With summer already upon us, escaping for a holiday somewhere hotter than the UK (or the UK if we get another heatwave) is on everyone’s minds. What many of us don’t know is that our summer holiday could be bad for the planet. Now I know you’re probably thinking “What isn’t bad for the planet?” but there are easy ways you can make your holiday more sustainable. Imagine taking a dip in the hot Mediterranean sea with the knowledge that your sunscreen isn’t harming the environment, sounds pretty good right?
Check out our blog on how to eat sustainably by reducing your food waste at home.
In the past few years, more information is surfacing about the detrimental impacts our standard sunscreens are having on the ocean’s eco-system. Studies from Hawaii, Australia, Florida and the Caribbean have all reported that the coral reefs are being bleached and sunscreen is one of the main suspects.
You might be asking why sunscreens are so bad for the very environment they were made for? Well, most mainstream suncream brands contain the chemical oxybenzone, and while this chemical is great for protecting our skin from sun damage, it is disastrous for the coral reefs. In fact, a study found this stuff is so bad for the coral reefs that even a small amount applied to someone’s hand and then dipped in water containing coral, fully bleached the coral in 96 hours.
Never fear, there are wonderful companies out there who are making sustainable sunscreens, ready for you to slap on whilst on holiday. Here are 3 environmentally friendly and vegan sunscreens.
This Australian-based company is vegetarian, rather than vegan, as they sometimes use beeswax in their products. Their sunscreen is vegan though and safe for coral reefs!
Their SunButter SPF50 is made with certified sustainable ingredients and the broad-spectrum mineral zinc oxide, which blocks both UVA and UVB rays. Its natural ingredients also have superior restorative and nourishing abilities, no matter your skin type. At $29.95 (Australian dollars, so about $20.59 US dollars) for 100g, it’s a little pricey. However, as a non-aqueous solution, it lasts longer than a water-based sunscreen and comes in an awesome reusable tin!
Green people offer a selection of sunscreens, some of them are not vegan or coral safe. However, they label their products so you can easily tell which ones are.
Their Edelweiss sunscreen with a tan accelerator (SPF 15) is both certified vegan and coral safe. It comes in two sizes, one of which is small enough to take in your hand luggage. At £21 for 200ml and £14 for 100ml, it’s not especially cheap, but you are paying more for natural and eco-friendly ingredients. They offer free delivery on all UK orders, which is a bonus. Unfortunately, there are no vegan products that are over SPF15, so if you need stronger sun protection you’ll have to use a different brand.
This company offers a range of coral safe and vegan sunscreen in SPF 15, SPF 30 and SPF 50. On Amazon, you can buy 100ml for between £9- £10, so they are slightly pricey. This does mean, however, that you can take them as hand luggage. You can also get them with free delivery via Amazon if you spend over £20. This product is great for most people because there are a variety of SPFs, but they do recommend that people with oily skin don’t use these products as a lot of the ingredients are oils.
Goddess Garden Organics has a range of mineral sunscreens. This means that the active ingredient, the thing that protects you from the sun, is made from minerals. Their products are organic, reef safe and vegan. You can purchase them from Amazon and get free delivery if the total is over £20.
Check out our blog on how to lead a zero-waste and vegan lifestyle in Prague.
Sustainable Holiday clothing
Buy your holiday clothing from a company that sources their materials ethically and in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way.
Now you have your sunscreen sorted, it’s time to get a new swimsuit. It might be tempting to head to Primark or Boohoo and snatch a cheap and disposable bikini for your holiday, but the environmental and ethical consequences behind that purchase are pretty shocking.
Fast fashion is responsible for a lot of greenhouse gas production, a huge amount of landfill, and inhumane working conditions. There are companies out there that are making steps to change the way we think about fashion. The prices might be more expensive but you can be sure that the item will last longer and is helping save our planet.
Unfortunately for us Brits, Alyned only offers shipping to the US. If you live stateside, it’s time to get excited. Alyned is a sustainable, eco-friendly and body positive company. They offer a range of gorgeous holiday swimsuits at a reasonable price. Their items are typically made from recycled plastic bottles and they do a lot to help our beautiful planet, including organising beach cleanups. Their items come in a range of sizes from XS to 3X, so there really is something for everyone.
This Danish company make loungewear, lingerie, and swimwear. They use sustainable materials to make their clothing such as recycled polyester. As a bonus, their packaging is also either recyclable or biodegradable. The prices are mid-range, and they offer free shipping on orders over 200€. Be careful though, whilst most of their products are vegan, some use recycled wool and/or milk.
Koru is an American company that offers worldwide shipping (though it is around $19, which is expensive). All of their swimwear is made using regenerated nylon yarn derived from things like discarded fishing nets. Their prices are mid-range but high quality.
This company uses recycled plastic to create beautiful activewear and swimwear – perfect for your summer holiday. Their designs are unique, groovy and bound to get tonnes of compliments. With a catchphrase of ”make sustainability sexy” you can be sure you’re going to look good and be doing good for the environment. The best news is that they offer international shipping to the UK for around £9.
Flying Sustainably to Your Holiday
It’s pretty obvious that flying isn’t very environmentally friendly. In fact, long haul flights can produce a huge amount of CO2. There are ways that you can reduce the impact of flying. Obviously the best one is not to fly, but this isn’t an option for some people. So for those of us who love to jet off on holiday to lands far away, here are some tips to reduce your carbon footprint.
Book direct holiday flights
When choosing sustainable holiday flights, opt for those that have the least layovers – direct is best. This is because when you have layovers you tend to fly a greater distance, which obviously means more emissions. It also takes a lot of energy for a plane to take off, so with direct flights the number of takeoffs is reduced.
Offset carbon emissions by giving back
Some companies (such as KLM) use biofuels for certain flights like the Amsterdam to LAX flight, and others (such as Delta) do their best to offset their emissions. If you’re flying with a company that doesn’t do these things, there are ways you can offset your emissions.
Flygreen is a flight comparison site that will offset your carbon emissions when you book through them. Websites such as carbonfootprint and carbonfund allow you to input your flight information – they then provide options for offsetting your carbon footprint and tell you how much you need to donate in order to do so.
Eating vegan food – not just on holiday!
I think it’s pretty common knowledge that eating a vegan diet is one of the best things you can do for the environment (and yourself and animals)! If you eat a vegan diet for a year, you will offset the carbon emissions for a long haul flight.
At the end of the day, there is no ‘perfect’ and sustainable way to fly to your holiday, but if you’re mindful and do your best, that’s all you can do.
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Comprised of Alice and Lucy Johnson. Both work online and travel the world whilst exploring all the vegan food on offer. Building an online vegan community for people everywhere!