10 Eco-Friendly Beach Essentials
June 20, 2019 | Kathryn Kellogg
Last Updated on February 16, 2023
These 10 eco-friendly beach essentials are life savers for any beach day! Ethical swimwear and SPF, sunglasses, and even a cute beach-friendly picnic are all on this list of beach necessities.
Everyone has their own go-to beach gear. You’ll find beach day essentials on this list that are pretty universal, as well as one or two that may surprise you! Beach accessories like sunscreen and sunglasses, as well as snacks and Bluetooth speakers, ensure this list includes everything you may need at the beach. Keep a bag packed with your beach necessities if you go a lot, or repurpose these items in your daily life!
Visiting the warm beach is one of my favorite vacations, even living in California. Northern California is actually quite cold for several months of the year, so sometimes I visit Southern California where it tends to be warm year round. When this happens, there are only 3 things on my MUST list:
- See Friends
- Eat Tacos
- Go to beach
I’m a simple lady. But, it got me thinking…. what does an eco-friendly/zero waste gal pack in her beach bag?
why you’ll love these beach accessories
- These beach day essentials are cute, practical, and ethical! Win-win-win!
- My product recommendations are built with sustainability in mind, so they’ll be long-lasting.
- You’ll likely be able to fit all of these items into one beach bag.
beach necessities can be problematic
From reef-endangering SPF ingredients to polyester and nylon swimsuits and towels, it takes a little extra effort to be eco-friendly and zero waste with your beach gear. These are 10 of my favorite beach accessories that are ethical as well as practical (and cute!).
my top beach gear
1: the biggest, fluffiest, organic towel
First thing on my list is the biggest, fluffiest, organic towel. In fact, I’d prioritize bringing two. One to hold down my dry spot of sand and another to towel off.
I have a set of a SOL Organics Sheets and absolutely love them because they’re such high-quality.
So, when they launched their towel line, I was chomping at the bit to place my first order. Their towels are VERY generously sized, they’re incredibly absorbent, super soft, and even after washing several times, they’ve stayed like new! I can definitely see myself having them for a decade at least.
For my beach day, I’d pack:
- Organic Bath Sheet – This is the towel you want for holding down the fort.
- Organic Hand Towel – This is the towel I’d keep in my bag for toweling off.
- Organic Bath Towel – I’d just slip this cutie in for the hotel because these beat hotel towels any day…. I jest, I jest. But, really – I might just start bringing my own towel when I travel.
SOL Organics is certified Fair Trade, Organic Cotton, and GOTS certified, and they ship completely plastic free. Their factory partner runs a transparent supply chain from farm to factory to fabric, using only non-GMO, certified raw 100% organic cotton, manufactured in a FLO-certified factory.
They always pay a living wage and are partnered with proven partners that invest in the health and well-being of women and children all while working to eradicate child labor.
And, as a huge bonus, they’re offering all GZW readers 20% off with the code ‘GZW20’ – just apply it at checkout.
2: beach bag
You know me, #ZEROWASTE, #MINIMALIST, #LAZY so my super stylish farmers market tote doubles as the cutest beach bag, and I know it’s up for the task because it totes 15lbs of vegetables on the reg.
And, I’ve successfully fit everything on this list including the Organic Bath Sheet, Organic Hand Towel, and
Organic Bath Towel. Mary Poppins’ bag ain’t got nothin’ on me.
3: reef safe sunscreen
This one’s a biggie — your sunscreen might be damaging the coral reefs.
And, this doesn’t only happen when you’re headed to the beach because ANY drain you wash these chemicals down will eventually make their way out to the ocean.
So beach day or not, you really should look for reef safe sunscreens that don’t have oxybenzone and octinoxate on the ingredient list.
Instead, opt for reef safe sunscreens. I’ve listed a few below.
Be sure to wear a hat when you’re out and cover up with sleeves. If you want to stay extra safe stay in the shade, spend time outside during the early and later hours when the sun isn’t as intense.
- Sun Bum Reef Friendly Mineral Sunscreen (SPF 50)
- Thinksport Non-Nano Zinc Oxide Sunscreen (SPF 50+)
- Blue Lizard Sunscreen, Sensitive (SPF 30+)
I need my beach hat! I have a trusty straw hat I have relied on for quite some time, but I would really like to up my repertoire.
Is it even a beach day without snacks!? You can have an amazing picnic on your gigantic SOl Organics Organic Bath Sheet. Here would be my plastic-free snack roster:
- Cooler full of iced tea complete with stainless pint cups to stay hydrated all day long
- Insulated water bottle – here are my Fav 1 & Fav 2
- Stasher bag full of pitted cherries and berries + a bamboo fork
- Stasher bag full of carrot, bell pepper, and celery sticks
- Tiffin full of homemade hummus
Snack packaging like drink cups and plastic wrap tends to get swept up by the wind and make its way out to the ocean.
Trash cans around beaches are often overflowing, so avoid bringing any single-use disposable items with you to the beach, and instead, pack yourself a zero waste picnic!
photo from Stasher
6: cutest ethical swimwear
I have a full guide to ethical swimwear similar to my post about summer trends, but for now, I’m packing this cute tankini from Jessica Rey.
I wore it on a bachelorette trip weekend where I tried to accomplish Zero Waste at Disneyland!
7: flip flops
Pretty much the only time I wear flip flops — I just don’t find them to be very comfortable — is on the beach or at the pool.
I have this pair from Third Oak. They’re responsibly made in the US and are closed loop, so if they break, you can send them back to the company for recycling.
Sunny, sunny, sunnies! Pela Case, my phone case of choice and has been for years, just launched the most eco-friendly sunglasses on the planet.
They’re biodegradable and they’re adorable. I have a pair of the Dians, and Justin has a pair of the Mayas.
9: bluetooth speaker
I threw a portable speaker into my bag just in case we have a small section of beach to ourselves.
I have a bluetooth portable speaker which is pretty large and a little heavy, but I hate forcing my music on everybody. So instead, I’d probably opt for a mini!
House of Marley is one of the few brands that’s offering sustainable electronics.
They use mindfully sourced materials including bamboo, FSC™ certified wood, recyclable aluminum, plastic, and fabrics.
10: beach reads
And, of COURSE, how could I not include beach reads. You know there’s like four in my bag, and honestly, this could be a whole post within itself. If you’re looking for easy-to-read books on sustainability, might I recommend my book 101 Ways to Go Zero Waste or Ashlee Piper’s Give a Sh*t.
I’m not sure if we have the same taste in books, but I also just tore through every Gwendolyn Womack book in about two weeks.
why is it important for my beach day essentials to be eco-friendly?
Largely, it comes down to saving the ocean. By choosing sustainable, ethical, and eco-friendly products, you can avoid shedding microplastics, toxic chemicals, or trash into the ocean.
what are other ways i can be eco-friendly at the beach?
Clean up after yourself! The only thing you should leave behind are your footprints. Also, refrain from taking items from the beach — photos last forever anyway! And, of course, refrain from bringing disposable items and instead pack reusable beach essentials.
I’d like to thank SOL Organics for sponsoring this post. Whether you’re looking for a beach towel or eco-friendly towels for your bathroom, I can’t recommend SOL Organics enough.
PLUS, don’t forget about that 20% off for GZW readers! Use the code ‘GZW20’ at checkout!
What are you packing in your beach tote this summer?
My favorite sunscreen this year is Raw Elements: https://packagefreeshop.com/collections/laurens-essentials/products/tinter-facial-moisturizer-30-spf
it’s tinted and in a recyclable tin!
Thanks, I’ll look into Raw Elements!
I need to buy new towels to be zero waste? Can’t use the ones I’ve been using for the past umpteen years? Why is zero waste ALWAYS about shopping?
Can you please point me in the direction where I said, "You need to buy new towels to be zero waste?"
Of course not. But if you need to replace your towels at any point, she suggested a sustainable, ethical brand. Any zero-waster will tell you first and foremost that using what you already have is the most important part. But when you run out of something or need to replace something, that’s when it’s a good time to opt for the eco-friendly stuff.
I only thing I familiar with the organic term is the organic food, its quite interesting to know about the organic towel and organic bed sheets and others, Indeed, Thanks for sharing 🙂
It’s a really interesting topic if you want to look into it more, but conventional cotton uses A LOT of pesticides that get into the waterway and are very negatively impacting the surrounding areas.
Nice list, especially the discussion on sunscreen. I like organic towels and fabrics as well!
Way too many new things to buy. I don’t want to be encouraged to shop more. Love what you do, but this is not it for me.
Right!? How dare I pack things I already own to take the beach! The horror.
I can’t believe you wrote a blog post detailing your intent to bludgeon all your readers to death with a bamboo bat if they didn’t buy new towels! 😉
Great post! Thank you for sharing! I had not known about the sunscreen and will switch immediately!
I like Elevated Sun sunscreen—sold in glass jar with metal cover.