzas accompanied by a family sized bottle of ranch dressing (“food is just a vehicle for sauce”- Dani), and as far as beauty products go, detangling using the little sample bottles of shampoo and conditioner we’d glean from the resort we worked at.

Flash forward to this spring, Dani is now the founder of a line of ocean-friendly beauty products called Green Room Body Co.

Green Room was birthed out of necessity while Dani was traveling in Baja last winter. She was reading “There is Lead in your Lipstick” at the time, and while learning about harmful chemicals in traditional big brand shower products, sunscreens, and cosmetics, she felt immense guilt for bathing in the ocean and surfing every day. Coupled with living in such a tiny space and without waste management infrastructure, her eyes were opened to the necessity for less packaged, and ecofriendly beauty products that would benefit  both the health of ourselves and aquatic systems.

Dani traded in the wetsuit for a lab coat and started creating safer alternatives for friends. Dani’s line of zinc sunscreen, soaps, shampoos, conditioners (even baby shampoo!), are an inspiring example of DIY devotion and ocean-mindedness that is cause for celebration.

With it quickly becoming full-on summer here on the coast, many will flock again to the beaches and lakes. This presents an opportunity where we can all do our small part as well by choosing sunscreen, soaps, and so on that will minimize our harm to the bodies of water we’re playing in. Not only are you potentially slathering your body with very damaging chemicals, but while lake-bathing and surf-playing, these chemicals also make their way into water systems where they persist and harm aquatic communities.

With water health in mind, we could all give a double-take at the ingredient lists on our dish soaps, laundry detergent, shampoos and so on. Before you take that early morning lake bath while camping, look out for BHA, BHT, DEA, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, and Triclosan – all of which are commonly found in many bubbly shampoos, cleansers and soaps. These chemicals are known to cause cancer and disrupt hormone function in humans, while also being harmful to fish and wildlife once washed into marine ecosystems. You can find the whole list of chemicals to avoid in products at www.DavidSuzuki.org/whatsinside.

In the sunscreen department, opt for sunscreens that don’t contain any of the Dirty Dozen chemicals, but also keep a close watch for commercial sunscreens that list oxybenzone as an ingredient. A University of Central Florida study found oxybenzone to be extremely harmful to coral development and a main cause for coral bleaching. Annually, 14,000 tons of sunscreen are washed through water systems and directly into oceans, contributing to the death of these vital marine ecosystems (Source: ethicalunicorn.com). Instead, purchase natural sunscreens and look for zinc as a natural UV-blocking alternative to toxic oxybenzone.

This summer, try to avoid the “Dirty Dozen” list of chemicals and choose natural sunscreens whenever possible–whether you’re lake bathing, surfing, or just plain showering. These small shifts are healthier for humans, work to regenerate the environment, and can be an opportunity to support the growing numbers of DIY makers in your community. Support the planet, support your friends!

To learn more about Dani’s ecofriendly line, visit www.instagram.com/greenroombodyco/