Here in the Keys, it’s all about the coral. The reef is the lynchpin of our economy and way of life and the source of our fun. When we go out on the sea, it’s important to use environmentally friendly products that don’t harm the environment. We picked a few of our favorites that not only do no environmental harm, but that also benefit local businesses and nonprofits who are working to conserve our beautiful ocean resources. 

Stream 2 Sea Founder Autumn Blum summarizes it best. She said, “It is up to the passionate ocean advocate to educate locals and tourists to make better purchasing decisions.  Making small changes in our daily lives, like avoiding single use plastics and using reef-safe sunscreens and biodegradable hair care products, are easy ways to help protect our local reefs.”

Silipints are silicone pint glasses — unbreakable, bakeable, microwaveable and dishwasher safe. With their lids and a reusable straw, they’re perfect for the boat or a day at the sandbar. TIFFANY DUONG/Keys Weekly

Reusable drink containers

While everyone’s got their favorite way to store liquids (Tervis, Yeti, Nalgene), the one thing we can all agree on is that single-use plastics don’t belong on the boat! More recently, silipints — silicone reusable cups — have become popular branded items to take with you on your water adventures. Get one from REEF, Key Dives, the History of Diving Museum, CRF (steel pint), or OctoGirl to directly benefit those working to help our reefs.

Many shops are now carrying clothes and gear made from recycled plastics. These, like the shirts at Key Dives and I.CARE, help to upcycle trash that otherwise would end up in the landfill or the ocean. KEY DIVES/Contributed

Key Dives/I.CARE Shirts made from plastic bottles

With divers, palm trees, and adventure-themed shirts, Key Dives has some of the best designs around town. Another added bonus is that their new shirts and rash guards are made from plastic bottles. Each shirt upcycles eight bottles that otherwise would have ended up in the landfill, and the I.CARE shirts raise money for coral restoration in Islamorada

“We are extremely excited about our T-Shirts and rash guards made from recycled plastic bottles,” said Key Dives Marine Conservation Coordinator Cortney Benson. “Not only does this give us a great opportunity to bring awareness to the issue of single use plastics in our environment, it also allows us to give some of them a second purpose.” 

Stream2Sea Sunscreen – Stream2Sea products are reef and human friendly. They’re one of the best ways to stay protected from the sun while not introducing harmful chemicals into the ocean and onto our bodies. AUTUMN BLUM/Contributed

Stream2Sea Reef-safe Sunscreen

Local favorite Stream2Sea is made in Florida and has lots of history with the Keys. It’s proven to be reef-safe for the corals, fish-safe for the fishes and human-safe for us. A win-win-win! (Psst:  their leave-in conditioner, sting gel and hand-sanitizer are also cult classics!) Founder Autumn Blum said, “As individuals, it’s hard to affect climate change and stop overfishing, but we can eliminate toxic ingredients from being directly released into our waters by simply choosing to purchase truly reef safe and biodegradable products.”

The Reef Relief sun buff helps keep us protected while also supporting reef protection efforts. CONTRIBUTED

Sun Shield supporting Reef Relief

No Florida boater is complete without a sun buff. It’s our preferred way to protect our faces here in the Keys from the sun. When you purchase one from Reef Relief, you help the Key West organization in their work to protect the reef.  

Reusable bags help keep plastics out of our oceans and landfills. When they’re made from plastics, they give new life to old trash. And, when they benefit coral restoration, there’s a third huge environmental positive. CORAL RESTORATION FOUNDATION/Contributed

Reusable bag supporting Coral Restoration Foundation

Days on the water always require lots of random stuff — masks, snorkels, towels, chips, etc. We like to store all of our gear for a fun day trip in a CRF Chico bag. Made from 100% recycled bottles, the bag helps divert trash from landfills, is perfect for use on the boat, and folds into its own pocket. Plus, proceeds help support CRF’s mission to restore the local reefs. Alice Grainger, communications manager, said, “The products we stock in our gift shop support our mission to save and restore coral reefs beyond the money that they bring into the organization. Our steel pints and reusable straws give people alternatives to single-use plastic products. On a macro level, every time we refuse plastics we are making a positive difference for our natural world, and, by extension, for the health and well being of humankind.”

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