My track record with phones is faultless. Never lost one. Never broke one. So phone cases have never really been on my radar.
That was, however, until my eldest daughter was old enough to have her own phone. As a keen skateboarder and surfer, she has damaged her fair share, and my fair share too!
Needlessly replacing damaged phones is not an eco-friendly habit. Having a protective case can help prevent damage from dropping or submission in water.
The average consumer will keep their phone for a little over three years before getting a new one.
A standard plastic phone case will take hundreds of years to decompose and is made from non-renewable natural resources.
So, when you think about it, it’s madness to protect a product that will last three years in something that wastes precious resources and will sit in landfill for centuries!
Plastic sucks! Check out these 23 shocking plastic stats if you still need to know why.
So as responsible cell phone users, we should be looking to buy phone cases made from sustainable or recycled materials.
Models: iPhone 12 Pro Max, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone SE (2020), iPhone 11 Pro Max, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11, iPhone XR, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XS, iPhone X, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 8, iPhone 6/6s, iPhone 5/5s and SE (2016), Samsung Galaxy S21+, Samsung Galaxy S21, Samsung Galaxy A52 5G, Samsung Galaxy A42 5G, Samsung Galaxy S20 FE, Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, Samsung Galaxy S20+, Samsung Galaxy S20, Samsung Galaxy S10, Samsung Galaxy S10+, Samsung Galaxy S10e, Samsung Galaxy S9, Samsung Galaxy S8, Google Pixel 5, Google Pixel 4a (5G), Google Pixel 4a, Google Pixel 4, Google Pixel 4XL, Google Pixel 3a, Google Pixel 3, Google Pixel 3XL, Google Pixel 2XL, Huawei P50 Pro, Huawei P50, OnePlus 9.
They Say: The phone industry has a HUGE problem. Greedy companies use cheap, polluting plastics for their phone cases. We decided that you and our planet deserve better so we created the World’s first compostable phone case. Yeah, our cases protect your phone. But check these facts out for how they are even better. 30% less carbon emissions. 34% less water usage. 80% less waste production.
We Say: Pela Case is the biggest name in eco-friendly phone cases and, when you start to dig, you can see why.
It all started when they launched the world’s first biodegradable phone cases after founder, Jeremy Lang, had a run-in with plastic waste on holiday in 2008.
In his own words:
"I started Pela when my son Cole dug up some plastic on the beach in Hawaii and I started wondering about the impact of plastics on our planet.
Our mission to make sustainable products the new normal starts with a product that you hold everyday. Phone cases help to protect your investment (phones are expensive!) but they shouldn't be just another plastic product made with materials that could carry toxins into your home.
Our cases are tested to be free of BPA, lead, cadmium and phthalates. If we can make products at a higher standard to keep our family and planet safe, shouldn't we?
I just want to make sure that I do my best to protect the planet (our home) for my children and their children and the future generations to come!"
The primary material used to make a Pela Case is something they like to call Flaxstic, a mixture of flax straw waste, plant-based biopolymers, and other sustainable materials.
You can watch how a Pela Case is made below.
All Pela Case products are free from BPA, phthalates, and heavy metals.
The cases are certified biodegradable to U.S. standards and take between six months and two years to break down entirely.
Pela does all it can to keep its supply chain as local as possible. Still, they outsource some operations to ethically managed third parties paying fair wages and offering safe working conditions.
Pela customers have so far prevented 48,433,866 plastic bags from entering our oceans. If you doubt just how bad plastic bags are for the environment, you need to read this.
Pela offset their entire company carbon footprint and is Climate Neutral Certified. This is done by purchasing verified carbon credits.
They’re also a member of the 1% for the Planet scheme. This means Pela gives back by donating 1% of their sales to clean ocean initiatives such as Surfrider, Save the Waves, and Oceana.
Some incredible eco-credentials I’m sure you’ll agree...but is a Pela phone case really any good?
Well. Yes. They most definitely are!
As mentioned earlier, before embarking on this review process, phone cases had never really registered on my radar.
Now, after testing more cases than I care to remember, I can safely say that Pela Case is the best biodegradable phone case brand I have tested.
The slimline and flexible design is incredibly shock absorbent, and the grip level is excellent.
An incredible product from a company making a fundamental change in the marketplace. A no-brainer as the overall winner, right?
Well, yes...but it wasn’t quite as simple as that.
There was a third area that I needed to consider; model availability.
There would have been little point in choosing an overall winner that only fitted one model of phone.
This is another area where Pela Case excels. They have phone covers to fit a wide range of models. Both iPhone and Android.
The range of products available extends past eco-friendly phone cases. You can also get AirPods cases, smartwatch bands, and other accessories.
Scroll down to read about the other ten eco-friendly cases I recommend from the 30+ that I tested.
However, before I reveal the long list of recommendations, I thought it might be helpful to go through some of the innovative materials used in modern eco-friendly phone cases.
Biodegradable plastics (bioplastics for short) are created when plant-based fibers and used to form a plastic-like substance that is then molded into eco-friendly phone cases. The most common types of fibers used are flax, corn starch, wheat, and bamboo.
On the face of it, using purely natural materials is a great way to make your phone case eco-friendly.
That is, of course, providing that the natural material has not been coated in plastic, or a similarly toxic substance, to prolong its lifespan.
Natural materials finding their way into eco-friendly phone cases include:
Bamboo phone cases are rising in popularity and are a sustainable option, providing that the bamboo comes from a certified and well-managed source.
Bamboo is fast-growing and needs little water.
Hardwood cases are another excellent option when shopping for an eco-friendly phone case.
They’re particularly popular with those who wish to personalize their eco-friendly phone case due to the ability to laser-etch bespoke designs and even photos directly onto the case.
The shock-absorbing properties of wooden cases can be a bit hit and miss. Some wooden phone cases protect cell phones well, but some will split when dropped from a significant height.
Always lookout for the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) certification when shopping for hardwood eco-friendly phone cases.
Cork is a fully sustainable natural resource because it’s harvested by shaving bark from a cork tree. You can do this approximately once every ten years when the bark has fully grown back.
Cork is also naturally shock absorbent and 100% compostable.
Using recycled materials, such as plastic, in phone cases is a good way to use something bad.
Sure, in an ideal world, we would not have produced the plastic in the first place.
However, now that the non-renewable resources have been used to make the plastic, we might as well get as much use out of it as we can.
In addition to the overall winner, I’ve listed my top recommendations in several different categories.
They Say: Our plastic-free Wilma cases are biodegradable according to European standard EN 13432 and can completely decompose into carbon dioxide and water without leaving any toxic residue. The sustainable production of the Wilma case means that when upgrading your device, the disposal of the case does not damage our planet.
Wilma also gives $1 for Save the Ocean projects per case sold. The packaging of the Wilma case is also made from recycled cardboard and is printed with soy based paint. Wilma's cases proudly combine fashion and sustainability. Wilma cases offer amazing protection from drops and scratches as well as natural shock absorption that is as good as plastic alternatives.
We Say: Wilma phone cases are made from certified biodegradable corn-based bioplastic. When it reaches the end of its usable life, it will biodegrade into carbon dioxide and water. A process that takes approximately six months.
Wilma is a Sweden-based company that clearly cares about the state of our oceans.
I love the marine-inspired designs on the back of these phone cases.
If you don’t want a whale or a seahorse on the back of your biodegradable phone case, there are also non-decorative options available.
Every color option uses eco-friendly paint that passes all relevant non-toxicity tests.
They Say: Biodegradable phone case series, OUTBACK puts tough, responsible protection at the forefront with cases that are 100% compostable. Rugged military drop-tested protection you can count on to protect your device.
We’ve created a product that has value beyond protection with the dual-benefit of being biodegradable and compostable. In an effort to go further, we’ve improved our Outback Series packaging using zero plastic and 100% recyclable materials.
We Say: The Outback Series from Urban Armor Gear is a classy-looking case with understated styling.
What it lacks in ‘bling’, it more than makes up for in performance and eco-friendliness.
The grip levels are slightly lower than some of the other cases I tested, but this was not an issue for me. There was still plenty of grip. It’s certainly not a slippy case. Besides, even if it does slip out of your hand, your phone will be absolutely fine with military drop-tested protection.
This is both a compostable phone case and a biodegradable phones case. Best of both worlds. Providing you dispose of it correctly of course.
They Say: Organicore – Protect the planet and your phone. We’ve improved our plant-based Organicore Collection by adding Impact Struts Technology to create a case that delivers 8 ft. of drop protection. Organicore delivers 25% better protection than before while only leaving the good stuff behind.
We Say: This is another minimalistic, understated design that I liked (don’t worry if you’re a fan of more decorative designs, I’ve got you covered further down the page).
Saying that, though, there is a decent range of colors available in the Organicore range. I went for the deep pine green.
All Oranicore phone cases come with a lifetime warranty, and there is free shipping on all U.S orders.
Organicore has partnered with Eden Reforestation Projects to plant one tree for every case sold.
The protection offered by this case is impressive. Impact Struts Technology means that your phone will be protected even when dropped from a height of 8ft.
The Organicore range is certified to meet or exceed global testing standards ASTM D6400 and EN13432. As a home composter, this is a great selling point for me.
They Say: This recycled skateboard phone case is the perfect way to show your love for skateboarding, eco, and art. The case is a great gift for the skateboarder, friends, or family. A phone case is made 100% from recycled skateboards and polycarbonate cases.
Each phone case is made from 8 to 9 different colors of recycled skateboards which are glued together to make a continuous colorful pattern. The shell is made from 1.3 mm flexible rubber. It's slim and protects from bumps and tumbles. The case also includes face-down protection and covered buttons.
We Say: My eldest daughter (yes, the one who keeps breaking her phones!) put me onto Skate4Create.
Skate4Create products are handmade in Lithuania using recycled skateboards.
They ship for free worldwide and offer free returns.
Delivery did take a long time but, even as a man of a certain age, I have to say...it’s a very cool product!
The case is made from recycled 7ply Canadian maple skateboard decks, surrounded by a black polycarbonate bumper for protection. The bumper will need to be removed when the case reaches the end of its life to dispose of it responsibly.
Dominykas, the creative brains behind Skate4Create, does not just do phone cases. A wide range of other fantastic products is available (cufflinks, necklaces, charging stations, etc.).
They Say: Compact Discs are mostly made of polycarbonate - a highly durable & recyclable plastic. Using specialized methods, discs are cleaned & compounded into new, high-grade material. Ideal for new products. Designed and tested to withstand everyday drops and bumps. The impact-absorbing outer band and raised front lip not only ensures your phone’s safety, but adds extra grip to help avoid drops before they happen.
We Say: I wasn’t sure about including this case on the list due to it only being available for the latest iPhone models. Then a wave of nostalgia washed over me (I used to own mountains of CDs and always wondered what happened to my Celine Dion Greatest Hits that I sent away for recycling years ago!) and it made the cut.
To be fair to Nimble, even without the nostalgia, the Disc Case is pretty impressive.
The clear design appeals to my taste, and the grip level is surprisingly good for a product that looks slippy.
The Nimble Disc Case is certified to protect your phone from drops of up to 6ft.
Hygiene has also been considered when designing this case. A permanent anti-bacteria, scratch-resistant, and anti-yellowing coating is used.
I love the fact that every case is sent with a free return label for you to return any old plastic cases for safe and responsible recycling. In return, Nimble will send you a 15% off voucher. A win for the plant and your wallet. NICE!
Nimble as a company is also spot on when it comes to eco-credentials. They’re a CarbonFree partner, Climate Neutral Certified, use SCS Global certified recycled content, a B Corp, and a 1% For The Planet member.
They Say: The Soft Cell is Velo Cultures uniquely designed smartphone case. These inner tube cases are lined with upcycled cotton so that your screen has a smooth surface next to it, and your phone slides in and out easily.
They have a built in Velcro flap to ensure that your phone is enclosed and protected whether it is in your bag, coat or the rear pocket of your cycling jersey. A slot on the rear of the case allows you to pop a credit card or a folded bill/note too.
We Say: As a keen cyclist, I simply had to include this neat offering from Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom.
Old bicycle inner tubes are scrubbed clean and then cleverly used to make unique phone cases. It’s actually more of an eco-friendly phone sleeve than a phone case.
The rubber’s natural properties mean that this case offers a decent level of drop protection and waterproofing.
Five color options are available (black, blue, green, pink, red).
Shipping to the U.S. costs $5.74 and takes between 10 and 25 days from the point of ordering.
They Say: We make eco-friendly, luxury tech accessories. REVEAL is not just about iPad folios, iPhone cases and audio accessories, although we do make pretty sweet ones. We love design and manufacturing techniques that help the mobile generation to connect, with the least impact on the planet. We REVEAL nature’s renewable gifts of bamboo, cork, wood and innovative recycled fabrics made from post-consumer plastic bottles to create beautiful, functional tech accessories.
We Say: There is something pleasingly tactile about using eco-friendly natural wood and bamboo products to cover modern tech.
Reveal is doing some really cool things with wood, cork, bamboo...and even carbon fiber!
I particularly like the Japanese Ocean Sunset Print cork phone case. I know. Pretty jazzy for me, right?
As well as designing cool eco-friendly iPhone cases, Reveal are also committed to reducing their carbon footprint as much as possible. They donate to select non-profits ($110,000+ donated so far) and plant a tree for every product sold.
They Say: The Japanese expression "Wabi-sabi" sums up the wonder of bamboo and what we do. It means, there is beauty in imperfection. We love that each bamboo has its unique coloration, grain, and flow and we value the opportunity to connect with nature with these small treasures. It's the perfect Yin to your iPhone Yang. :-)
We Say: iMakeThatCase specializes in sustainable bamboo phone cases for a range of iPhone models.
There are tons of predesigned options available, but the really cool thing here is that you can request a fully personalized bamboo phone case with your choice of words, graphics, and logos.
The grip, durability, and sustainability of this range of bamboo cases are excellent. However, as with most wooden phone cases, the shock absorption is not great.
They Say: Our mission is to bring you closer to nature in your busy everyday life. With the touch and scent of nature in the palm of your hands. Because you deserve more, much more, MMORE. All materials are organic and handpicked, and the wood is FSC certified. Your case comes without any unnecessary plastic packaging. Everything you receive is recyclable.
We Say: If you’re looking to express your personality through your phone case choice while still being eco-friendly, the Wood Collection from MMORE Cases has you covered.
Each case is handmade and unique due to the natural variations in wood grains and patterns.
There are some awesome designs available. The Mandalorian case is particularly cool!
MMORE has a ‘Buy One. Plant One.’ scheme that plants a tree for every case sold.
Free shipping is available. All cases are shipped in 'zero waste' and 'zero impact' plastic-free packaging.
The cases are edged with recycled TPU. This will need to be removed and recycled before the case can be composted or biodegraded.
In addition to the Wood Collection, MMORE also offers biodegradable, organic, and personalized options. The entire range is definitely worth a look.
They Say: Each piece in our Huipil collection is upcycled from a huipil, a traditional Guatemalan textile. Huipil have been worn by Maya women for generations. Woven by hand using a traditional backstrap loom, the designs woven into each huipil represent the personality and the marital, social and religious status of the women who wear them. Each piece is unique and shares the culture, stories and traditions of these beautiful women. A portion of the proceeds is donated to organizations that support and empower women and children in Guatemala.
We Say: Ok. So this MIGHT be a category squeezed in to keep Mrs. M happy. However, this does not take away from the fact that Bamboo Trading Company makes some charming products that do some serious good globally.
Mrs. M adores her Everything Is Blooming Phone Purse.
The purse has a cotton lining and a tasselled zipper to keep your phone safe and secure.
It’s 5” wide and 8” high, so big enough to accommodate most phone models.
This is not a phone case as such, so it does not offer much in terms of drop or water protection.
Through their ‘Give Back Program’, Bamboo Trading Company provides clean drinking water to rural communities in Guatemala. Since 2016 they've donated 133 water purifiers.
The company is based in Florida. The products are made by a small team of artisan producers (Flavio in Antigua, Jesus in Panajachel Sololá, Juan Jose, Nelly in Antigua, and Miguel).
They Say: Get inspired everyday when you use your phone with a print of a destination that you’ve visited or you aspire to go to someday. Authentic local art featuring unique designs of remarkable Australian destinations that are captured by us on our travels. No stock photography used.
We Say: Mrs. M loves this range of phone cases. They remind her of the four months she spent backpacking in Australia after college.
The quality of the pictures used is excellent, and the protection offered is top-notch.
These phone cases ship from Australia, but I’m happy to recommend them (as well as Mikkoa yoga mats and water bottles) because they help offset manufacturing and shipping pollution by planting one tree for every order.
That depends on the type of screen protector you go for. One made from single-use plastic is definitely not eco-friendly. Instead, consider buying one made from sustainably produced toughened glass.
Not only is it better for the planet, but it will also do a better job protecting your phone. Alternatively, if you really want to protect your screen AND the planet, take a look at this clever liquid screen protector from Pela.
There is no reason why you can't protect the planet and your phone at the same time. Most of the eco-friendly phone cases (if not all) I’ve recommended in this article are vegan because no animal products are used in their production.
No, I don't believe so at all. I’ve dug into the Pela greenwashing allegations and firmly believe that pela is not greenwashing their products.
PopSockets are a device that is attached to the back of your phone case to help alleviate the stress from your fingers when using your phone.
I don’t spend long enough on my phone daily to need a PopSocket. The three leading women in my life swear by them and experience no finger pain.
Yes. A Popsocket will stick to eco-friendly phone cases made by Pela Case. The troubles start when you try to attach them to leather, silicone, or waterproof phone cases.
According to the official PopSocket help pages, there are three steps to making it sticky again:
Biodegradable phone cases will break down entirely in a commercial facility. Compostable phone cases will break down entirely on a residential compost heap.
Our overall winner, Pela, has an informative article here explaining Bioplastic and the difference between a biodegradable phone case and a compostable phone case.
I’ve tried to account for all tastes when choosing my best eco-friendly phone case recommendations.
It might be a bit of a clique...but the Pela Case range is the original and the best in my eyes. It offers excellent all-around phone protection for a wide range of phones while treading very lightly on the planet. Awesome stuff!
However, if you don't necessarily need complete drop protection like me, you might want to consider a wooden phone case.
Whatever option you go for, be sure to pay close attention to components such as bumpers and lining material that might need removing from the phone case before recycling or composting.
What we do at the end of the life of our phone case is very important.
For example, buying a biodegradable case means nothing if we mindlessly toss it in the trash when we no longer need it. It won't biodegrade appropriately in a trash bag on a landfill pile!
All this said, the most sustainable phone case is the one you already have. If your current phone case is in decent shape, then maybe stick with it until it falls apart or until your phone needs upgrading.
Phone cases may be tiny in the grand scheme of saving the planet. However, any small steps we can take to help the tech industry become more sustainable are still steps in the right direction. If we all start taking small steps today, they’ll add up to great distances in no time at all!