Spring break is upon us and that means students everywhere are getting ready for a whole week dedicated to rest and recreation. A prime time to relax and recharge, spring break is a great opportunity for people everywhere to step outside and soak up the sunshine we’ve all been deprived of during the cold winter months.
Not sure how to prepare for the spring season? Look no further. In the spirit of Earth Day on April 22, we’ve picked out the best eco-friendly essentials you’ll need to brighten up the spring break holiday.
Research shows that wearing sunscreen daily decreases your risk of skin cancers. It also helps to prevent premature skin aging caused by the sun including wrinkles, sagging and age spots. That’s why it’s more important than ever to apply sunscreen to your skin every two hours daily, and especially during the sunny days of spring break.
However, many sunscreens on the market contain toxic chemicals, such as oxybenzone and octinoxate, that cause hormone disruption and cell damage, which may lead to skin cancer. These chemicals, which are found on the top of the nonprofit Haereticus Environmental Laboratory’s “HEL LIST” of the worst ingredients for wildlife, are also known to cause coral bleaching and coral death.
Unsafe for you and unsafe for the environment, these chemicals make it hard to feel good about lathering up. So, how does one protect one’s skin from the sun’s powerful rays AND protect the ocean’s precious reefs? Check out these excellent eco-friendly sunscreens:
- Great for all skin types, Badger SPF 35 Sport Sunscreen Cream is reef-friendly, biodegradable, cruelty-free, free from anything harsh or artificial and water-resistant for at least 80 minutes.
- Life Basics SPF 30 All Natural Sunscreen is reef-friendly, cruelty-free and vegan. It also contains anti-inflammatory calendula extract, nourishing rosehip oil and green tea antioxidants, all with a calming scent of rose geranium.
As the sun starts to peek out from behind the clouds, you’ll want to make sure your complexion is just as bright and glowy as the spring days ahead. To achieve an effortless sunkissed look, start with a layer of self-tanner. However, before you apply any product to your skin, read the label to make sure your tanning lotion is safe for you and the environment.
Free from synthetic or harmful chemicals, eco-friendly self-tanners work just as well as regular self-tanners without any “bad-for-you” formulas.
Pro tip: keep a lookout for ingredients you recognize and can pronounce easily. Eco-friendly tanning lotions tend to cut out unnecessary ingredients such as sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, octyl stearate, amyl acetate and others.
However, no matter what self-tanner you buy, know that it most likely will contain the color additive dihydroxyacetone (DHA), the active ingredient in most sunless tanning products, according to Mayo Clinic. A chemical derived from sugar, it’s considered to be safe and is approved by the FDA for external application to the human body, which is the way these products are intended to be used.
So if you’re craving a bronze glow this season, skip baking in the sun and opt for one of these self-tanning products that stick to the basics and leave out the bad stuff:
- Eco Tan’s Invisible Tan product contains only organic and natural ingredients and has received glowing reviews in Australia, as well as the title of ‘Best Self Tanner’ in the 2017 Beauty Shortlist Awards.
- Beauty by Earth’s Self Tanner is a top seller on Amazon and provides a natural-looking self-tan with ingredients like organic aloe vera, shea butter, extracts and DHA. It is also vegan and certified cruelty-free!
Spring is the perfect time to refresh your shoe collection and step out in style. This season, make sure your ecological footprint is as small as possible and opt for a pair of sustainable strappy sandals that will look just as good as they feel.
Check out these brands that are making a commitment to sustainability every step of the way:
- Beyond Skin is a luxury vegan footwear brand that is actively working to slow fast fashion by ethically sourcing all of its materials and handcrafting every one of its styles in Spain. Additionally, 5% of their profits are donated to grass-roots environmental and social projects. Check out their Kira Silver Faux Leather Vegan Slingback Heels, their Joey Black Faux Leather Sandals or their Riley Yellow Faux Leather Sandals.
- NAE is a vegan shoe brand that advocates for “No Animal Exploitation” and strives to be an ecological alternative against human exploitation. Check out their Zander Black 3-Strap Vegan Sandal, their Asty Backless Flat Sandal or their Jackie Blue Block Heel Vegan Sandal.
While you may not be spending spring break on an exotic beach this year, that doesn’t mean you won’t be needing a great beach towel. Whether you’re headed to a local pool or just taking a soak in your own bathtub, make sure you’re prepared with an eco-friendly towel that is free of toxic dyes and other chemicals.
Look for brands that have certifications like OEKO-TEX, bluesign and GOTS, which indicate that the materials were grown, processed and dyed in such a way that is harmless to the health of humans and the environment.
Check out these brands that are going above and beyond industry standards to make quality beach towels:
- Evolve towels are made from their unique Ecolite™ fabric, which is lightweight, compact, anti-microbial and sand-resistant. Each towel is made from approximately 20 recycled plastic bottles and 10% of all profits are donated to environmental charities like Panthera, OCEANA and The Rainforest Alliance. Check out their Galapagos, Tenerife or Aegean styles.
- Anaskela towels are made from recycled PET bottles and are super absorbent, quick-drying and sand-free. Incredibly compact and lightweight by design, their towels are the ultimate travel accessory and perfect for on the go. Check out their “Not Another Stripe” Beige Microfibre Towel, their “Geometria” Green Microfibre Towel or their “Under the Palms” BAY Pink Towel.
One of the best ways to protect the environment is to reduce your plastic consumption. In the U.S. alone, 60 million plastic water bottles are thrown away every day, according to The Container Recycling Institute, which end up in landfills, on the street and in our oceans. To decrease your impact, make sure you’re equipped with an eco-friendly, reusable water bottle this spring break.
Check out these reusable water bottles that will help you stay hydrated and the Earth stay healthy:
- Kleen Kanteen is one of the top-rated eco-friendly water bottles out there. A family and employee-owned certified B Corporation, Kleen Kanteen is Climate Neutral certified and is a 1% For The Planet member. Their stainless steel bottles are also BPA-free and dishwasher safe. What’s not to love? Check out their Insulated Classic 20 oz bottle, their Insulated TKWide 16 oz bottle with Twist Cap or their Insulated Reflect 20 oz bottle.
- Soma is also a certified B Corporation and is partnered with Charity: Water to bring safe drinking water to over 663 million people without access to it. Their glass water bottles are BPA-free, made from sustainable materials and come with a lifetime guarantee, just in case your bottle breaks. Check out their 17 oz Sport Bottle, their 25 oz. Glass Water Bottle or their 12 oz Brew Bottle.
As the seasons change, so should our habits. It’s time to commit to the health of our world and invest in quality products that won’t harm the health of our environment. Just remember: this spring break, make Mother Nature proud — and don’t do anything she wouldn’t do.
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Hi, I’m Maria McGinnis, a senior journalism student from Stow, Ohio. I’m also the editor-in-chief of A Magazine. My staff and I are committed to bringing you the most important and entertaining news from the realms of fashion, beauty, and culture. We are full-time students and hard-working journalists. While we get support from the student media fee and earned revenue such as advertising, both of those continue to decline. Your generous gift of any amount will help enhance our student experience as we grow into working professionals. Please go here to donate to A Magazine.