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Eco-Friendly Beach Essentials for Sustainable Summer Fun!

We all look forward to summer vacations and days soaking up the sun on beautiful beaches. But did you stop to think about the fact that the majority of traditional beach gear is made from plastics and materials that result in harmful waste for the environment?

Plastics and microplastics can be found littering beaches, rivers and the sea harming marine life and water supplies, plus, some items can take up to 450 years to break down.

That’s not all, many beach items contain BPA compounds, phthalates, and chemicals that can be detrimental to our health. So, how do we enjoy fun in the sun while keeping ourselves, our family, and the planet safe?

Fortunately, these days, it’s much easier. As we become more aware of harmful products on the market, we have begun to seek out businesses that produce sustainable, eco-friendly beach essentials.

In this round-up article, I’ll touch on some of the ethical brands manufacturing everything from beach toys and sunscreens to umbrellas, swimwear, and flip-flops so the only research you’ll have to do, is to choose a good book!

Why choose sustainable beach gear?

Many cheap, and mass-produced products such as buckets and spades, fast fashion flip-flops and even swimwear can contain plastic. These items can take hundreds of years to break down when disposed of, causing multiple issues for the environment.

A few things we can do to help include not purchasing virgin plastic, choosing materials that don’t shed microplastics into the sea, avoiding littering and selecting reef-safe sunscreen.

In this article, I’ll detail an eco-friendly beach bag essentials list of sustainable brands and environmentally-friendly products to pack for your upcoming vacation.

Eco-Friendly Beach Toys

Green Toys Sand Play Set, Pink CB - 4 Piece Pretend Play, Motor Skills, Kids Outdoor Toys. No BPA, phthalates, PVC. Dishwasher Safe, Recycled Plastic, Made in USA.

Keeping little ones entertained at home is challenging, but luckily, the beach is nature’s best playground!

Although it’s easy to pick up the cheapest disposable toys for them to play with in the soft sand, for a moment and consider the impact such toys have on the environment when they’re being made, and when they’ve been discarded.

Instead, plan ahead and opt for sustainable beach toys, such as Green Toys Sand Play Set. This company, based in the USA, use 100% recycled materials.

Their BPA-free toys are manufactured with post-consumer milk bottles and printed with soy-based inks that don’t contain toxins.

Did you know that most swim fins are also made from non-recyclable plastics? Fortunately, brands like HEVEA produce natural biodegradable rubber swim fins. They are comfortable to wear and great for kids’ feet, plus, they come with an organic cotton mesh reusable bag.

See all our picks of Eco-Friendly Beach Toys here!

Sustainable Beach Bag

If you’re heading to the beach with sunscreen, toys, drink bottles, and snacks, a good bag is essential for transportation.

Search for artisan brands, ethically produced bags, and fair trade bags – not those manufactured by fast fashion brands that won’t last the distance.

One of my favorite sustainable beach totes includes the Anchal Beach Bag. It’s spacious and versatile, in a classic striped design, plus, it’s made from GOTS-certified organic cotton, and available in three fun colors.

Another environmentally friendly bag to look out for is from Lo & Sons. Their stylish Catalina Deluxe Messenger Bags are made from recycled plastic bottles or canvas. They are water-resistant for beach and pool days and large enough to carry all of your beach gear.

See all our Favorite Sustainable Beach Bags here!

Sustainable Swimwear

When it comes to choosing the right swimwear for a vacation, you definitely get what you pay for.

Many fast-fashion swimsuits barely last a season, and they contain plastic-shedding microfibers when they are washed.

So, this year, before you splurge, check out the newest eco-friendly swimwear and opt for a slinky little beach number from the following brands.

Sustainable swimwear company Wolven uses recycled plastic bottles to curate a selection of trendy swimwear designs in various colors and styles. Plus, your new purchase arrives in recycled packaging. I love their Onyx Tie-Back One Piece for no-fuss beach days.

Men are well catered for too. Outerknown is an eco-conscious brand creating 100% recycled trunks and quick-dry swim shorts. Their designs have gained quite a following within the surfing community – thanks to company founder, professional surf legend Kelly Slater.

Find all the best Sustainable Swimsuit Brands here!

Eco-Friendly Sunglasses

Most designer sunglasses are made from virgin plastic that takes decades, if not centuries to break down after use.

You can do your part to minimize the harm by purchasing your next pair of beach sunnies from one of the many sustainable sunglass brands available today.

Sunski Sunglasses are trendy and eco-friendly, with frames made from recycled materials – mainly scrap plastic from local US landfills. Sunski is carbon neutral, a 1% for the planet member, and they ship all their ethically made sunglasses in plastic-free packaging.

You may also like SeaClean’s zero-waste sunglasses. Each sustainable pair of sunglasses is made from upcycled plastic bottles, and with each sale, they give back to the Ocean Cleanup fund – a non-profit whose purpose is to eradicate plastic pollution.

See the Best Sustainable Sunglasses here!

Sustainable Beach Towels

Sustainable towel brands have GOTS, GRS and OEKO-TEX certifications attached, ensuring they adhere to the highest quality standards.

It’s also best to choose a good towel made from natural fibers, organic cotton or recycled materials that haven’t been treated with synthetic dyes.

I can recommend Weezie towels. They are made from terry cloth organic cotton and are OEKO-TEX certified. The soft and fluffy texture towels with modern designs are perfect beach cover-ups for kids and they come in a range of colors.

Be sure to also take a look at Nomadix towels made from recycled plastic water bottles. These quick drying, sand and odor-resistant towels are lightweight – perfect for drying off after a refreshing dip, showering, or even doing a spot of yoga on the sand.

Find more Eco-Friendly Beach Towels here!

Sustainable Sun Hats

One of the family beach day essentials I never travel without is a good quality sun hat. They are great to wear at the beach, during a summertime hike or bike ride.

They come in a selection of colors, with styles ranging from chic straw hats and trilbies to sporty baseball caps made from sustainable fabrics.

If you’re seeking a timeless, elegant sun hat Janessa Leone creates wide-brimmed millinery in a variety of colors and designs. The materials are high quality, and the brand also supports artisans and local communities.

If, like me, you enjoy purchasing from companies that give back, United by Blue removes a pound of ocean trash with every purchase from their website. Their hats are trendy, GOTS-certified, bucket style with twin pockets and carry loops for essentials. They also sell clothing, bags, and other accessories.

See all our top Sustainable Sun Hats here!

Reusable Water Bottle

Klean Kanteen TK Wide 20 Oz Twist Top Blue Tint

One of the easiest ways to protect the environment while on the beach is to avoid drinks in plastic bottles.

Plastic water bottles can take centuries to break down in the water – also a lot of plastic contains BPA compounds that can be harmful to health.

I prefer to take my own water bottle such as Klean Kanteen’s Insulated Water Bottle. It’s made from 90% post-consumer recycled stainless steel, is BPA free and comes with a splash-proof lid. It keeps drinks cold for up to 145 hours (perfect on hot beach days) and doesn’t contain any plastic, ink, or harmful coatings.

If you prefer to source a bottle with a built-in water filter for refills on the go, GRAYL Geopress Purifier ticks all the boxes. This handy little recyclable number can filter and purify spring water, tap water or water from rivers within just eight seconds. The cartridge lasts for three years, and the company offer a 10-year warranty to demonstrate the quality!

Find the Healthiest Water Bottles here!

Non-Toxic Sunscreen

We all know that spending too much time in the sun can damage the delicate layers of our skin. As UVA and UVB rays penetrate the skin’s surface over time they can cause all sorts of problems.

This isn’t helped by the fact that many well-known branded sunscreens contain parabens, phthalates, oxybenzone and octinoxate, some of which are known hormone disrupters.

Always opt for an eco-friendly sunscreen that uses natural ingredients to create a protective barrier for your skin. Typically, mineral sunscreen is also safe for coral reefs – so we can look after the underwater world too.

I like the vegan brand Kinfield. They make a lightweight SPF 35 lotion to suit all skin types. Their sunscreen contains aloe and sea kelp, and their Cloud Cover range is reef-safe and water-resistant, perfect to wear while swimming.

If you enjoy staying active on vacation, choose a sunscreen from Jason® natural skincare brand. Their family-friendly SPF 45 is great to use while cycling, sailing and hiking. It contains no toxic chemicals or synthetics, and they don’t test on animals.

Find more Reef-friendly Sunscreens here!

Eco Beach Umbrellas

Keep yourself and your family safe in the sun by investing in a cool beach umbrella. A good quality parasol is a one-time investment and can be used year after year, thus reducing waste.

Choose a supplier specializing in eco-friendly beach products that offer a high UPF rating of 50+. Also, make sure that the umbrella can sustain strong winds and provide shade to little ones (a tilting stand is best).

Some of the best eco-friendly umbrellas I discovered include the Natural Instinct Beach Umbrella by Sunday Supply Co. They are lightweight, designed with a two-meter canopy made with premium polyester from recycled plastic bottles. They come in a stylish striped pattern with FSC-approved wooden poles too.

The Suntorini brand also sells responsibly made umbrellas for beach days. The poles and frame are FSC-approved beech wood and fiberglass, plus, these parasols angle three ways for all-day protection from the sun. They are PU coated, waterproof and offer UPF 50+ protection for your peace of mind.

See the most Sustainable Sun Umbrellas here!

Zero Waste Snacks / Picnic

LunchBots Small Protein Packer Bento Box - Extra Small Divided Stainless Steel Snack Container - 4 Sections for 1-2oz of Nuts, Meat, Cheese, Finger Foods - Dishwasher Safe - Stainless Lid

If every day was a beach day accompanied by delicious gourmet snacks, I would be happy!

There’s nothing better than a summer picnic, but most of us end up in the nearest convenience store purchasing plastic packaged snacks which leads to more waste and trash.

To avoid this, plan your zero waste snacks in advance. You can pack everything from trail mix, dried fruits, and homemade veggie chips in reusable bags and if you want to add dips and hummus, you can pop them in eco-friendly containers to clean when you return home.

Other snacks and nibbles such as cakes, sandwiches and brownies can be transported in beeswax wrappers and juices in reusable bottles. You can dine on wheat straw plates with bamboo utensils and have a completely plastic-free picnic!

Find more Zero Waste Picnic Tips here!

Eco-Friendly Beach Chairs

4Ocean Signature 5 Position Lay Flat Backpack Beach Chair

If you’re looking for a relaxing eco-friendly beach chair on which to soak up the sun’s rays, there are many made with sustainable materials that aren’t labor-intensive to produce and don’t harm the environment.

The 4ocean Signature Backpack Beach Chair with Cooler can easily be carried on hiking expeditions like a backpack. The parts and fabric seat are made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic, and they adjust to the position you prefer.

As an added bonus, the company pledged to recover trash from oceans, coastlines and rivers with every chair purchased.

Another sustainable beach chair option is the sleek and stylish Holiday Tommy Chair in antique white. This practical chair is lightweight to transport and made with UV-protected umbrella canvas which is mold and water-resistant.

Plastic-Free Flip Flops

As you can probably gather by now, plastic pollution in the ocean is a huge problem. It destroys entire ecosystems, and believe it or not, flip-flops are part of the issue.

Most cheap flip flops are made from synthetic rubber, polyurethane, and plastic, resulting in shedding, and fast turnaround just creates a bigger issue.

It’s better to invest in higher quality beach footwear you can wear for several seasons to reduce waste.

All Birds have designed the Sugar Sliders, replacing plastic with sugarcane-based eco-friendly materials in the form of SweetFoam®, the world’s first carbon-negative green EVA. These cool sliders, with 100% recycled polyester web straps, are super comfortable to wear with a soft cushioned bounce – great for poolside parties and walking.

I also really like Indosole’s vegan flip flops. They are engineered with reused tire soles with a natural rubber arch support, and they are waterproof. They are some of the best eco-friendly sandals, made responsibly with zero-waste, and they are cruelty-free for your peace of mind.

Other Ways you can be sustainable on a beach vacation:

  • Take a trash bag with you to pick up your own, and any other plastic waste you find laying around.
  • Be careful where you walk. Sand dunes keep the shoreline intact, but they are vulnerable to erosion too. Tourism can impact dunes disrupting their natural structure. Be mindful if you’re climbing, playing, or walking along them.
  • Use reusable utensils, bottles and drinking straws for picnics.
  • Eat, drink and shop locally to support local communities.
  • Don’t harm marine life (resist the urge to pick up starfish or other delicate sea creatures) and choose not to support tours that follow unscrupulous practices.

Beach days and summer vacations can be a lot of fun, especially if you’re spending time with family and friends. And, when you purchase sustainable options and eco-friendly beach essentials from ethical brands that don’t have a negative environmental impact, or are detrimental to your health, these items can continue to be enjoyable and memorable for many a beach trip to come!