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?

Zero Waste at Disneyland

Two weekends ago I went to Disneyland for my friend's Bachelorette party! I was pretty excited to attempt zero waste at Disneyland. 

I went in with pretty low expectations because this trip wasn't about me. This trip was about my friend and hoping that she had the best bachelorette weekend EVER!! 

However, I still took a lot of strides to prevent as much waste as possible. 

Going Zero Waste at Disneyland from www.goingzerowaste.com

If you're a bride to be or a bridesmaid, check out my zero waste bachelorette party for low waste inspiration.  

What I Packed: 

We went to LA on a Friday and left on a Monday. We went to the park for two days and lounged by the pool for a day. Every night we went out and did something fun like bowling, dinner, etc. 

So, I packed two pairs of shorts, four tops, three dresses, swimsuit, coverup, and pajamas. I also packed a pair of tennis shoes for the park, flip flops for the pool, and sandals for going out. I also managed to get it all inside of my new favorite backpack from Rewilder! 

What I packed for a zero waste trip to disneyland from www.goingzerorwaste.com
What I packed for a zero waste trip to disneyland from www.goingzerorwaste.com
This post was sponsored by Rewilder all thoughts and opinions are my own. For more information please see my disclosure policy. 

The backpack was a gift and I am loving it! It's sleek, stylish and surprisingly fits a TON without being overly bulky. 

Seriously, watch my video and you can see how I fit all of that and my toiletries into the bag for the weekend.

When Rewilder reached out to me, I was really impressby their ethos. Their backpack is made out of 100% pre-consumer waste. It's a zero waste operation and they're made in LA. 

The backpack is made out of unusable air bag material and the handles and straps are made out of safety belts that were rejected by the auto manufacturers. The air bag material is also completely water proof! 

Perfect when you've got your laptop and are caught in a downpour. You don't have to worry about your precious electronics fritzing out. 

One thing I love about the material is how easy it is to clean. We all know how hard it is to keep white things white, but the airbag material just wipes clean

The Essentials: 

Two of the most important things I brought were my water bottle and sunscreen! 

I got a 12oz Klean Kanteen with a cafe lid perfect for coffee or water while in the park. Several people reached out to me through IG to let me know that the cafe lid leaks. 

I asked Klean Kanteen about it and they told me to tighten the screw on the lid, and that fixed the problem! If you have a cafe cap, make sure that you tighten the screw on the lid so it won't leak in your bag. 

When it came to suncreen, I bought a bottle of Aesop's sunscreen because all of their products are packaged in glass. I thought it would be a pretty good option.

I went to the store and the clerk got it for me and put it in my own reusable bag so I when I got home I realized that the bottle was actually plastic. I realized I never even got to feel the bottle. I was pretty bummed, but it worked really well! 

What I packed for a zero waste trip to disneyland from www.goingzerorwaste.com

It does appear that they also have a sunscreen in a metal tube which might be one of the best options currently on the market. I really haven't found many options when it comes to buying sunscreen. 

I also used my Marie Veronique tinted SPF on my face which is what I use everyday as foundation. 

I applied twice at the park (12+ hours) and didn't burn a bit! I was also rarely in direct sunlight, I'm pretty good about picking out shady spots. 

I typically wear a hat too, but we all wore matching Minnie ears.  


Make sure that you bring a metal water bottle with you. Disney doesn't allow glass containers in the park. I had my sunscreen decanted into a small 2oz glass bottle and that was small enough to be let through, but they certainly wouldn't allow a glass mason jar. 

There are TONS of water fountains all around the park. They are everywhere, even several while waiting in line for rides. 

There were also several water taps outside of quick service stations where I filled my bottle up. If we got awards on the trip, I would have had the award for 'Most Hydrated.'

What I packed for a zero waste trip to disneyland from www.goingzerorwaste.com

 I filled my bottle at every water station I saw, and then chugged all of it! Staying hydrated is SO important... especially when you're hot and have been drinking. 

I didn't drink a lot of alcohol in Disneyland specifically from a hydration stand point. It seemed that all of the drinks you could get to walk around would come in a plastic cup, and they were also verrrryyyy sugary. 

I'm very, very sensitive to sugar so I had to be really careful with what I ate and drank. There was A LOT of sugar at Disney. It's a theme park... so I'm not sure what I expected... 

A note on the water in LA. I personally found it to be pretty disgusting, but after drinking around a gallon my tastebuds acclimated. My tip is to either power through or bring a big water bottle with a filter. 


When we went out at night, I'd have a drink mayyyybe two? I'm not a very heavy drinker and was trying to avoid lots of sugar. We ate and drank at the parks restaurants. If you're dining in a restaurant everything is reusable, just make sure to ask for no straw! 

The big snafu was at the pool. Several of the ladies ordered some drinks pretty early, and I could see that all of the drinks were coming down in plastic cups... 

From what I was told the drinks were also very, very sugary. I really wanted a drink by the pool, so I made a conscious decision to try and reduce my plastic waste and sugar intake by ordering a shot of rum with a lime and a Zico coconut water. 

Now, a shot at Disney is a cup. I got an ACTUAL cup (8oz) of rum on the rocks. 

What I packed for a zero waste trip to disneyland from www.goingzerorwaste.com

I mixed my own drinks in my Klean Kanteen. 

I was able to make around six drinks (I shared) for all of the girls for $18. It was a bargain, much healthier, and wayyyyy less waste than ordering 6 individual drinks. 

So, if you're at the pool, my recommendation is to mix your own! 

There's also a water fountain by the bathrooms so you can fill up your own water bottle to stay hydrated. 

What I packed for a zero waste trip to disneyland from www.goingzerorwaste.com

I will say it was pretty humorous that our waiter came by and said, "Hey girls, I brought you your drinks without straws because Disney IS FINALLY catching up with the times and banning straws and stirrers. Save the turtles you know!?" 

Everyone in the party turned to me immediately and said, "Have you been chatting with the waiter!?" 

For the record, I had not. He's equally excited about #SavingTheTurtles without any influence from me. 

What We Ate: 

We ate mostly at sit down restaurants or what's referred to as table service. Everything you'll find at a table service restaurant is reusable down to the cloth napkins. Just make sure to ask for no straw! 

Disney is highly, highly aware of allergies. Everywhere they went they asked if we had allergies before eating which is so considerate! 

Having grown up with a serious dairy allergy, I really appreciated the attention to detail. And, part of me wonders how they would have reacted if I said I was allergic to plastic..... 

It was also pretty easy to find veg friendly options at the sit down restaurants. Even at the pool, the food was served in real plates! I did carry a napkin and bamboo fork on me which came in handy. 

What I packed for a zero waste trip to disneyland from www.goingzerorwaste.com

I'm going to list the restaurants we ate at, but know that there are a lot more options than just this. 


  • Steak House 55 for high tea
  • The Lamplighter - ask for no straw with drink orders
  • Disneyland Hotel Poolside - ask for no straw, bring a napkin and fork, fill up your waterbottle at the fountains
  • Splitsville 
  • Al Fresca Tasting Terrace (Cannot highly recommend enough!!) 
  • Carthay Circle 


When it comes to snacks, look for the carts that serve only with paper like a Mickey pretzel or a churro.

Make sure to carry the paper out with you to compost it! 

You can also find many stores that have bakery cases. If you ask really, really nicely they'll place the treat straight into your cloth napkin. I picked up a cookie to share. 

Another conscious wasteful decision I made was trying out the world famous dairy-free Dole Whip! I had to try some. It was delicious and I do not regret it one bit. Besides, one tiny plastic dish really isn't the end of the world. 

What I packed for a zero waste trip to disneyland from www.goingzerorwaste.com

As far as Disney goes you can pack your own snacks! So, fill up a stasher bag or two full of granola to bring into the park. 

Popular Questions: 

Before writing this post I received several questions that I want to answer. 

Did you buy any accessories or souvenirs why or why not? 

I did not buy any accessories. Originally I was going to ask a friend if I could borrow their ears before I went, but the Maid of Honor bought all of us matching ears for the park. 

I brought my ears home, and will re-wear them if I go to Disney again. I did not buy any souvenirs. I'm not a hardcore Disney goer and I couldn't foresee myself wanting to wear Mickey clad gear in the real world. 

However, if that's your style and something that you would absolutely love to wear then by all means pick something up. Just remember to bring a reusable bag! 

Did you suffer every time you saw single use plastic? 

I didn't suffer.... but I certainly dreamed of a world full of reusables. I also did a little happy dance every time I saw someone filling up their reusable water bottle! 

What I packed for a zero waste trip to disneyland from www.goingzerorwaste.com

Is it still fun to go as an adult? 

Yeah, I had a lot of fun. I really enjoyed the Cars ride and the Guardians of the Galaxy ride formerly known as Tower of Terror. 

I don't think that I'm going for a solo trip anytime soon, but I definitely enjoyed myself. 

Are there recycle bins in the park? 

Yes! There are recycling bins, but unfortunately no compost bins. 

What is Disney doing to reduce their environmental footprint? 

I'm actually pretty impressed with several of their initiatives. If you're interested in reading more I can highly recommend their Environmental Goals and Targets PDF. 

Zero waste is actually one of their longterm goals, with a goal to reduce 60% of their waste by 2020. Here's a snippet from the PDF. 

Zero waste trip to disneyland from www.goingzerorwaste.com

"Meeting the 2020 target will require the adoption of a waste management hierarchy, as follows:

  1. Reduce
  2. Reuse
  3. Recycle or Compost
  4. Non-thermal waste-to-energy, such an anaerobic digestion
  5. Landfill (with energy/methane recovery) or thermal waste-to-energy (incineration with energy recovery)
  6. Landfill without energy recovery
  7. Incineration without energy recovery

Following this hierarchy will require more aggressive waste prevention, reuse (internal and external donations) and recycling and composting programs, for both operational and construction waste.

We expect to combine technical efforts such as improved source separation of recyclables and organics, and development of new or enhanced programs with regional Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs), composting and anaerobic digestion facilities, with initiatives to increase employee awareness and engagement on reducing the amount of waste generated." 

What three things would you tell disney to change to reduce their waste? 

Having said all that, while I am excited about their initiatives and am looking forward to seeing them implemented, there are still a few things I would like to see emphasized. 

  1.  Make sure that compost is readily available and that there would be a lot of education around composting. 
  2. I'd love to see a Wall-E world that focused on environmental education. 
  3. That they allowed reusables to be refilled at the WHOLE park! Cups, coffee, bowls, you name it! With washing stations and educational signs! 

Clearly education is something I'd love to see them focus on. I believe they do quite a bit of that at Animal Kingdom in Disney World, but I've never been to Animal Kingdom. 

Anyways, a girl can dream right!?

Have you been to Disneyland recently? What did you think of their waste management?

If you're headed to Disney let me know if you found this review helpful and be sure to leave any extra tips you might have in the comments for those traveling soon! 

Zero waste at disneyland from www.goingzerowaste.com
A huge shout out and thank you to Rewilder for sponsoring this post!

If you're traveling, their airbag backpack makes the perfect carry-on and weekend trip companion. Make sure to check them out! 

Going Zero Waste in NYC

A couple of weeks ago I got to go to NYC, and it was awesome!! I only wish that I had a couple more days to explore more of the city. I was invited up for an interview with Refinery 29.

I got to spend a day on set with hair, makeup, and best of all - my mom! My mom came up from Arkansas and we overindulged in Italian food and broadway shows. 

Going zero waste in NYC from www.goingzerowaste.com

If you didn't know, I've been doing theatre professionally for years. I majored in musical theatre, and even met my husband at a gig in PA.

I've been performing since I was three, and I was "discovered" singing and dancing to Aladdin in the electronics section of target. A director of a local theatre in Florida approached my mom about upcoming auditions. I auditioned and was cast in my debut performance - Little Miss Muppet.

It's funny, I never once questioned what I was going to be when I grew up. I always new I wanted to be an actor.

For my sixteenth birthday, my parents surprised me with a trip to NYC to go see my first broadway show Phantom of the Opera.

Going zero waste in NYC from www.goingzerowaste.com

I screamed. I cried. It's one of those memories when you think back and you can't help but feel unending joy. 

I remember everything about that moment. It was like an out of body experience. We flew out of the Little Rock airport into LaGuardia, and let me tell you...

The skyscrapers, the concrete jungle, the lights, the hustle and bustle - it's everything they talk about in the songs. It was magical, and I had never seen anything like it. 

Just look how cute I was 10 years ago!

going zero waste in NYC from goingzerowaste.com

I have to say, my fashion sense has improved... but really not much has changed. 

We stayed in the theatre district, ate amazing Italian food, and saw shows. Sound familiar? What can I say, I'm a creature of habit.

I landed in NYC on Thursday night and met up with my mom at the Gotham hotel near Times Square. 

Now that I'm working freelance for Pela, I don't get out the house much. Which is perfectly fine by me! I am a homebody. But, it means that I'm not used to being surrounded by others - especially their germs in such a confined space. 

I immediately wasn't feeling super great. I knew that I need some kale stat. 

I don't know about you, but when every I eat nutrient rich foods I instantly feel better. On Friday morning I headed over to the warehouse for the photo shoot. It was absolutely amazing. I spent most of my day in a bathrobe and getting pampered with hair, makeup, and it was catered with the most AMAZING food. 

Going zero waste in NYC from www.goingzerowaste.com

It was exactly what I needed. It was a huge kale salad with quinoa, roasted beets, oranges, croutons, and a delicious peanut dressing.It was exactly what my body was craving.

I'm really thankful that I brought a tiffin* with me for lunch. This way I could avoid disposable plates. I also had my water bottle* on me which I could fill up from the water cooler.

I did not bring a fork with me, and used one of the compostable ones they had on the lunch table. IDK if it will actually be composted, but I'm not going to sweat it. 

After the shoot, we met up with my childhood best friend who's an artist living in Brooklyn. When I lived in San Antonio, we would have sleepovers EVERY Saturday night where we played a lot of playstation games like Donald Duck Going Quackers and Puppies to the Rescue.  

She took us to Roberta's and we shared some delicious pastas and catching up from over the years.  

Going zero waste in NYC from www.goingzerowaste.com
Going zero waste in NYC from www.goingzerowaste.com
Going zero waste in NYC from www.goingzerowaste.com

The next morning, mom and I slept in and leisurely got breakfast at 1 in the afternoon. We went to Gotan and it was so good!! 

I got a matcha latte and shakshuka. My mom got the farmhouse breakfast with coffee, and we both got a cup of fresh squeezed OJ. I'm not terribly crazy about orange juice, but my body appreciated the vitamin C boost.

Then we walked all through central park, window shopped on fifth ave, and hit up a swanky NYC Goodwill. 

Then we went out to a Brasserie Athénée before getting to see Anastasia. I was honestly, a little underwhelmed by the thought of seeing Anastasia. 

It had been my favorite animated movie growing up, but I was pleasantly surprised. The show was so adorable! They did an absolute amazing job. 10/10 would recommend. 

Going zero waste in NYC from www.goingzerowaste.com
Going zero waste in NYC from www.goingzerowaste.com
Going zero waste in NYC from www.goingzerowaste.com

The next morning we grabbed lunch at Sardi's. We wanted to go to the Waldorf, but it was closed for renovations. 

My grandmother, the one who passed away last year, moved to NYC on a whim. She went to visit one of her friends and decided not to leave. 

She wound up getting a job as a party planner at the Waldorf Astoria, and I remember her telling me all about the parties she planned and the famous people she got to rub elbows with like Elizabeth Taylor.

She talked about going to Sardi's often, and we decided we'd go there in her honor. 

We had a champagne toast before heading to Hammilton. 

Going zero waste in NYC from www.goingzerowaste.com

Then we pretty much headed back to the hotel and packed. We both left the next morning. 

We didn't have time to do a lot, but it was a really lovely trip! I definitely have a list of places I want to visit when I go back, and I would also love to meet up with some fellow zero wasters too. 

This post contains affiliate linking. It's denoted with an asterisk. This means if you choose to purchase one of these items I will make a slight commission for referring you. You can read more on my disclosure page