Coral-friendly Sunblock

Did you know that there are areas in which you are not allowed to use regular sunblock? In Mexico for example, there are several marine parks (Cozumel, Chankanaab, Xcaret, Xel Ha, and Garrafon) where you can't swim while wearing regular sunblock, so you'll need an alternative. 

So why are you not allowed to wear normal sunblock? Sunblock, just like other body products, contains a lot of chemicals. Some of these chemicals such as oxybenzone (sometimes listed as benzofenon-3 or bp-3) (which can also have a bad impact on human health Because of its toxicity to the algae living in symbiosis with the corals, oxybenzone disrupts the normal cycle of corals and can therefore cause changes in their reproduction and growth. A laboratory study showed that even in minimal concentrations of sunblock, already resulted in viral infections which could lead to coral bleaching ( And not only wearing the sunblock in the water results in pollution, also washing off sunblock in the shower and using sunblock spray on the beach can be very detrimental. 

Many coral reefs are currently at risk of bleaching, one of the most well-known being the Great Barrier reef. Since coral reefs provide one of the major sources of biodiversity in the ocean, it is very important to keep them intact. Therefore there are some options to reduce your impact and to be able to swim anywhere. The best is, of course, to not use any product. However, it is important to protect yourself against the sun. Here you can see a list of harmful ingredients that can be in sunblock. So you can look for one that doesn't contain these ingredients. It is hard to find coral friendly sunblock on the internet, but one sunblock I know of is Sovee. Abroad you can find many sunblocks stating they are eco-friendly, however, I recommend to not always trust these labels but really check the ingredients. And in places where you can't swim without coral-friendly sunblock you can be sure that you can buy it somewhere. 

Well, if you know of any coral-friendly sunblocks, please let me know! You can leave the links below :) 


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Travelling sustainably and ethically: tips & tricks

Travelling sustainably and ethically: tips & tricks


Hey everyone, 

Today I want to talk about travelling sustainably and ethically, since I think these are two of the most important things if you want to keep travelling and enjoying cultures/natures. 

So much can be learnt through travelling. It is meaningful and wonderful and gives us the opportunity to explore other ways of thinking, other cultures, other perspectives on things and not to mention a great variety of beautiful ecosystems. It is easy to assume that the way we do things here is the right way, that how we live, is how it should be, but travelling can totally mess this idea up, in a good way :). However, tourism can also put great stress on other cultures and ecosystems. Whole societies can change and disappear if tourism is performed in an unsustainable way. In this day and age in which travelling is so popular, easy and cheap, it is therefore very important to travel sustainably to sustain a place and its character. 

So what makes travelling sustainable? Many ideas and opinions exist about this, but I think it comes down to focussing on these things: respect, ethics, eco-tourism. Again, these terms can be interpreted in multiple ways of course haha. 

Respect is one of the main things if you want to be accepted into a culture, but also preserve a culture. Respect begins with researching the country you're visiting. This means looking into the culture, the rules, the unwritten rules and sometimes even the language if you're up for it. Getting to know a culture before you see it (by reading, watching movies/documentaries, researching the internet) can already increase your respect for it. Even though you might already think you are respectful, understanding exactly what and why will help you to act on it even better! And, it's also great fun to know so much about a culture. You can talk to local people about it, or explain things to other tourists which in turn helps them to travel more sustainably as well. 

Being respectful and being ethical has a lot in common. However, being ethical to me means that you are aware of what you do and how you do it, and that you really try to limit any negative impact you can have on cultures/environments. This means that for everything you decide to do, you do some research on how, why, where and by whom. So if you want to visit a local village for example, how is the trip conducted, what are the real reasons behind the trip (making money or supporting the local industry?), where are you going (what kind of village is it? Are they real local places, or are they places set up for tourism and making money?) and who is conducting the tour (is it local, what do they spend the profit on? etc). Of course, some of these things are really difficult to find out, but by trying to dig deeper than just booking the first cheap option, you might really have a positive impact on local cultures and help in preserving them. The same can be important for animal/wildlife shelters. 

Ecotourism, a term defined by the World Conservation Union as "Environmentally responsible travel to natural areas, in order to enjoy and appreciate nature (and accompanying cultural features, both past and present) that promote conservation, have a low visitor impact and provide for beneficially active socio-economic involvement of local peoples." As you can read In ecotourism a big part of the money made by tourism is usually put into conservation practices, like tree planting, preserving lands or helping animals. This goes hand-in-hand with cultural conservation. It's all about minimising your impact on the environment and being aware of what you can do (through tourism) to preserve the country you're visiting. Again, you can do research on the impacts of certain things you want to do. You can also find out which place you should and shouldn't visit by reading reviews for example. For example in Thailand, elephant riding can be a very popular activity for tourists, but it is terrible for the elephants. If you do want to see an elephant though, or maybe even be super close to one, you can visit an animal/elephant shelter where the elephants live that were rescued from these terrible circumstances. Often, you can also volunteer at these places which helps them in taking care of the animals and sheltering more animals. 

If you want to know more about eco-tourism, check out this page for example:

Well, I think it's all about pre-reading, which is also a fun way to prepare for your travels. Learning about a country can help you in making sustainable decicions. Travel in a local way, eat in a local way and sleep locally, this can all help in preserving nature, food and whole cultures. If you have more suggestions, let me know! Good luck with planning your sustainable travels :). 





I booked a flight, now how do I compensate?

I booked a flight, now how do I compensate?


Alright, I did it! I booked a flight to Japan because of a job interview (they didn't want to do it over skype because I should get to know the company). I couldn't pass the chance for something I always wanted to do, so against my own moral judgement I'm going to Japan for 2 weeks in August. However, since I'll be adding an enormous load of CO2 and other gasses into the air, I want to find a sustainable and ethical way to compensate for this. Let me take you with me in this quest, so maybe you can use the info too!

~reminder, NOT flying is ALWAYS better than compensating! ~

Nowadays, many airlines offer flight compensation. However, I'm not to keen on compensating through an airline company since I don't trust them too much and I think they probably go for the easy options. So I decided to arrange my own compensation, starting with finding out how polluting my trip would be. 

1. Calculating emissions
I read about flight pollution. Flying is not just about adding CO2 to the atmosphere. Science has pointed out that there are many more detrimental effects of flyings, the biggest ones according to Atmosfair are "The CO₂ as a direct by-product of combustion, the formation of cirrostratus clouds and/or contrails (linear clouds), the formation of the greenhouse gas ozone in a sensitive level of the atmosphere, and the cooling effect of methane decomposition". If you want to know more about this, then check out their page The table can be a bit confusing, but it shows that for example ozone formation because of flying is almost as polluting as the CO2 (80% effects of the same amount of CO2). The effects of flights on climate change are usually much higher than only shown through the CO2 values. Therefore I also don't trust big aviation companies, since they probably don't take this fully into account.

Then, there is another very useful tool which can be found on the atmosfair website, namely the airline index ( If you click on the latest document, you can see how well the airline you're flying with scores. I'm rather dissapointed and I should have checked this before I booked, since my airline is in category D, which is not very good. When scanning through this document (tip: use ctrl+f) keep in mind that the airline scores differently for different distances. I would recommend you to definitely check out this website before you book a flight! oops.. 

The third tool, from the same website, is the flight emission calculator Of course, they can't take into account everything like the weather on that day, or the amount of luggage etc etc., but at least you can get a good idea about how much you should compensate. In my case, and I'm afraid to admit it, I have to compensate for 5515 kg of CO2, which costs me 128 euros. They also show a comparison to other emissions, which is quite shocking. The average per capita emission in India in one full year for example is 1600 kg CO2 and the total amount of emissons I could spend in one year to retain a healthy climate is 2300 kg, which is less than half of what I am emitting through going to Japan for two weeks... and I'm not even talking about my other ways of emitting CO2 now.. (like electricity use, food, garbage etc). So yeah, I feel terrible, but at least I can do a little bit to compensate for it now. 

2. Finding compensation
So, let's focus on something positive: how can I reduce my gigantic amount of global warming contribution? I have googled with the terms ethical and sustainable CO2 compensation since not every compensation scheme is a good one. A while ago for example, I watched a zembla episode ( it is in Dutch, sorry) which talked about CO2 compensation through planting trees on other peoples land in Uganda, a terrible thing. After my search I found three websites that seem good to me: (a certified B corporation), (which is gold standard certified) and (which is also gold standard certified). Compensating through atmosfair is easy, since you can just use the calculation tool, and then click continue which will give you the option of choosing projects followed by a payment. 

If compensating thorugh Greenseat you can do the same, however, they will give you a much lower price (for me around 17 euros) and I think this is because they only count the CO2 emissions and also don't take into account what type of plane you use. So I would prefer atmosfair over greenseat because they seem to be more inclusive about all the other ways of airpollution. 

Climatecare also has some great projects. Through their calculator tool you can do the same as with the other two options. This calculator gives me a price of 23 pounds, which is higher than Greenseat, but much lower than atmosfair. You can check the option of compensating for 10% more, but this is still a lot less than 128 euros. Therefore I am more prone to compensate through atmosfair since I believe they are a trustworthy organisation and try to really compensate for everything, even though it is much more expensive. However, I do still think the other organisations are also good! 

Well, now I'm going to sleep on it for a night and ask a friend of mine who recently compensated for his flights for some recommendations and then, when I get my internship compensation I will start compensating! I feel a bit better now since I now that I can partly reduce my emissions :). Of course, I'm not a business person who flies a couple of times per year/week/month, but even my emissions matter and every small step of reducing them helps! 

Let me know if I was of any help to you and if you have any additional tips/recommendations, also leave a comment :). 


Comments, Compliments & Kudos

Coral reef

... It is indeed an option to wear no sun block at all, and instead a shirt with sleeves. Thanks for sharing alternatives, Hannah! :) Very important to raise awareness. See also: I met a person a while ago, who told me about her sisters project, aiming at protecting and restoring coral reef in Thailand. Inspiring project! The shared link is from their project... :)

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