Summer is here, and we’re all ready to rest, relax, and head for the beach. There’s nothing better than the feeling of sand between your toes and the sun on your skin; maybe even a fresh coconut thrown in for good measure! Part of our pledge to protect planet earth is working our hardest to look out for marine life and the habitats they call home, which is why we’ve come up with some sustainable beach essentials and tips for your next beach day.
Sustainable Beach Essentials & Tips
Did you know that around 10 million tonnes of plastic end up in our oceans every year? This has a knock-on effect on marine life, with many sea creatures ingesting plastic, leading to injury, illness, or even death. Additionally, damaging chemicals found in sun cream and other body products have been found to harm coral, leading to the sad phenomenon of coral bleaching.
By switching out our usual beach items for eco-friendly beach products, we can work to protect and preserve our beautiful beaches, marine life, and ocean. Discover our favorite Zany&Shy sustainable beach essentials…
1. Reef-Safe Sunscreen (Number 1 Beach Essential)
Most generic sunscreens contain 3 harmful chemicals: Oxybenzone, Octinoxate, and Octocrylene. These chemicals have adverse effects on coral reefs and are also thought to contribute to reproductive issues and defects in fish. As coral reefs are one of the most essential ecosystems on the planet, we must try to protect them and prevent coral bleaching (coral turns white from stress, leading to starvation, disease, and possibly death). In fact, Hawaii has already banned the sale of sunscreen with these types of harmful chemicals.
When we wear sunscreen with these chemicals, it is washed off in the ocean when we swim. It can even go down the drain and into the sea when we shower. Instead, choose a reef-safe sunscreen that is free of harmful ingredients. It’s better for the ocean and your skin too! Plus, many reef-safe sunscreen brands sell their items in plastic-free packaging so that you can do your bit for the planet too.
You can buy great reef-safe sunscreens from:
2. Sustainable Swimwear
Beautiful swimwear is one of our staple beach essentials. Every season, fast fashion brands advertise their newest range of swimwear, and it's easy to be tempted to purchase the latest looks. Instead, look first and see if you have any swimwear in your closet you can reuse this year; perhaps you can pair it with different accessories or a sarong to make it feel like a new outfit?
If you want to buy new swimwear this year, choose to buy from sustainable, ethical brands. Research the companies well, ensuring they use local manufacturers, guarantee fair working standards and wages, and use eco-friendly materials. Some innovative companies use recycled materials to make their swimwear—for example, discarded fishing nets and plastic bottles.
Some of our favorite swimwear brands are:
3. Environmentally-Friendly Beach Bag
A plastic-free beach day is the only way! By switching out plastic bags for an environmentally-friendly beach bag, you lower the risk of leaving plastic and trash at the beach. This makes for a cleaner, more beautiful environment and also prevents animals and sea life from getting caught up in plastic or ingesting it.
What’s more, an environmentally-friendly beach bag looks better too! Choose from a minimal netted bag or a chic tote made from natural materials like jute and hemp; just make sure it’s large enough to fit your beach essentials.
Where to buy a sustainable beach bag: Search for environmentally-friendly beach bags near you, so you can buy locally and reduce the carbon footprint of the product delivery. We like these sustainably-made tote bags from TwoThirds in Barcelona.
4. Sustainable Beach Towel
One of the most important beach essentials is a sustainable beach towel. Choose one made from natural or recycled materials, like reclaimed plastic waste from the ocean. Not only does a sustainable beach towel look great, but it also does good for the planet!
Zany&Shy Beach Essentials: Choose a quick-drying material like Turkish cotton. You can find these beach towels from Sand Cloud, a brand that also donates a portion of all sales to marine conservation charities. The lightweight material also rolls up small in your beach bag or suitcase.
Read the Zany&Shy Sustainable Travel Guide
5. Reusable Containers
You might have all your sustainable beach essentials, but it’s easy to forget the plastic we bring to the beach in the form of food and drink. Instead, plan ahead and pack your picnic and drinks in reusable eco-friendly containers—for example, a bamboo food container or a reusable water bottle. If you’re planning on having a cocktail at the beach, consider bringing your own bamboo straw so you can say ‘no’ to the plastic ones typically offered at beach bars.
Check out these eco-friendly coolers made from recycled plastic
6. Sustainable Jewelry and Accessories
The best way to elevate any beach look is to accessorize with sustainable jewelry. A contemporary asymmetrical black swimsuit looks excellent paired with our dainty Frida Necklace. Alternatively, step up your bracelet stacking game with the Giselle or Amal Bracelet. The best thing about Zany&Shy sustainable jewelry is that caring for the planet and luxury go hand in hand. Plus, it’s suitable to wear in water (read our complete care guide).
One of the top beach essentials is a beach hat, as it’s essential to protect your head and skin from damaging UV rays. Choose a chic, sustainable straw hat like this one from the Italian brand, Kampos, or go for a sportier look by choosing a cap from the Spanish sustainable brand Thinking Mu.
7. Plastic-Free Hair Products
After a long day at the beach, chances are you’ll probably want to wash the sand and salt out of your hair. Instead of using a standard shampoo and conditioner, consider a plastic-free option, like a shampoo bar. Shampoo bars usually come in a small tin, which you can reuse, and are often made with more natural, gentle ingredients (Lush has a great selection!). Best of all, as they come in a bar, you can put them in your hand luggage when traveling on vacation (no liquids!).
Zany&Shy Beach Essentials: A chic top knot hairstyle looks great for a beach day. Consider choosing a colorful, sustainable hair scrunchie from Hunza G.
8. Eco-Friendly Beach Toys
Traveling to the beach with kids? One of the most crucial beach essentials for a family is beach toys. However, most beach toys are made from—you guessed it—plastic! These are mass-produced yearly to keep up with seasonal demands; they’re often cheap, break easily, and then are discarded, meaning more plastic is either left on the beach or landfills.
Instead, shop around for eco-friendly beach toys that don’t cause more harm to the environment. You can get some durable beach toys made from materials like bamboo fiber and biodegradable rubber. They might be more expensive, but they’ll last far longer.
How to be more environmentally-friendly
9. Respect Marine Life (Sustainable Beach Essential!)
The top beach essential to remember is your vow to respect marine life. It’s easy to forget that, as humans, we are encroaching on the habitat of sea life, something we must always appreciate. For example, if you see a crab walking along the shore, don’t be tempted to touch it or catch it in a bucket for others to look at. This can cause significant distress to animals. Always observe from a distance, remembering this is their home, not yours.
Going snorkeling? Remember not to touch coral reefs, as this can cause them stress and, ultimately, result in coral bleaching.
10. Clean up Trash
With all your sustainable beach essentials, you hopefully won’t have any trash to take away from the beach. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t collect any garbage you see left by other people. Bring an extra tote bag with you, and use it to collect any plastic debris you see lying around on the beach. It makes the beach a better place for everyone—both humans and animals!
Zany&Shy Tip: Look for an organized beach clean-up near you. This is a great way to support your local community, look after the environment, and meet other conscious people passionate about the planet.
By switching out our regular plastic-based beach essentials for ones made from natural, sustainable materials, we can feel even better about a day at the beach! Not only will these essentials last longer, but there is less harm caused to the planet and a lower risk of sea life being negatively affected by harmful chemicals, plastic, and human carelessness. So, grab your sustainable beach essentials and enjoy a perfect day by the ocean!