Ever thought how the ancient Māori naturopathic use of plants could help save the Pacific's coral reefs? Mangawhai natural products entrepreneur Jules Bright has.

For many years it's been known that chemicals in sunscreen and other products are contributing to the bleaching and death of coral reefs. Despite knowing that, people have continued to used those toxic ingredients on their skins.

They include xybenzone, titanium, petrochemicals, artificial colours and fragrances.

Jules Bright, founder of Earth's Kitchen, is poised to enter the sunscreen market in Hawaii where a ban on many sunscreens will be complete by 2021.


Her company offers natural sunscreen options for adults, children and babies with the highest sun protection factor.

The adult variety is infused with kawakawa and tamanu while the baby sunscreen is made from moringa and harakeke (flax).

Bright, a former registered surgical nurse and naturopath, has turned her sights to formulating natural therapeutic skincare and specifically sunscreen.

She is confident Earth's Kitchen is the world's first and only Biogro-certified natural sunscreen to balance the SPF50 rating with water resistance, invisibility and natural certification.

Hawaii's SB 2571 legislation, which passed into law in July, states that because the chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate have significant harmful impacts on Hawaii's coral, sunscreen containing those chemicals will be banned from January 2021.

At one reef tested at Hanauma Bay, in Oahu, it was found 187kg of chemical sunscreen was deposited by swimmers every day.

Now resorts, airlines, retailers and healthcare professionals are supporting reef-friendly alternatives, and sales of safe sunscreen are set to explode.

From her Mangawhai home, Bright has been keeping an eye on other markets such as Mexico and Australia where the damage caused by sunscreen is also recognised.


To hit the required supply scale, Bright intends raising capital and establishing a base in the USA's 50th state.

Earth's Kitchen's certified products already sell in more than 50 retail outlets in New Zealand.

One of Bright's upcoming challenges will be getting approval for sale in America.

"Sunscreen is considered a pharmaceutical drug in the USA so we'll need to work with the Federal Drug Administration," she said.

"We're selling online, so sending it all over the world, but USA will be the first established overseas market."

Earth's Kitchen has already crept across the Pacific, so Hawaii shouldn't be too much of a stretch.


The company has fair trade arrangements with ethical suppliers of sandalwood, coconut and tamanu from Pacific Islands, through a partnership with the NGO OceansWatch.

"We take the sunscreen back to the islands," Bright says. "We're growing grassroots economies."

Earth's Kitchen is a team effort, with Cushla Leonard and Mark Timmins helping run the company and an advisory board being set up.

On top of the Hawaii project, Bright intends turning her attention to the tattoo industry, launching a range of three products to brighten, protect and highlight tattoos. The home market should be strong, considering at least 40 per cent of New Zealanders have tattoos.