The 4th of July may be over, but the holiday just marks the beginning of summer. And what better way to enjoy the beautiful weather and wonderful sun than with a trip to the beach? But there’s no reason why a beach getaway should change the green and ethical habits you keep back home. In fact, a weekend by the ocean is the perfect time to appreciate the beauty of nature and learn more about some of the issues endangering it.
Here are some of Autonomie’s top picks for a perfect environmentally friendly and fair trade beach trip:
1. Organic Sunscreen: Excuses can no longer be made for not wearing sunscreen. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the US, and UV rays are posing the highest risk ever recorded. But not all sunscreens are created equal either. Many popular brands use dangerous chemicals and are more often than not completely biodegradable. Soleo sunscreens use all natural, organic ingredients and contain no synthetic preservatives – and, of course, the product line is biodegradable. Protect your skin and the earth at the same time.
2. Hand-Loomed Fair Trade Cover-Up: This beautiful Education and More sarong comes in a summery turquoise color from World of Good. Made by Guatemalan women in a Fair Trade environment, this cover-up helps support the Grupo Artesanias T’zapt – the small group of Mayan women who make these sarongs – as well as helping to allow their children to get a legitimate education. The soft cotton cover-up can also be worn as a shawl on chillier nights by the beach.
3. Hemp Cotton Hat: Earth Divas carries a large selection of beautiful handmade Fair Trade hats, so browse their site to find one that suits you. This is my personal favorite: crocheted with unique detailing and a wire brim for adjustment. Hats are a crucial beach item; not only do they help protect the especially sensitive skin on your face, but they also shield your eyes from the sun. This is definitely an item you can keep wearing long after your tan wears off, too, because this style is not just for the beach.
4. Fair Trade Bikini: There are plenty of Fair Trade and eco-friendly swimsuits out there (check out BTC Elements), but this is my personal favorite. It comes in three beautiful prints with adjustable top and bottom. (The blue is my preference, but I may just have to get one of each.) Act quickly if you’re interested: according to this Etsy seller, there are only five of these swimsuits left!
5. Toy Tool Set and Bucket: Heading to the beach with a little one? Make sure they stay occupied with Down to Earth’s Hungary-made tool set and bucket. Beach toys like this can help inspire sandcastle creativity while supporting Fair Trade workers abroad. With flat-rate shipping, it couldn’t hurt to add this adorable and customizable Adirondack chair for when there’s no more sandcastle real estate available on the beach. Made in the US with Pennsylvania FSC-certified black cherry hardwood, it’s the perfect chair for an eco-friendly kid to recline in.
6. Organic and Fair Trade Beach Towels: Look no further than these beach towels made from certified organic cotton and natural dyes, making them both soft and durable. On top of being sustainable, the towels are made fairly in India. They come in three different fun colors for the beach: lavender, green, and mauve – and they’re on sale now so pick a few up before they’re all gone!
7. Fair Trade Sisal Beach Tote: It’s hard not to love the vibrant, sunset tones of this beach bag. What’s even harder not to love is what your purchase of it will go to: the women of Global Girlfriend who wove this bag in Kenya are supported by Campaign for Female Education micro-grants – micro-grants made possible through your purchases. This tote is the perfect fusion of ethics and style, and a must-have for a beach trip this summer.
8. Fair Trade & Eco-friendly Rubber Flip Flops: I’m not just shamelessly plugging Autonomie’s own flip flops: you and I both know that every beachgoer needs a pair of sandals, whether they’re keeping you from burning your feet in the sand or touching that suspiciously still crab underwater. Our flip flops are made from FSC-certified (certified sustainable), Fair Trade, natural rubber. We carry three colors–black, navy, and fun teal, all of which come with an organic cotton drawstring bag, useful for, say, carrying shells or sea glass. Men’s, women’s and children’s sizes available.
9, 10, & 11. Green Literature: My guess is that if you’ve made it to the end of this list, you’re not the type to get really excited about settling into a beach chair with the Twilight series stacked up next to you. Beach literature definitely has the connotation of being mindless and banal – and for a reason. You absolutely deserve the rest that comes along with a beach vacation. But I like to take advantage of the relaxing time to read some literature that matters to me, and it’s often books that I can’t find time to sneak in during the work week that I gravitate toward. Here are my three picks for must-read green lit:
Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds About Animals and Food by Gene Baur. Receiving a lot of well-deserved publicity from his Just Eats Tour, Baur is quickly becoming one of the most recognizable and inspirational faces of the vegan movement. Founding Farm Sanctuary in 1986, our collaborate for the Superhero Vegan shirt and Eat Grn Veg For Life shirt, Baur began advocating for humane treatment of animals – an issue that actually transcends mistreatment and extends into problems of sustainability, environmental protection, and large corporate monopolies. Whether you’re already a vegan or a vegetarian or if you believe that you’ll never be one, this book will enlighten you about the horrors of the meat industry just as The Jungle did in 1906. Baur is an inspiration, and his novel will undoubtedly change you for the better.
The World Without Us by Alan Weisman. Weisman sparked crucial conversation about the human-Earth relationship when he published this novel in 2008. An almost science fiction take on the influence we have on our planet, he poses the hypothetical question: what would happen to our world if humans one day vanished? Fortunately we survived the threatened rapture of a few weeks ago, but Weisman’s examination – although farfetched – presents an eye-opening and often terrifying look at the various negative (and sometimes positive) impacts that humans have on the Earth.
Global Girlfriends: How One Mom Made it Her Business to Help Women in Poverty Worldwide by Stacey Edgar. The founder of the aforementioned Global Girlfriend did not dream of the company her whole life. Instead, she acted on impulsive ambition and empathy, and showed us that the world would be a better place if we all did so more often. Her novel is not just autobiographical, but also informational: Edgar learned all of the details about the industry and the nature of Fair Trade while on the job. She made mistakes and encountered problems, but her drive and desire to help other women made Global Girlfriend a stunning success.
From all of us at Autonomie Project, enjoy the last few months of summer. Get to the ocean as often as you can, and don’t forget to wear sunscreen! Happy beach-ing.