10 Eco-Friendly Beach Essentials

Oh, Northern California. It’s amazing. I actually went to the beach more when I was in the landlocked state of Arkansas than I do living on the coast. Why, you might ask?


Last weekend we had highs of 55, cloudy, and even rain. But, this week it flipped to the hundreds. Cool. Cool. Cool.

10 eco-friendly beach essentials from www.goingzerowaste.com #ecofriendly #zerowaste #beach #beachbag #poolbag #essentials #
This post was sponsored by SOL Organics all thoughts and opinions are my own. For more information, please see my disclosure policy.

There’s only three 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?

1. The biggest, fluffiest, organic towel:

First thing on my list is the biggest, organic, fluffiest towel. In fact, I’d prioritize bringing two. One to hold down my dry spot of sand and another to towel off.

My biggest, best, fluffiest towels of choice are. I have a set of a SOL Organics Sheets and absolutely love 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 brand new! I can definitely see myself having them for a decade at least.

For my beach day I’d pack:

  1. Organic Bath Sheet This is the towel you want for holding down the fort
  2. Organic Hand Towel This is the towel I’d keep in my bag for toweling off
  3. 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.

10 eco-friendly beach essentials from www.goingzerowaste.com #ecofriendly #zerowaste #beach #beachbag #poolbag #essentials #

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 bellow: reef safe sunscreens. Be sure to wear a hat when you're out, cover up with sleeves. If you want to stay extra safe stay in the shade, and spend time outside during the early and later hours when the sun isn't as intense.   

4. hat:

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. Here’s a few of my favorites.

10 eco-friendly beach essentials from www.goingzerowaste.com #ecofriendly #zerowaste #beach #beachbag #poolbag #essentials #

5. snacks:

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:

Snack packaging like drink cups and plastic wrap tend to get swept up by wind and make their way out to the ocean.

Trash cans around beaches are often overflowing so just avoid bringing and single-use disposable items with you to the beach and instead pack yourself a zero waste picnic!

photo from Stasher

photo from Stasher

6. cutest ethical swim:

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.

8. sunglasses:

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 incase we have a small section of beach to ourselves. I hate forcing my music on others. I have a bluetooth portable speaker which is pretty large and a little heavy 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 eco-friendly beach essentials from www.goingzerowaste.com #ecofriendly #zerowaste #beach #beachbag #poolbag #essentials #

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, but 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 just tore through every Gwendolyn Womack book in about two weeks.

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?

Is Zero Waste More Expensive?

Ah, yes, the 3 year age old question. Is zero waste more expensive? I went over this briefly in this post where I busted zero waste myths.

But, I decided it was time for a more in depth look at this very pressing question with a few of my calculations down at the bottom.

Is zero waste more expensive from www.goingzerowaste.com #ecofriendly #zerowaste #ecofriendlyliving #zeowastelifestyle #savemoney #frugalliving #thrifty #frugal

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links for more information please see my disclosure policy.

the short of it:

Well, like most things it life… it depends. It really depends on how you were consuming products before you decided to reduce your waste.

Have you been living a frugal lifestyle? Do you currently eat minimally processed foods that focus on plant-based ingredients? Do you have control over your shopping habits?

If you answered, yes to any or all of those questions then you might not see a substantial amount of savings, but I think that you’ll find you’ll maintain your spending.

You definitely shouldn’t expect to see a huge uptick in your spending, that’s for sure!

it’s depression era living.

Zero waste living isn’t anything new or fancy. In fact, it’s pretty old school. Like hundreds of generations of normal living up until the 50s. It’s depression era living founded on one simple principle WASTE. NOTHING.

We just create a lot of waste these days because we buy a lot of stuff. A lot of stuff that we don’t really need, use, or even want!

I would say zero waste living and minimalism have a lot in common because it’s about examining what you truly need. It just in the zero waste community, we found taking out the trash to be completely unnecessary. I jest, I jest.

But, really if you’re buying MORE things, you’re probably doing zero waste wrong. My first tip in my Beginner’s Guide to Going Zero Waste is simply Buy Less.

Is zero waste more expensive from www.goingzerowaste.com #ecofriendly #zerowaste #ecofriendlyliving #zeowastelifestyle #savemoney #frugalliving #thrifty #frugal

it’s about buying less:

It’s about using what you already have and using it to it’s full potential. Check out my post What to do with old plastic when going zero waste.

I’m not saying you won’t buy things, I still buy things that I want and need but I’m so much more conscious about what I’m buying and why I’m buying it.

Every purchase goes through a strict vetting process. You can read more in my post 6 Tips for Buying Less.

what about buying reusables?

Yeah, some resuables are going to be an upfront investment like a bidet attachment, a nice safety razor, reusable bags that you really love, maybe a nice sturdy insulated water bottle, a slew of mason jars, and maybe a tiffin or two.

I think you’ll find once you have those basics, and I mean really stick with the basics, you don’t need much more.

Also, you can probably find a few of these things at the thrift store. I found all of my mason jars which I also use as drinking glasses at the thrift store. I found two klean kanteens at the thrift store too!

And, all of these items will save you SO MUCH in the long run. So, yes, your spending might peak a little bit at the beginning of your zero waste journey, but I wouldn’t expect it to maintain that way.

Is zero waste more expensive from www.goingzerowaste.com #ecofriendly #zerowaste #ecofriendlyliving #zeowastelifestyle #savemoney #frugalliving #thrifty #frugal

what about eco-friendly products?

Eco-friendly, sustainable products are probably going to cost more. I mean a shirt made from plastic, sewn by slave labor is of course going to cost less than a shirt made from sustainable textiles that are traceable where everyone was paid a living wage.

It makes sense that well-made, ethical things are going to cost more because manufacturers aren’t cutting corners.

And, I understand that not everyone can afford to make a sustainable purchase every time, but it’s important to frame our mindsets. The question shouldn’t be “Why is doing good so expensive?” it should be “Why is being bad so cheap?”

So, yes, somethings are going to cost a little more, but even buying more expensive, eco-friendly items like Zero Waste Makeup, I’m still saving in the long run because overall I’m buying much less than I used to.

And, it’s not like I’m going through makeup at a slower pace, it’s just that I’m not running out to buy different colors, try new things, and just buy to buy. I stick to buying only what I know, love, and use.

Is zero waste more expensive from www.goingzerowaste.com #ecofriendly #zerowaste #ecofriendlyliving #zeowastelifestyle #savemoney #frugalliving #thrifty #frugal

some real life calculations:

So, this is anecdotal evidence I’ve gathered along the way and is by no means an accurate reflection of everywhere in the country but here in Northern California, this is what I’ve found.

  • Farmers Market Organic Artichokes $1 per piece - Same farm, same thing at Raley’s $2 per piece

  • Farmers Market Organic Romaine $2 per head - Organic Romaine at Raleys $3.27

  • Rainbow Grocery Biokleen 5lb Laundry Detergent in box $15.75 (THAT’S INSANE!) - Rainbow Grocery Biokleen Laundry Detergent from bulk bins $1.85 a lb or $9.25 for 5lbs

  • Organic Pinto Beans in a plastic bag $2.38 - Organic Pinto Beans $1.99

  • Organic Yellow Popcorn in plastic $3.49 - Organic Yellow Popcorn $1.99

  • 20ct of paper towels $19.89 (lasts two months) - A dozen bar rags $15.99 (Lasts for five years)

As you can see the savings really do add up. I’m not saying zero waste is always going to be cheaper but I’ve found that 97% of the time the zero waste option saves money.

I think I should do a post on cost comparisons. Are there any products that you’d like to see specifically included?

The Truth About Zero Waste Living

I’m going to let you in on a little secret…. zero waste isn’t really ZERO waste. I don’t know what it is about the word zero, but man, it really scares people off.

Zero seems so finite, so absolute. But, when it comes to zero waste living, zero is just goal - something that can’t be reached because we don’t live in a perfect zero waste world.

Plastic, trash, waste - IT HAPPENS, and it’s completely out of our control.

The truth about zero waste living from www.goingzerowaste.com #zerowaste #ecofriendly #thethingstheydonttellyou #gogreen

In fact, trash is kind of like an iceberg. What we see is only 30% the other 70% is lost in manufacturing. So, even when we buy from bulk bins #plasticfree what we don’t see is the plastic bags that the product was in before it was put into the bins.

When you buy a nice reusable water bottle from the store, what you don’t see is the pallet they all came in that was wrapped with plastic.

Most of this is completely out of our control, and it’s why you shouldn’t beat yourself up for not being perfect. Zero waste living isn’t about being perfect, and it’s about so much more than mason jars full of trash and grammable reusables.

Zero waste is about moving to a circular economy. By living this way, we’re highlighting areas that need improving, and it’s another reason WHY it’s so important for us to be doing more like asking businesses to improve sustainability initiatives, asking for policy change, and educating our communities.

And, while we’re waiting for that perfect zero waste world to manifest, trash is going to happen. Plastic is going to happen.

And, I really haven’t had a solution to that other than… “welp *shrug* it happens,” but now you can actually offset your plastic footprint!

It’s similar to calculating and offseting your carbon footprint.

Rebalance your plastic footprint with rePurpose! www.goingzerowaste.com #plastic #plasticfree #rebalance #simplicity #ecofriendly #zerowaste

This post was sponsored by rePurpose. All thoughts and opinions are my own for more information please see my disclosure page.

Like with carbon offsets, the goal is of course to make sure that you are first reducing your plastic as much as possible and then offsetting what’s leftover.

why can’t I recycle?

I hear you, why can’t I just recycle my plastic? And, I wish it were that easy, but as of January 2018, China, the largest global buyer of plastic for recycling, stopped accepting it last year, and other countries are turning it away too.

Malaysia is actually sending 3,000 metric tons of plastic back to the US, UK, and Australia because it’s been illegally dumped in their country. We just have too much plastic to deal with.

Many of these countries that we dump our plastic into do not have proper waste management facilities to handle the influx of waste so a lot of it winds up in rivers thus the ocean.

Rebalance your plastic footprint with rePurpose! www.goingzerowaste.com #plastic #plasticfree #rebalance #simplicity #ecofriendly #zerowaste

how do I know my plastic footprint?

rePurpose has a tool to help you balance your plastic footprint. There’s a handy calculator where you can calculate your plastic footprint and then offset it.

I calculated both Justin’s and mine, and for about $2.30 a month we can offset our footprint! YAY! The quiz is super fun to take and very eye-opening because even if you buy mostly plastic-free there’s still a lot of secret plastic you might not be seeing.

Rebalance your plastic footprint with rePurpose! www.goingzerowaste.com #plastic #plasticfree #rebalance #simplicity #ecofriendly #zerowaste

how is it being offset?

I think this is the most important part! For as little as $3-5 a month, rePurpose will intercept & recycle an amount of plastic waste equivalent to your unique footprint calculated above.

rePurpose has partnered with three different organizations at this time, and when you offset with them you get real-time tracking of both your social and environmental impact (volume recycled, type of plastic, workers impacted) at the beginning of every month.

rePurpose focuses on lower-end, hard-to-recycle plastic instead of the more valuable plastic like PET.

Recycling PET isn’t a great choice for this program because these plastics have a high value by nature. They would have been picked up and recycled by workers anyway.

Instead, they offset low-value plastics and pay informal workers to intercept it before it reaches the ocean or landfills! Not only is this a great way to prevent more plastic from entering our ecosystems, it’s also adding a crucial income stream for pickers. You can learn more here.

Rebalance your plastic footprint with rePurpose! www.goingzerowaste.com #plastic #plasticfree #rebalance #simplicity #ecofriendly #zerowaste

Over 50 million informal workers worldwide spend their entire lives dealing with the consequences of our mindless consumption, all without recognition as environmental heroes or access to basic healthcare or education that traps them in a generational cycle of abject poverty.

In India, a waste picker on average spends 12 hours a day scavenging for recyclable waste in dumpsters and landfills, earning less than $5 from an exploitative supply chain.

rePurpose seeks to end this by paying a fair wage and partnering with organizations that have met a strict criteria:

1) organizational track record: amount recycled, years present in the cities, quality of operational infrastructure

2) implementational capacity: do they have the technical and human resource requirements in order to implement the offset

3) engagement with informal sector: are they engaged with waste pickers & local informal industries, and how genuine is that engagement? do they have the trust & goodwill of the communities?


Rebalance your plastic footprint with rePurpose! www.goingzerowaste.com #plastic #plasticfree #rebalance #simplicity #ecofriendly #zerowaste

it doesn’t stop there!

Another way that rePurpose sets themselves apart is that they don’t only focus on end-of-life/the waste that’s already been produced.

They also want to help you reduce the amount of plastic that you consume in the first place! After all REDUCE, REUSE then at the very, verrrryyy end RECYCLE. They send out a great newsletter to help make personalized changes in your life!

I would love to know how much plastic you’re responsible for? Mine came out to about 40lbs a year.