11 Eco Friendly Phone Cases for a Sustainable Cell
*This post contains affilate links
I’ve had a great track record for looking after my cell phones. Never lost them, never dropped them. And so never needed a phone case, despite being an active person. What can I say, I have good hand-to-eye co-ordination.
But as they say, nothing rose gold lasts forever.
So after years of good luck, I dropped my trusty iphone 6 (sans cover). So, not wanting a repeat (and to prevent the unsustainable habit of replacing needlessly cracked screens), I decided it was time to be a little more conscientious and buy an eco friendly phone cover.
And what a great excuse to dive into the world of sustainable phone cases and share my findings with you.
Hold the phone, if you’re in a rush for mobile protection, here are the most sustainable phone cases we’ve covered. Pela Case’s compostable phone cases are some of the best eco friendly phone cases for the widest variety of models. If natural is more your style, jump down Reveal’s vegan sustainable wood phone cases or Skate4Create’s recycled skateboard deck phone covers.
We’ve broken up these cases by material used: bioplastic, natural, and recycled. For more information on how we decided which eco friendly materials for sustainable phone cases made the list, scroll to the end of the article.
Bioplastic Eco Friendly Phone Cases
1. PELA CASE
Pela Case’s Biodegradable Phone Case
Pela Case has become the biggest name in the realm of eco friendly cell phone cases. Their base material is Flaxstic, which is made of compostable bioplastic elastomer from leftover flax straw. Watch how it’s made.
This material is not only free from BPA, phthalates, and heavy metals, but it meets the child safety standards of all major developed countries.
While certified biodegradable as per U.S. and European standards, these cases are not certifiably home compostable. They take 6 months to 2 years to fully break down depending on the heat and moisture, though industrial composters will do the trick pronto.
Alternatively, mail your old or unwanted cases back through the Pela Cycle program so they can be remade into future cases (and for a 20% discount on your next order).
These cases may look slim, but the soft and flexible (or should we say flaxible?) material is really shock absorbent. I use Pela Case now and can only say positive things.
Aside from the fact that these cases are available for most phone models out there, there’s also a ton of variety in color and design and even etched graphics.
Just note that because the material is porous, it can absorb potent dyes, such as dark wash denim when placed in the pockets of your sustainable jeans.
About Pela Case
Pela Case was founded by Canadian Jeremy Lang. Raised in Saskatchewan (basically the home of flax), he saw first hand how the wasted flax straw left over after harvests was burned. So he came up with the idea of turning flax waste into a useful product.
While Pela tries to keep as much of their supply chain local in Canada (like their Saskatchewan engraver and injection molder), they do outsource some operations to ethical, fair wage factories in Hong Kong.
Their cases not only create fewer CO2 emissions than traditional phone cases, but have so far kept more than 290,461 pounds of plastic from being produced. See their Impact Report for more cool stats.
As a 1% for the Planet member, Pela gives back by donating at least 1% of their sales to clean ocean initiatives such as Surfrider, Save the Waves, and Oceana. They also have a Pay it Forward referral program, which donates $3 to various charities on behalf of the person who made the referral.
Available: Pela Case
2. WILD CASE
Wild Case’s Bioplastic Phone Cases
Wild Case’s eco friendly biodegradable phone cases are made of corn starch PLA and bamboo straw. This PBAT bioplastic is “biodegradable in the sense that it breaks down via microbes metabolizing all the carbon in the polymer”.
In an industrial composter they’ll fully biodegrade in 90 days; in a home composter, it takes 12-24 months, meaning they’re not certifiably home compostable.
These subtle speckled cases feature a smooth, matte texture with just enough grippiness for those of us with butter fingers. The thin design fits in pockets without bulk and is compatible with wireless chargers.
Wild Case is currently only available for iPhones.
About Wild Case
Aside from donating 5-10% of every sale to The Ocean Cleanup Foundation, this UK based sustainable phone case brand mails every UK/EU order in a cardboard envelope with a kraft paper package of wildflower seeds.
Protect your phone and plant flowers!
Unfortunately, customs restrictions do not allow them to extend this service to anywhere outside of Europe.
Wilma’s Biodegradable Phone Cases
Wilma’s phone cases are made entirely of corn-based bioplastic that’s certified biodegradable as per European Standards. This means it’ll disintegrate in 12 weeks and fully biodegrade into only carbon dioxide and water within 6 months.
All these cases are bright-colored, bearing a turtle, manta ray, dolphin, sea horse, or whale graphic with the text “Stop Ocean Plastic Pollution”.
If non-decorative is more your style, you can shop their solid-colored Essential Collection. All coloration is from eco-friendly caixia paint that passes SGS non-toxicity tests.
Wilma is based in the largely ocean-surrounded country of Sweden. So, it’s no wonder they care about the state of the world’s oceans and donate $1 of every sale to various ocean conservation projects.
All packaging is plastic-free and is made of recycled cardboard printed with soy ink.
Natural Eco Friendly Phone Cases
4. STUDIO Q
Studio eQ’s Fair Trade Phone Cases
Studio eQ does eco friendly cell phone cases (for iPhones only) a bit differently. Instead of a removable case, they make single-use phone wraps.
These are essentially responsibly sourced real wood veneer sheets that stick to your phone via 3M adhesive backing, so plan on using these for a long time. They aren’t a case to choose on a whim because once they’re on, they’re ON.
While the adhesive won’t leave a sticky residue, it is not biodegradable like the wood itself. However, after removing the case from your phone, you can soak it and scrape off the tape so that you can compost the wood.
Choose between walnut, bamboo, teak, zebrawood, maple, birch, cherry, mahogany, and wenge, depending on how dark you want the wood grain. They also offer custom laser etching if you want a personalized design.
About Studio eQ
All Studio eQ products are made to order right in Venice Beach, California. Aside from 100% Made-in-the-USA fair trade eco friendly phone cases, they also craft wood iPad covers, watches, and even pattern cutout lampshades.
Reveal’s Cork Phone Cases
Reveal makes eco friendly iPhone cases out of bamboo, hardwoods, and cork, which makes for a softer, more supple feel. Reveal calls cork “the new leather” as all their products are vegan and cruelty-free.
Some bear only the classic, all-natural grain look of these materials while others have an artsier twist. Reveal’s Nature Fusion Series takes tree burls and knots and blends them with brightly colored resin swirls.
If you’re looking for an eco friendly dust proof phone case, opt for their folio style cases instead, which have a full flip open screen cover and built-in stand.
Founded by Terry Omata, Reveal makes lots of other eco tech accessories, too, like solar powered speakers (featuring recycled fabric speaker covers), bamboo Bluetooth keyboards, and carbon fiber earbuds.
With their rePlant Program, they plant a tree through American Forests for every product sold from their Nature Tech Collection.
Available: Amazon (US)
6. THE ECO OWL
The Eco Owl’s Bioplastic Phone Cases
Joy’s phone is sporting a compostable case by The Eco Owl, who makes several kinds of biodegradable phone cases, including engraved wooden cases. The bright solid-colored bioplastic cases are made of bamboo fiber and corn plastic.
The MMore Nature Collection is unique in that the cases are made from materials like coffee beans, lavender, skeleton leaves, alpine hay, rose petals, and jasmine blossoms. These materials are preserved in a water-resistant sugar based resin and embedded in a recyclable PU frame. They not only bear the natural texture of the materials but the scent.
That’s right, smell your phone case for that midday caffeine pick-me-up.
Eco Owl sustainable phone cases fit iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, Google Pixel, and Huawei models.
About The Eco Owl
Based in Australia and founded by Jack O’Reilly, The Eco Owl makes all manner of sustainable cases, watches, sunglasses, wallets, handbags, jewelry, and even a few clothing and personal care items.
They work in partnership with a Slovenian manufacturer for the MMore cases. This is mostly due to the proximity to material sources. For instance, the Alpine Hay case is made from Austrian hay which keeps their carbon footprint a bit lower.
For every item sold, they sponsor the cleanup of two pounds of ocean plastic.
7. HEY LOVE BAG
Hey Love Bag’s Eco Friendly Cork Phone Cases
Hey Love Bag makes eco friendly vegan cork phone sleeves with colorful metallic accents and a credit card pocket. A sustainable phone case and wallet in one!
About Hey Love Bag
Hong Kong-based Hey Love Bag is run by designer Alice Chiu, who started this business after quitting her job some years ago. Now, she works full-time hand-making wallets, purses, and more, all out of organic cork felt.
Recycled Phone Cases
8. BAMBOO TRADING COMPANY
Bamboo Trading Company’s Phone Purses
Bamboo Trading Company’s crossbody bags snugly fit smartphones, money and credit cards, and a few essential items. Measuring 5″W x 8″H, they fit most smartphones, except larger models like the iPhone Plus.
These bags are upcycled Huipil – a traditional Guatemalan woven cotton fabric made from pre-existing weavings of bright, colorful fabric. Every design is a bit different. You can choose to receive a surprise design, or you can request pictures of available fabrics.
About Bamboo Trading Company
Based in Florida, Bamboo Trading Company has been making woven and beaded dirty bags, totes, and other colorful accessories for years.
Each different product collection partners with a separate, small artisan manufacturing group to support traditional crafting methods and communities around the world.
The whole Huipil collection stems from ancient Mayan crafting traditions. All Huipil items, like the phone bags, are handwoven on a backstrap loom by Guatemalan women via Project Guatemala. Through this program, these Maya women are paid a fair and steady income through which they are able to support their families.
Part of all sales go directly toward various organizations that provide education, clean water, and healthcare to indigenous Guatemalan communities.
Skate4Create’s Recycled Skateboard Phone Cases
Skate4Create makes sustainable phone cases for Samsung Galaxies and iPhones out of upcycled 7ply Canadian maple skateboard decks. This is combined with a black polycarbonate bumper, which needs to be removed in order to compost the rest.
Even if you’re not a skateboarder, these lovely cases bear unique and colorful stripes and striations amid the natural wood grain. This effect is due to skateboard manufacturers dying each layer of wood a different color.
Shop owner and main creator Dominykas Kelmelis is an avid skateboarder living in Vilnius, Lithuania. He founded this small shop to bring together his passion for skateboarding, recycling, and art. Phone cases aside, he also makes skateboards into jewelry and other accessories.
Dominykas makes everything himself in Vilnius, and sources most materials locally from friends, skate shops, and skate parks. Depending on supply, he’ll branch out to greater Europe.
10. VELO CULTURE
Velo Culture’s Recycled Rubber Phone Cases
Velo Culture’s Soft Cell™ phone sleeves have thousands of 5-star reviews on Etsy, and we can see why. Their design is totally one-of-a-kind, being made from upcycled bicycle inner tubes, all unique because “each puncture tells a story”.
Don’t worry; they’re scrubbed clean with eco cleaner.
The rubber body not only provides lots of natural cushioning but a fair bit of water resistance, too, as tested by cyclists on the rainy roads of England where the cases are made. A good option for outdoor activity lovers.
They also feature a soft lining made from used t-shirts purchased from a charity shop (so the phone can slide in and out with ease), a Velcro closure, a credit card slot, and accent stitching in the thread color of your choice.
About Velo Culture
Velo Culture is a UK based brand that specializes in recycling bicycling (re-bicycling?) bits into wallets, pencil, totes, belts, and jewelry (like earrings made of recycled brake cables).
Shop owner Bev Martin had always been passionate about both accessorizing and cycling, but it took losing her job to give her the push she needed to put the two together. She collects unwanted or broken bicycle parts from other cyclists and bike shops around the UK.
Nimble’s Eco Friendly Recycled Phone Cases
Unfortunately, only available right now for the newest iPhone X and 11 series, Nimble phone cases are fully recycled. Some are made using an incredibly 100% recycled PET plastic bottle base combined with an organic hemp finish to give the case a grippy, fabric texture.
Others are made using recycled CDs! So if you’re wondering what to do with that old Backstreet Boys album, maybe Nimble can turn it into something for good.
You can choose between two designs: their standard solid colors or their bi-color card holder cases, which feature black wave bottom and a deep, rich colored upper accent block. Even the card holder cases are slim but protective.
Other Nimble products include phone charging accessories, made of the same recycled materials as their cases. Even their actual tech is sustainable, with parts made of recyclable aluminum and cornstarch and sugarcane-based bioplastic.
“Designed for good in California” and manufactured in China, Nimble holds a host of certifications that uphold these factories to the highest ethical standards.
They’re a certified B-Corp, a registered Public Benefit Corporation, and a member of 1% for the Planet. Instead of just 1%, they donate 5% of each sale to a different environmental charity, including the Coral Reef Alliance, Seabin Foundation, Wildcoast, Carbon Fund, and Sea Save Foundation.
And since their products use minimal virgin plastic, their packaging is plastic-free, and they ship via UPS from either California or Kentucky.
Their #TechForGood philosophy means “Nimble is committed to not only reducing our environmental impact through smarter production means and materials, but by encouraging the entire Nimble Community to help reduce the amount of eWaste and plastic ending up in our landfills.”
To that end, they offer both a phone case recycling program through Terracycle and a general eWaste recycling program though Homeboy Electronics Recycling, a data secure certified recycling organization. These programs are for ANY brand case or unwanted eWaste, not just Nimble products.
THE CASE FOR GETTING A SUSTAINABLE PHONE CASE
First off, what’s all the buzz about sustainable phone cases? Yes, pun intended. And no, the buzz isn’t your phone vibrating.
The tech industry as a whole has major problems. Our steadily growing consumption is a much larger problem, and it’s high time we call out our tech companies for their flimsy designs and planned obsolescence.
What we need is to adopt a slow tech philosophy, one that prioritizes quality devices built to last (and not just until the next software update). One that emphasizes repairing over replacing, and function over (fast) fashion.
It’s time we stop phoning it in and put some real effort into making our tech consumption more sustainable. The easiest place to start is with accessories.
Even though cell phone companies have all but done away with two-year contracts, the average person still upgrades their cell phone every 22 months. In 2019, we globally purchased over 1.5 billion new phones.
Every upgrade means new accessories like chargers and, for 79% of American cell phone owners (or 186 million people), phone cases. Since we love variety, usually it means two or three phone cases we can change out depending on the day’s mood.
When we upgrade phones, all these primarily plastic cases find their way to landfills, where they take hundreds of years to break down. Even then, they only break down into smaller microplastics that then get washed into the world’s waterways and oceans. These microplastics get consumed by fish, which in turn get consumed by us. [Phone] case in point.
Phone cases may be a tiny step toward making the tech industry more sustainable, but it is a step, nonetheless, which is all sustainable living is… making small steps that collectively add up to great distances.
HOW WE CHOSE THESE SUSTAINABLE PHONE CASE BRANDS
Hey Siri, what makes a phone case sustainable?
Phone cases are a bit like clothing accessories, so it seems appropriate that we judge them with similar criteria as the fashion industry.
Namely, we want to see companies making a sustainable product as well as operating sustainably. And even better if they are attempting to make a positive impact on the world, as well as reducing their negative one.
The most important thing to consider for a phone case is what it’s made with, which determines its end-of-life outcome. The most ideal cases are those which will safely biodegrade and return to the earth in a reasonable amount of time. Most plastic phone cases on the market will take hundreds of years to break down, and even then, they’ll leave plenty of toxic residues.
We broke up our list into three main categories of eco friendly materials for sustainable phone cases.
Short for biodegradable plastics, these are plastic-like cases made from plant-based fibers. The most common types are made from corn starch, wheat, and bamboo. While these break down faster than plastic, they don’t break down as fast as purely natural materials.
Pela has a good quick summary on what you should know about compostable plastics, and it’s important to remember that just because a plastic is compostable doesn’t necessarily mean you can toss it in your backyard bin. Read up on the differences between biodegradable and compostable before buying one of these cases.
This includes a variety of organic materials, all of which are fully compostable, provided they aren’t coated with something toxic or combined with something non-biodegradable. These materials include:
Bamboo has been getting lots of buzz, both positive and negative and many people are asking, “Are bamboo phone cases sustainable?” As with most things made of bamboo, the answer depends. As long as it’s sustainably harvested from well-managed forests that don’t contribute to the endangerment of animals (namely pandas), then yes, the type of bamboo used in phone cases is sustainable.
It doesn’t require toxic plasticizers (as bamboo derived viscose fabrics used in clothing production does) and is a fast-growing, minimally water consumptive crop.
Look for those either sourced from reclaimed lumber, storm-damaged or diseased trees, or that come from responsibly managed forests. A Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) certification can help you pick out these companies.
In case you missed the memo in one of our other articles that touch on cork (like this one on sustainable fabrics or this one about eco friendly sneakers), we’ll quickly remind you why cork is awesome. Not only is it totally compostable, but renewable since cork is harvested by shaving bark from cork trees, a process that can be repeated every decade or so. This process even helps fight climate change because each time the tree has to regrow its bark, it consumes CO2 to do so!
While these are often still plastic, they’re making use of plastic waste already polluting our planet and oceans. They’re making something good out of something bad. We can’t take the plastic back, so we might as well make the damage it’s done a bit more worth it.
Be sure to also pay attention to other components, like bumpers and lining material. Bumpers, for instance, can be made of lots of things like rubber and TPE. If it’s natural rubber, it can be composted, but if not, you’ll still have to disassemble the case. It’s ultimately our responsibility as consumers to ensure safe disposal.
Buying a biodegradable case won’t do much good if we just toss it in the trash anyway. Even the best compostable materials will decompose anaerobically in a landfill (as opposed to the aerobic composting process), which produces just as many greenhouse gases as standard plastics.
What about screen protectors?
If you’re the type of person that manages to drop their phone perfectly face down and shatter their screen even with a case, you might want to double your protection with a screen protector.
Instead of getting a flimsy plastic one (which really only protects against scratches anyway), invest in a tempered glass screen protector. These are far more crack-resistant, and they are fully recyclable.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON SUSTAINABLE PHONE CASES
No one likes replacing their phone. Nor do they like deciphering a text message through a shattered screen. Switching to an eco friendly case will not only save on case waste, but on tech waste too, as they greatly extend the life of your phone (something I found out a little late)!
A win for your wallet and the planet.
We’d like to take a quick moment to point out that if you have a functional phone case, don’t replace it if you don’t need to. Phone cases have become a bit like fashion accessories, so we should exercise a little minimalism and use what we already have. After all, the best sustainable phone cases are those that already exist.
If you’ve tried any of these phone cases, we’re eager to know what you think – how’s their functionality or effectiveness, let us know in the comments.
And if you know someone who has butter fingers, consider sharing this list with them. The longer we can keep our phones alive, the less we’ll be contributing to e-waste.