You’re sitting at the beach, wind rushing through your hair and the sun is tickling your face. Summer is coming. In Kiel summer means enjoying long beach days, watching kiteboarders and surfers on their adventurous rides on the Baltic sea and once more recognizing the smell of Sunscreen in the air. Protecting your skin against sunburn is important and preventive against skin cancer. Unfortunately, sunscreens are mostly made with chemical UV-filters and other ingredients that can be harmful for our health. Additionally, through water sports and sunbathing these harmful ingredients find their way into the marine ecosystem. FHews spoke to Jasmin Rötzer about sustainable sunscreen and how she and her team from Sun L’Ocean are protecting the ocean.

The charitable association Sun L’Ocean started as a project in October 2018. “Our aim is to reduce the pollution of the ocean with sunscreen ingredients, that are harmful for marine organisms, like chemical UV-filters, mineral oil components, and nanoparticles. For this purpose, we provide environmental education workshops at watersport events free of charge and give guidance to produce a self-made sustainable sunscreen from mostly regional components”, Jasmin explains. The idea for the workshops arose within a University course called “Changemaker and Social Entrepreneur” in the School of Sustainability connected to Jasmin’s studies at the CAU.

“At the seminar in winter term 19/20, we got a lot of guidance how to develop such a rough idea into a real-life project, how to set realistic goals following the slogan “Think global, act local” and the important questions to realize the project finally and transfer it from a concept to real-life action.”

Jasmin Rötzer

Jasmins explains FHews the main environmental problem they approach with their idea: “Several studies active substances of a lot of sunscreen products prove leisure activities in and on the water as a major source of pollution. Considering human health, the above-mentioned ingredients can trigger contact allergies or have hormonal effects.” Jasmin also clarifies that in fish, chemical UV filters can limit their reproductive success. Also, these substances can be enriched in the food chain and the use of nanoparticles can enhance processes such as coral bleaching.

The idea of Sun L’Ocean is not only protecting the marine ecosystem but it is also sustainable, zero waste and connected to regional products. Jasmin says, “More than educating about the ingredients in sunscreens, we want to motivate people to produce their own sunscreen by developing an environmentally friendly alternative themselves.”

Organizing and planning a project like Sun L’Ocean is only possible with a good team spirit, creativity, commitment and the belief in your own idea. At the moment Jasmin explains, that they are an active team of 10 to 15 people, coming from different backgrounds, participating to implement the sun L’Ocean summer season 2020. When organizing such a big project there are always times when the team is struggling. For Jasmin the first time was when her team partner Anna moved to Australia, “It was clear that I could not do the project all by myself, so how to find new teammates?” The problem was solved through Jasmin’s motivated flatmate who did not only bring a bunch of friends with him but also had a lot of new expertise. Another big and important topic is financing. “As the funding application for the yooweedoo Idea contest 2019 was rejected Sun L’Ocean was nearly canceled. Having the right people at the right time in the team helps a lot. We all believed in our idea and financed the first year by our own investments and the donations, we got by the workshop participants.” They borrowed 90 percent of all equipment from friends and family to realize the workshops.

Due to Corona doing workshops at the beach will not be possible this year, but the team of Sun L’Ocean is solving this problem by finalizing the development of the Sun L’Ocean DIY-Boxes. “At the moment we are developing boxes to do the sunscreens at home. We hope that we can sell them at the end of next month in regional stores in Kiel and on our website.” The boxes contain all ingredients you need, packed as far as possible zero waste or in reusable containers and a guide on how to do them.

“Watch out for the DIY-Boxes and give it a try to produce your own sunscreen. Or just tell your friends about the problem as this is still a highly unknown topic,” Jasmins suggests.

DIY-Box from Sun L’Ocean to make your own sustainable sunscreen (photo: Sun L’Ocean).

Check out our zero waste articles for more inspiration!