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beach essentials

15 Eco-Friendly Beach Essentials for Your Next Vacation

If you’re taking a beach trip, chances are you love the ocean and appreciate its beauty. Unfortunately, our beautiful beaches experience heavy pollution. The last thing you want to do when visiting the beach is to further contribute to the problem. We’ve compiled a great list of sustainable beach essentials to ensure your next trip to the beach is fun, and responsible. 

Simply use this article as your beach vacation checklist and you’ll be all set to hit the beach sustainably. 

Why It’s Important to Choose Eco-friendly Beach Gear

While many of us love the ocean, we are responsible for its pollution. The ocean is home to important ecosystems that are essential for our survival. The biggest culprit of ocean pollution? Plastic. It’s predicted that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish, with an estimated eight million metric tons of plastic dumped into the ocean annually. Bottom line: we are consuming far too much plastic and it has to stop. 

beach essentials
Photo by Pexels.

Thankfully, we have alternative ways of living that can help minimize our impact on the environment. One of the easiest, and most important things we can do as individuals is to strive to live a sustainable and zero waste lifestyle. 

When we visit the beach, what we bring with us is of utmost importance. By choosing sustainable, eco-friendly items, we don’t have to worry about shedding microplastics, toxic chemicals or dumping trash into the ocean. 

When possible, choose to swap or replace your beach essentials for sustainable alternatives and avoid bringing anything with plastic in it to the beach. 

Below we’ve included our favorite sustainable swaps for all your beach essentials. We made sure to include brands with a wide range of price points styles and as many unisex options as we could.

As a reminder, while we’ve done our research, we always encourage you to do yours to ensure anything you support is up to your personal standard.  

14 Fantastic Sustainable Beach Essentials

BOLD Swim sustainable swimwear
Photo by BOLD Swim.

Sustainable Swimwear

Sustainable swimwear should be at the top of your beach day essentials list, after all, how are you going to swim without a swimsuit? Swimwear is also the most important beach item to make sustainable. Every time you go in the water while wearing traditional synthetic swimwear, you’re shedding thousands of microplastics directly into the ocean.

 An easy solution is simply switching to sustainable swimwear. With so many great brands these days, with various price points and styles, there’s really no reason not to swap. 

Some of our favorites include BOLD Swim, a WOC-owned business making sustainable swimwear sexy, diverse and accessible. Another great place to check out is Made Trade, a sustainable e-commerce platform with a wide range of options. Last but not least, if you’re looking for eco-friendly board shorts, check out Outerknown for some of the best sustainable swimwear options for men.

For an in depth list of wonderful sustainable swimwear options, check this out

Eco-friendly Beachwear

Second on the list of beach essentials is eco-friendly beachwear. Not everyone wants to be in a swimsuit all day, so finding a great cover-up or beach approved outfit is a must. Just like swimwear, so many of our clothes are made from synthetic materials that shed microplastics and have no business being near the ocean.

Thankfully, Summersalt makes some of the best (and cutest) eco-friendly cover ups and beach essentials for women. Dazey LA also has wonderful organic cotton graphic T’s and stylish flowy pants and tops that would be perfect to lounge at the beach in. Shop here and get 10% off your purchase using our special code (HIDDENLEMUR21).

PrAna and United by Blue have great unisex options, from beach approved loungewear to boardshorts you can spend the day in. 

For even more sustainable clothing brands to choose from, check out this post

Proof sustainable sunglasses
Photo by Proof Eyewear.

Sustainable Sunglasses

Unless it’s a gloomy winter day, chances are you’re going to need sunglasses on your beach vacation. You may not have known sustainable sunglasses existed, but they do, and they are a game changer. Brands are using incredibly creative materials to make recycled and biodegradable sunglasses. 

Proof Eyewear is one of my favorites, thanks to their wide range of stylish options. Their sunglasses are handcrafted using recycled aluminum, sustainable wood and cotton acetate. They also plant a tree with each purchase through the Eden Reforestation Project

Eco-Friendly Beach Jacket

While we may picture beautiful, tropical weather when we hear the word beach, most beaches are prone to some wind. Finding a great sustainable jacket is a must for when the sun starts to set or for chillier days.

Dazey LA has some of the cutest beach essentials, with super soft, lightweight handmade pullovers in fun prints. Shop here and get 10% off your purchase using our special code (HIDDENLEMUR21).

PrAna also has a great selection of cozy, lightweight outerwear for men and women, made from a variety of sustainable materials. 

For unisex hoodies and pullovers made from recycled cotton, The Girlfriend Collection has every color you could want and inclusive sizing. 

Sustainable Shoes

One of the most essential beach accessories is a great pair of sand approved footwear. Traditional flip flops are rarely sustainable, so finding eco-friendly alternatives is important. 

Nisolo has some of the cutest sustainable sandals and slides out there, as well as hand woven slip ons for men. A climate neutral, certified B Corp, everything they produce is ethically made in Peru with fair paying employment.  

If you need more support, or want to go for a run along the beach, then you have to check out Allbirds. They make fantastic water resistant runners, slip ons and sneakers for both men and women. 

They list the carbon footprint of each shoe and make their products from ZQ Merino Wool, as well as other natural and recycled materials. Plus, their shoes are machine washable, which is great for when you can’t get the sand out.  

IGLOO recycled coolers
Photo by IGLOO.

Recycled Beach Cooler

A cooler is one of those summer beach essentials you absolutely cannot forget. What’s a beach vacation without a cool beverage or chilled, sustainable wine, to keep you refreshed throughout the day? Thankfully, there are now several wonderful eco-friendly beach coolers to choose from. 

Leading the way, we have IGLOO with their new ECOCOOL collection. They’ve created hardside coolers and soft cooler bags made entirely of recycled plastic, as well as disposable coolers that are biodegradable and compostable.

Reusable Kitchenware and Eco-friendly Water Bottle

No beach trip is complete without a picnic filled with yummy, local eats and lots of hydrating beverages. It can be tempting to pack the plastic cutlery or paper plates but there are better alternatives like reusable kitchenware. There are so many fantastic, accessibly priced items out there it can be hard to know where to start. 

A great option for everything reusable is S’well. They have a plethora of reusable options from mugs, to water bottles, to tupperware. Plus they have an extensive variety of colors and shapes to choose from.

Alternatively, United by Blue has a wonderful selection of plastic free kitchenware including full dish sets, reusable sandwich bags, and even beach approved cooking items. If you're spending a full day or weekend camping at the beach, they are the best place to shop for your beach essentials.

Last but not least, we’re huge fans of Jungle Culture. They make durable bamboo straws, wooden cutlery and beautiful, eco-friendly bowls from coconut shells. Between these three brands, you have everything you need for a fully sustainable beach picnic. 

Sustainable Beach Chairs

A day the beach is not complete without comfy and cute beach chairs. Low Tides makes some of the best sustainable chairs out there. With a variety of designs, sizes, and even sets for the whole family, they have an awesome selection of sustainable beach gear. 

Their upcycled plastic chairs are made entirely from recycled ocean plastic complete with two cup holders, a smartphone holder and 5 different reclining settings. 

If you’re looking for another option, Sustainable Travel & Living has the perfect set for both camping and the beach. These wooden, portable, folding chairs are handmade in the US and come with a folding wooden table – perfect for a beach picnic. 

sustainable beach umbrella
Photo by Land & Sand.

Recycled Umbrella

If you’re not a big fan of laying out in the sun all day, finding an eco-friendly umbrella is probably at the top of your list. Land & Sand makes the best recycled beach umbrellas out there.

Made from certified REPREVE (recycled ocean plastic), these lightweight beach umbrellas also provide UPF 50+ protection. They come in gorgeous, boho prints and solids. They also sell a variety of sustainable beach gear like towels, blankets and sunscreen. 

Eco-friendly Beach Towels

For the best beach blankets out there, Sand Cloud is the first place you should look. Their Turkish cotton towels are quick drying, sand resistant, lightweight and sustainably made. They have tons of fun prints to choose from and various sizes. Plus 10% of each purchase goes back to various organizations helping marine conservation. 

If you’re looking for more sustainable beach towels, Ten Tree makes wonderful organic cotton beach blankets and recycled towels. Last but not least, Sustainable Travel & Living has a few fun, quick drying beach and yoga towels made from recycled plastic bottles. 

Terra Thread sustainable totes
Photo by Terra Thread.

Sustainable Tote Bag

Another one of my favorite beach essentials is the sustainable tote bag. What else are you going to use to carry your necessities in? Terra Thread makes some staple tote bags from organic canvas, mesh and cotton. Ecobags is another great place to find recycled canvas tote bags in every color or graphic you could want. 

If you’re looking for cute beach bags, then Sustainable Travel & Living should be your go-to. They have various styles in all shapes, sizes and colors made from organic, recycled and upcycled materials. 

Eco-friendly Backpack

If sustainable tote bags aren’t your thing, or you need something a little more heavy duty, then a great backpack may be a better beach accessory for you. Fill your backpack with all your beach essentials so you don’t have to leave anything at home. 

United by Blue has a wide variety of options to choose from. Their sustainable backpacks are made from recycled and vegan materials, with backpacks ranging from 9 to 25 liters. They also have a line of eco-friendly duffels that may be better suited for your beach vacation. 

Sustainable Beach Hat

In order to protect your beautiful face and scalp from the sun, a sustainable hat is one of the more essential beach items. We have several great recommendations to choose from, starting with Tree Tribe. They are your go-to for snapbacks, made from a flax and cotton blend. For each purchase you make, they plant a tree through their partner organization

If you’re looking for more unisex options, PrAna has cute trucker caps made from recycled polyester, mesh and organic cotton. They also carry a fun line of organic cotton headbands. 

Cocokind sustainable sunscreen
Photo by Cocokind.

Reef Safe Sunscreen

Bad news: most sunscreens are incredibly harmful for our coral reefs and other fragile sea life. Finding eco-friendly, reef safe sunscreen is one of the top beach necessities. 

Cocokind, an awesome sustainable beauty brand, makes a fantastic lightweight sunscreen. Their mineral-based, zinc oxide sunscreen is SPF 32 and protects against UVA and UVB rays, as well as pollution and blue light. 

They even include the carbon emissions for all their products and step by step instructions for how to properly recycle the sugarcane tubes their sunscreen comes in. 

If you’re looking for a zero waste option, Raw Elements makes fantastic reef safe, water resistant sunscreen that is completely plastic and waste free. 

Sustainable Hair Care

If you’re spending a day, or a week at the beach, your hair will most likely need some assistance. You might not think that sustainable hair care is one of the top things to bring to the beach but it is. From greasy sunscreen, to swimming in the ocean, to sand blowing all over your scalp – the beach is hard on our hair. 

Eco Roots has everything you need from zero waste dry shampoo, 100% mulberry silk scrunchies, and a compostable wooden hair brush. This way you can leave the beach feeling and looking refreshed. 

Hey reader! Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase using any of these links, we'll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Hidden Lemur is committed to promoting sustainable travel, and we only partner with brands that we believe contribute positively to that cause.

Alicia Briggs

Alicia Briggs

Full-time digital nomad since 2018, I run a slow travel & sustainable living blog. I'm a freelance writer, editor & content creator. I love veggie tacos, rooftop happy hours, day hikes and living in cities I had never heard of before moving there.

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