7 Tips for an Eco-Friendly Beach Day

7 Tips for an Eco-Friendly Beach Day

Summertime means we can all finally head to the beach to unplug, soak up the sun and maybe catch a couple of waves! As with all of our time spent outdoors, it’s important to local ecosystems that we leave the beach (or trail, or park) as clean, or cleaner(!) than it was when we arrived.

The beach and our oceans are home to hundreds of thousands of species of marine wildlife. To live in harmony with our seaside friends, and ensure we can all enjoy clean, healthy beaches for summers to come, read on learn about how to enjoy the beach and leave it in better shape than you found it.

How Can I Be Eco-Friendly at the Beach?

We all love a beach day, but because we have to bring everything we need for the day with us, it unfortunately means that sometimes some items are left behind, creating beach litter which can turn into ocean pollution. To continue our fun beach days throughout the summer without compromising the health of our planet and our aquatic friends, we’re happy to share our top 7 tips for an eco-friendly day at the beach.

#1 Plan a Zero-Waste Day

Roughly 60–80% of marine debris found along our coastlines and in our oceans comes from single-use items such as food packing, bags, utensils, and straws that were improperly disposed of or carried by the wind into the ocean. Not only do these items make our beaches and oceans look unappealing, but they also pose a threat to our marine wildlife.

Fish, turtles, and other aquatic animals often become entangled in this pollution which can lead to injury and even suffocation. Plus, many animals mistake debris for food. When eaten, these items can block digestive tracts and injure their organs.

 To prevent unnecessary beach and ocean pollution, invest in reusable, eco-friendly beach supplies, rather than their disposable counterparts.

Reusable items can include:

  • Cooler Bags – Pack your favorite beach snacks in Blue Avocado’s Click ‘n Go Insulated Roll Top Bag. Both versatile and functional, this reusable insulated beach bag keeps food fresh even on the hottest summer days and can easily compress flat or roll up when you’re done using it. Plus, its outer material is made from 50% recycled ocean-bound plastics including recycled plastic bottles, meaning it’s pulling double duty keeping our beaches and oceans plastic-free!
  • Coolers: Igoo’s new ECOCOOL collection features the world’s first hardside coolers made with recycled plastic. In fact, to produce their first run of this collection, Igloo used 116,000 pounds of recycled yogurt cups and milk jugs—that’s enough plastic to fill about 10 football fields.[1]
  • Cutlery – You don’t have to lug your heavy kitchen silverware to the beach to enjoy a crisp salad or scoop of Italian ice. Instead, check out Chicobag’s lightweight bamboo utensil set. This dishwasher-safe set is also conveniently held in a utensil case made from 100% recycled ocean-bound plastic and available in various fun summer colors. One set replaces 1,300 single-use utensils throughout tts life!
  • Food Containers – A pioneer in sustainable products, Preserve, offers a 100% recyclable container set, made from 100% recycled plastic. It’s both durable and dishwasher safe, so it can be washed and reused for all your summer beach days!
  • Straws Eco-friendly brand Final offers a line of reusable and portable straws. Made from stainless steel and silicone, these straws fold up so they can be stored and transported in their convenient carrying case (which is made from post-consumer recycled plastic). Plus, when you purchase a FinalStraw, you automatically receive a telescoping brush to make cleaning your straw a (cool ocean) breeze.
  • Napkins Meema Cotton Napkins are made with upcycled denim and cotton scraps, which are stopped from going to the landfill to give them a second life. By recycling these cloths, they save 20,000 liters if water in production for every kg of material used!

#2 Find Protection with an Ocean-Friendly Mineral Sunscreen

While sunscreen is a necessary beach day companion to protect your skin against harmful UV rays, not all sunscreens are created equal. Many of the ingredients found in chemical sunscreens, particularly Oxybenzone, threaten ocean coral and other marine wildlife, even if you’re not in direct contact with them. That’s because when you swim in the ocean after applying sunscreen, that sunscreen, and all the chemicals within it, wash off into the water.  This can lead to:

  • Impaired green algae growth and photosynthesis
  • Bleached, damaged, or deformed coral reefs
  • Decreased fertility and reproduction in fish
  • Accumulated chemicals in dolphin tissues
  • Crippled reproductive and immune systems in sea urchins

To protect your skin and the ocean, replace your chemical sunscreen with an eco-friendly mineral sunscreen, sometimes referred to as a physical sunscreen, which contain minerals that sit on top of the skin and help physically shield it from harmful UV rays. Mineral sunscreen is as effective as chemical sunscreen at blocking the sun’s rays and use natural ingredients such as zinc instead of chemicals such as titanium dioxide and octinoxate to block the sun.

Check out Sea & Summit’s Organic Sunscreen- it’s reef (and river) safe, 100% vegan and is packaged in 100% recycled materials. It’s a win for animals, for the planet, and for your skin.

#3 Choose Sustainable Beach-Friendly Brands

An eco-friendly beach day isn’t just about preventing chemicals and trash from polluting our environment while you’re there. If you support sustainable brands that create their products from various types of recycled material, your beach gear choices can also help our environment before you even step onto the sand!

Some of our favorite sustainable brands include:

  • Billabong – Ready to sea change? Billabong is. That’s why they’ve introduced their Eco Conscious swim line made with recycled yarns produced from pre and post-consumer plastic waste. In addition to their positive impact on the environment, the colors and patterns of their swimsuits and rash guards make them summer must-haves.
  • EvolveEvolve has spent the last year developing their revolutionary Ecolite fabric to produce soft, sustainable beach towels made from recycled plastics. Each of their eco-friendly beach towels contains approximately 20 recycled plastic bottles, keeping waste off our beaches and out of our oceans. Plus, they’re naturally sand repellent and water absorbent, making them the perfect fit whether you’re spending your beach days splashing in the ocean or basking in the sun.
  • Wildwood Sunglasses – On a mission to be eco-friendly and stylish, Wildwood Eyewear make their wood sunglasses from BPA-free recycled plastic and sustainable bamboo wood and they’ve partnered with the Eden Reforestation Project to plant over 51 thousand trees since May 2020!
  • Bagito – Wondering how you’re going to haul all of your eco-friendly gear to the beach? Check out Bagito. Their line of durable, reusable, environmentally-friendly shopping bags are made from 100% recycled plastic and come in a variety of sizes to accommodate any beach trip.
  • 4ocean - this purpose-driven company on a mission to end the major ocean plastic crisis, offers a multi-functional beach bag & cleanup tote you can use to can clean up your trash (and other trash you find in the sand) to dispose of at home. Plus, every bag purchased funds the removal of one pound of trash from the ocean and coastlines.

#4 Support Establishments with Eco-Friendly Practices

If you’re planning a longer beach getaway, your eco-friendly beach tips can also support establishments with eco-friendly practices. With websites such as Green Pearls, you can easily find beach hotels, resorts, and restaurants that promote eco-friendly practices which include:

  • Providing reusable containers, dishes, silverware, and glassware
  • Choosing cloth napkins over paper napkins
  • Providing easy access to recycling bins
  • Sourcing food from local suppliers
  • Equipping rooms with lights and thermostats that have occupancy sensors to save energy

 By choosing these establishments over their competitors, you help drive the demand for all establishments to implement eco-friendly practices.

#5 Keep Your Food to Yourself

While we don’t doubt that your watermelon and feta salad is a legendary lunch creation, you shouldn’t share it with seagulls or other beach-dwelling animals. In fact, for an eco-friendly beach day, it’s best to keep all your food and snacks to yourself. 

Despite how insistent seagulls and other animals may seem when it comes to your food, they have different digestive systems and nutritional needs than we do. This means what’s healthy for us can be harmful to them. Plus, feeding beach wildlife can increase the amount of animal waste in the area, which throws off the delicate balance of our ecosystem.

#6 Organize an Impromptu Clean-Up

Between catching waves on your surfboard and evening out those tan lines, consider taking some time to organize a beach cleanup with your family and friends. By bringing a few trash and recycling bags along on your beach day, you can collect litter you find along the shoreline to dispose of it properly and prevent it from reaching the ocean.

#7 Choose Eco-Friendly Transportation

Every year, roughly 180 million Americans make 2 billion trips to the beach.[2] If those trips are all made by car, that means a significant amount of carbon dioxide is being released into the atmosphere.

To reduce your own carbon footprint this summer, try carpooling to the beach rather than driving alone or taking public transportation like a local shuttle or bus. If you’re lucky enough to live along the coast, consider walking or biking to the beach instead of driving. It’s better for the environment, and it gives you a little extra time to enjoy the sun.

For Cleaner Beaches and Better Hydration, Choose ZenWTR

Refresh yourself while restoring our oceans by choosing ZenWTR. ZenWTR is the only beverage in the world delivered to you in a bottle made from 100% recycled, certified ocean-bound plastic. In fact, with each ZenWTR you purchase, you prevent up to 5 ocean-bound plastic bottles from reaching and polluting the ocean, contributing to our mission to rescue 50 million pounds of ocean-bound plastic by 2025.

To keep our beaches clean and oceans plastic-free, choose ZenWTR.


National Today. Clean Beaches Week – July 1-7, 2021. 

Ocean Health Index. Trash Pollution. 

National Ocean Service. Skincare Chemicals and Coral Reefs.

Seven Seas Media. 7 Ways Beach-Going Can Be Eco-Friendly. 

Seaside Planet. How Can I Be Eco-Friendly at the Beach? (12 Tips!). 

[1] Igoo

[2] National Today. Clean Beaches Week – July 1-7, 2021.