The travel kit list: sustainable beach essentials for 2021

Get ready for the coast with this selection of sustainably minded and ethically produced beach gear for 2021.

By Stephanie Cavagnaro
Published 30 Aug 2021, 15:00 BST, Updated 1 Nov 2021, 09:43 GMT
Left to right: Stay Wild Swim Thea Onepiece, Bohemia Design Arizona Hamman Towel, Bird Eyewear Kaka Honey.

Left to right: Stay Wild Swim Thea Onepiece, Bohemia Design Arizona Hamman Towel, Bird Eyewear Kaka Honey.

Photograph by National Geographic Traveller UK

1. Lack of Color Palma Wide Boater

Handcrafted by artisans in Mexico using baked palm leaves, this boater is a summer staple. Aussie brand Lack of Color’s collection of on-trend hats is produced ethically and sustainably — its factories maintain fair wage standards, the straw and palm used is replenished and its headquarters runs on solar power. An inner elastic sweatband provides a more personalised fit, while a 50+ UPF rating guarantees ultimate sun protection. £91.

2. Denys & Fielding Stowaway Beach Chair

Made in Kent, Denys & Fielding’s beach chairs are made from sustainably sourced Indonesia merpauh wood and cotton canvas that’s GOTS-certified, meaning it’s not just organic but also responsibly produced. They each weigh just five kilos and fold flat, making them portable and slimline enough to slip into your car boot and then carry across sand. The locally printed fabric includes patterns such as peachy stripes and wispy feathers. £68.

3. Bohemia Design Arizona Hamman Towel 

Edinburgh-based Bohemia Design works in ethical partnership with artisans worldwide. Its collection of hammam towels is super absorbent, lightweight and quick-drying. These beachside beauties are handwoven by artisans in Turkey using wooden looms and so stunning they can double as sarongs or picnic blankets. The denim-hued Arizona hammam is crafted from super-soft cotton and bamboo fibres and comes folded into a travel-friendly cotton dust bag. £36.

Left to right: Hastshilp Marlow Woven Bag, Odylique Natural Sun Screen, Denys & Fielding Stowaway Beach Chair.

Photograph by National Geographic Traveller UK

4. Odylique Natural Sun Screen

Fairtrade and family-owned Odylique’s bodycare products are handmade in Suffolk using organic ingredients. Its 100% natural, broad-spectrum SPF30 uses a non-nano zinc oxide filter alongside UV-protective karanja oil. It’s also packed with skin-soothing botanicals such as shea butter, chamomile and sea buckthorn. Hypoallergenic and reef-safe, this plant-based formula is so gentle on sensitive skin it’s even safe for babies. £15.

5. Stay Wild Swim The Thea Onepiece

Sustainable and stylish, these swimsuits are created in London entirely from recycled plastic. Stay Wild’s just-dropped line includes the minimalist The Thea Onepiece, a classic shape with a square neck cut, comfy double-lined fabric and adjustable straps. This made-to-last beach essential is available in shades of ocean blue, red or black, and arrives in recyclable packaging. £110.

6. Bird Eyewear Kaka Honey 

Devon-based Bird Eyewear is a pioneer in sustainable shades — it’s the UK’s first B Corp eyewear brand, joining a rank of businesses certified as socially and environmentally responsible. This golden-hued pair is manufactured from biodegradable bio acetate and sustainably certified sandalwood. They slip into an eco-cork case with a cleaning cloth made from recycled plastic bottles. Each pair purchased funds a solar light for a family in Malawi, Zambia or Uganda. £99.

Left to right: Nae Bay black Piñateux Vegan Sandals, Lack of Color Palmer Wide Boater Hat, Plan Toys Sand Play Set.

Photograph by National Geographic Traveller UK

Plastic-free accessories 

1. Nae Bay Black Piñateux Slip On Vegan Sandals

Portuguese ethical and vegan footwear brand Nae has just released a clutch of minimalist beachy sliders. This durable, leather-effect pair is made from Piñatex (pineapple leaf fibre), providing a much-needed income boost for local farmers. An arch-support footbed is crafted from natural rubber and sustainable cork, while the recycled car-tyre sole is road-ready. £78.

2. Plan Toys Sand Play Set

Little ones can play plastic-free in the sand with this built-to-last wooden bucket and spade set by Plan Toys. It’s ethically and sustainably made in Thailand from the recycled sawdust of rubber trees. The spades are moulded into sea animal shapes, which double as textured stamps. Stocked at eco-friendly Natural Baby Shower, this is an ideal beach companion for ages 18 months and over. £29.95.

3. Hastshilp Marlow Woven Bag (Large)

This boho beach bag’s birth is a beautiful one: it’s hand drawn by small UK-based Hastshilp before artisans in Northern India craft each unique piece, in turn earning a fair wage and stable income. Sturdy and spacious, it’s woven entirely from natural water reed (kauna) grass. An open design means more room for bulky seaside essentials, while medium-length handles can slip over your shoulder or be carried by hand. These handmade statement bags are modern keepsakes. £50.

Published in the September 2021 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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