What's In My Eco-Friendly Beach Bag

Although I tend to call it my beach bag, let's face it, my bag doesn't see the beach very often. Somehow, "pool bag" doesn't have quite the same ring, so I just go with it.

This summer, I'm trying to get out and enjoy the water as much as I can, even if I can't get to a beach anytime soon. (Fingers crossed for a trip back to Hawaii later this year!) So, I'm pretty much left with the pool at my gym and at a friend's house.

I love my gym, although it's not exactly an eco-friendly haven, with the mountains of Styrofoam cups for water, the surely massive utility bill, and the giant chlorine pools, but it is a space where I can be an eco-friendly, waste-free individual, and hopefully an example to others.

Every time I go to the pool for a little sun or just to cool off in the water, I make sure to pack an eco-friendly beach bag. Pool bag. Bag of crap. Whatever we want to call it.

This bag pictured here is actually woven out of recycled plastic shopping bags, and was a gift from when my parents went to Disney World without me. Made by Proyecto Titi, it's the perfect size to carry my things for a quick trip, and it's durable around the water.

In my bag are my staple items: a beach towel, body and face sunscreen, my sunglasses, and a lot of water. If I'm heading out for a trip by myself, I've also got earbuds to listen to music, and sometimes a library book.

For this past weekend's pool party, I threw in one of my reusable straws, just in case, but ended up not needing it.

My facial sunscreen is from last year and ranks as a 2 on the EWG Skin Deep scale. My body sunscreen is new, smells amazing, and ranks as a 3 on the scale. Not the absolute cleanest and safest for my body and health, but better than my older sunscreens!

EWG ranks thousands of skincare, makeup, and sunscreen products by evaluating each listed ingredient, and marking what is unsafe about any of them (usually allergy concerns, potential to cause cancer, and developmental/reproductive toxicity). As I run out of products, I use EWG to help find better alternatives.

My trusty 32oz water bottle helps me rep TECHE Project, especially when I know I have a full day of sun ahead of me. Sometimes I'll bring my insulated Klean Kanteen or S'well bottle, but they don't hold as much. I always keep my bag under my lounger so my water stays out of the direct sunlight, whether it's in plastic or stainless steel.

One area I can go greener in is investing in an organic or recycled cotton beach towel. All of the ones we have are conventional cotton, but since they are still functional, I'm not getting rid of them just yet.

My other, larger beach bag is actually handmade out of an older scarf - handmade by me! I featured the process in a blog post a couple years back, and I'm actually excited that it's become a bag I use regularly, and not just one that sits in my closet. (It's also served as my yoga clothes bag.)

Carrying my larger beach bag is handy when I have a change of clothes or more than one towel to tote.

A few other ways I went greener at the pool party last weekend were to bring extra cloth shopping bags, which helped us carry the food we brought (marinated pork chops in a reusable Rubbermaid container instead of a Ziploc bag), and helped us carry things back home.

When lunchtime rolled around, I skipped the paper plates and used a regular plate, and would have washed it, but the guys took care of that for me!

Making sure to stay hydrated, I stuck with a few of my favorite French sodas, and brought the cans home for recycling. (I have definitely found a new addiction, by the way.)

Another way to green your trip to the pool or beach is to pack snacks in reusable containers. You'll save on unnecessary waste, which can be hard to throw away if there aren't many trash cans around, and you can avoid bringing it home to dispose of properly. Plus, reusable containers help protect food from getting crushed or spilled on.

One of my favorite things about this summer is getting to wear swimsuits made of recycled nylon. I plan to do a more in-depth post this summer on eco-friendly swimwear, with a roundup of brands, and possibly a story of how I made planning for our Hawaii honeymoon more difficult than it needed to be!

This suit is from Vitamin A Swim, and the bottoms are made of recycled nylon, which Vitamin A calls their EcoLux fabric, while the top is still a conventional nylon (I've been eyeing a high neck halter since last summer so I had to treat myself.)

Are you planning a beach trip this year? 1. Take me with you. 2. Think about how you can make your beach bag a little more waste free! 3. As always, ask me questions if you're curious about making a green switch.

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