Sustainable accommodations for greener travel

Sustainable accommodations for greener travel

Sustainable accommodations for greener travel

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Did you know that there are many accommodations that try to contribute to a green planet, by using green initiatives? Think of water-saving showers, solar panels or the use of sustainable products such as recycled toilet paper. Choosing a sustainable accommodation, compensates a little for your (flight) journey to your vacation destination. But how do you find such sustainable accommodation?

What is sustainable accommodation?

First, let’s dive deeper into the concept of sustainable accommodation. To be honest, there is no basic definition, nor are there any rules for what a sustainable accommodation should meet. Too bad because that makes it harder to find.

For example, I once came across a hotel that said they were taking sustainable steps, but when I went to check it out, I only found that they offered bicycles. It was a spa hotel in the middle of the mountains, a super popular hike destination where cars were hardly allowed. Bit of a lame initiative and pretty unfair to label it as sustainable. I don’t think renting out bikes really compensates for the amount of energy a sauna consumes.

So, what is sustainable?

Sustainability has many definitions, and I am usually a big supporter of small initiatives. For example, many hotels these days have a card hanging in the bathroom that only towels left on the floor will be washed, thus reducing the amount of laundry. And more and more hotels have a soap dispenser in the shower instead of those little disposable plastic bottles of shampoo.

Small initiatives, but certainly in large hotels these can make a big difference. One less wash per day saves a lot of energy and water. And those little shampoo bottles are all thrown away after one use. Think of all the plastic waste!

And there are many other small sustainable initiatives, such as recycled toilet paper or digital invoices. I once saw a hostel offering the possibility to borrow shopping bags or exchange clothes.

Big sustainable initiatives

But of course, they can take much bigger steps. Think of lamps that automatically switch off in the hallway, a revolving door that automatically stops turning, solar panels on the roof, rainwater as toilet water, individual air conditioners instead of an always-on system throughout the hotel and only cook with seasonal products or even better: their own vegetable garden and chickens.

In fact, these are truly sustainable accommodations, but there is certainly something to be said for the small initiatives as well. Some large initiatives also come with a hefty price tag, such as solar panels. Especially small accommodations do not always have the budget for that.

How to find sustainable accommodation?

Finding sustainable accommodations can be a challenge. Despite the fact that more and more people are looking for sustainable options, there are actually few places where you can easily find it. Still, there are some websites you can check out.

Ecolabels tourism sector

There are several eco-labels for the tourism sector that you can consult. Unfortunately, as with any sustainable label, it is difficult to keep track of which labels hold which qualifications. Of course, you can read about this on the hotel websites themselves, but there are quite a few. Moreover, the company itself must submit an application and there are also costs involved. Many companies choose only one label or skip it altogether. Nevertheless, there are some that are worth remembering:

  • Greenkey, check out their map to see which hotels, campgrounds and small accommodations have received the label.
  • Bio hotels places a strong emphasis on organic, sustainable and local products. Both for the food and drink in the hotel and non-food, such as soaps, towels and toilet paper.
  • NOCO2 is a label for companies that are completely carbon neutral, which means that they not only reduce their emissions but also compensate them, for example by planting trees.
  • The international eco-certification program is for accommodations that are located in nature and do their best to make as little impact as possible, or even take extra steps to teach guests more about nature. Think of offering educational excursions or hiking tours with information posts.
  • The Green Globe certificate is another good indicator. The companies on it are re-inspected twice a year, so you can be sure that everything is alright.

And a whole lot more. For a complete list of eco-labels, you can look at the eco-label index. There you will also find, for example, labels for specific locations, such as the Czech Republic, Luxembourg or Malta. But also for the most ecological beaches or specifically for restaurants.

Websites for sustainable accommodations

There are also a lot of websites specifically for sustainable accommodations. That saves a lot of research. However, not all accommodations are listed on all these websites. Again, there are often strict requirements that a sustainable accommodation must meet, so the hotels that do their best, often fall short. But it is definitely a good place to make sure that your hotel, hostel, B&B or vacation home is sustainable.

Some examples:

  • Natuurhuisje is an ideal website for nature lovers. As the name suggests, you can find cottages in the middle of nature. You have to search which accommodations also take sustainable steps, but at least €1 of your booking goes to organizations for nature conservation, such as the Forestry Commission and the Bird Protection Society. You can find cottages throughout Europe.
  • At Bookdifferent, the eco initiative of Booking, you can see how much CO2 an accommodation emits and thus make a conscious choice. Also here you support a charity with your booking.
  • Ecobnb is the sustainable counterpart to Airbnb. Here you can find everything from B&B’s to tree houses, all with a sustainable approach.
  • Eco Hotels is one of the biggest websites in sustainable accommodations. Aside from offering sustainable options, they also plant a tree for every booking!
  • Bookitgreen offers sustainable accommodations in Europe and offers you the option to choose between accommodations in nature or mountains, near water or in the city.

And there are many more and more to come. Sustainable travel is becoming increasingly popular, and you can tell by the range of products on offer.

This website

Of course, I’m also here to help you make your trip more sustainable! This is only an introductory article for a whole series of articles on sustainable accommodations. I will definitely try out a lot of nice places myself during my own travels, and share my experiences with you. But expect more tips & tricks on what to look for when choosing sustainable accommodation.

Do you already have questions? Then let me know below or send me an email or message via social media. Maybe I can help you right away and maybe you’ll inspire me for my next blog article 😊

What are good sustainable brands?

What are good sustainable brands?

What are good sustainable brands?

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You know that issue, you’d like to make better and sustainable choices in the brands you buy, but every time you think you’ve found a good brand, you hear bad things about it again. If you don’t have that problem, please tell me your secret. But this definitely happens to me. A sustainable brand turns out to be not as sustainable after all and I have to start over. So, I started testing different sustainable brands some time ago and I will make it easy on you by posting monthly blogs about a nice sustainable brand.

A European wide ecolabel

Obviously, it would be easiest if brands were forced to be transparent about the harmfulness of their product. A bit like an energy label, but for sustainability. A general, European label, instead of all the different labels that have their own definitions.

Well, a group of Belgian students thought so too. They started a petition to make this happen. Better transparency for all European brands. Do you need this too? Sign the petition. Or have a look at the website of European Eco score for more information.

Definition sustainable brand

The requirements you can set for a sustainable brand are quite broad. You can demand that it is completely CO2 neutral, that the packaging is as sustainable as possible, as well as the product itself. But it could also be a brand that goes the extra mile for a better environment. We all have to start somewhere, and I don’t think we should judge brands that are improving but haven’t yet reached their real goal.

Over the past few years, I’ve seen brands grow from companies taking small steps towards a greener future to companies that rigorously turn things around and have a whole sustainable strategy to show for it. In my articles, I will explain to what extent a product is sustainable. From the small steps to all the efforts they can make to make the world a little better.

Is it ethical?

What I personally often see is that a brand tries to be more sustainable, but doesn’t seem to care about the working conditions. You can use organic cotton for your products, but if your factory workers then work in a heavily polluting factory, where they themselves also get physical complaints, you keep up appearances as far as I’m concerned. Experts agree with me in this respect and accuse such companies of “greenwashing”. I will get back to what exactly greenwashing is, but think of airlines that claim to compensate their flights by planting a few trees. And then let empty flights take-off during corona in order not to lose A location on the airport. Yes, nicely done!

Is it vegan?

Vegan and sustainable go hand in hand. Animal ingredients are found in many products. You may not want to know this, but gelatine, for example, is usually made from leftover pig bones and the shiny layer on your M&Ms is from the skin of beetles. Tasty, isn’t it? But not very sustainable either. Livestock causes a lot of emissions and the use of certain animals and insects can affect our ecosystem. Not always, but sometimes it does.

I also notice that many people who value sustainable choices, also value animal welfare and vegan products. So, I will also indicate whether the products are vegan and if not, and explain what animal ingredients are used.

Which products will be addressed? 

Because this is a travel blog, the products will mainly be products that you can use during your travels. Think of soaps and hiking boots made from coffee grounds. And also sustainable backpacks, clothing, water bottles and other products that can’t be missed during your travels.

Share your requests

Have you been looking for an alternative to your favourite brand for a long time, but you can’t find it? Then be sure to leave a comment below this article or send me a message on Instagram. I will then look for a good alternative for you.

How do I reduce my plastic use?

How do I reduce my plastic use?

How do I reduce my plastic use?

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It is hard to imagine our daily lives without plastic. Without realizing it, you use a lot of it. Unless you start paying attention and start reducing your use of plastic. Why is this important? Because plastic is extremely bad for the environment. I’m going to explain everything you need to know about plastic here and give you tips on how to reduce your own plastic consumption at the end.

Why do we use this much plastic?

Plastic is an incredibly sturdy material that is very light and long-lasting. It is easy to deform when hot, making it easy to create all kinds of shapes. These properties are very useful for car parts, for example. It does not burn when overheated and is therefore much lighter and easier to shape than metal, for example.

The only thing that had not been taken into account was that the fact that it lasts so long also means that it will be lying around for a long time when we are no longer using it. Plastic might be handy for that car, where it will last for years and thus be put to good use. And a plastic straw seems much more convenient than those paper alternatives that get wet and soggy after a minute and are impossible to drink through. But when you finish your cocktail, where do you think your plastic straw ends up? Exactly, into the ocean, where our marine animals choke on it. Plastic is very difficult to recycle, so most of it ends up floating around for years.

What are plastic alternatives?

Fortunately, many alternatives to plastic have come onto the market in recent years. Plastic that is recyclable is being made into clothing, shoes, bags, toys, lampshades and even cycle paths. The plastic is there, so we’d better do something useful with it until it decomposes. But that can take thousands of years. Even better are other products that are less harmful to the environment.

  • Glass lasts a very long time, as long as you don’t break it. Glass jars have been used in the kitchen to store food for generations. Whether you put dry pasta, herbs or home-made jam or pesto in them, a tightly sealed glass jar will keep for a long time and you can reuse it.
  • Stainless steel is used as an alternative to plastic straws, but also for a thermos flask or travel coffee mug, for example.
  • Silicone is very similar to plastic, but very flexible. There are refillable travel bottles made of silicone that are easy to fill and rinse. Silicone covers are also a sustainable option as an alternative to plastic film.
  • Bamboo is a popular alternative to plastic, for example bamboo cutlery, bamboo straws, bamboo hairbrushes, bamboo sunglasses and bamboo toothbrushes. The type of bamboo used can grow up to a metre a day, so there is a lot of it.
  • Paper and cardboard are also used more often as packaging instead of plastic bags. When it comes to dry products, this is an excellent alternative that breaks down much more quickly. Please note that some packaging still contains a layer of plastic, for example a coffee cup. Otherwise it would leak. But also paper bags at the nut or fish stall often have a plastic inside to keep the products dry.

Microplastics in products

In addition to plastic packaging, there may also be plastic in your products themselves. These are called microplastics and are very small particles of plastic that you often do not even see. An example where you can see them is in a scrub. The scrub granules are often made of plastic. These microplastics end up everywhere. You flush them down the shower or the sink and they end up in the ocean, but also in our food. They end up in our water, which the farmer then uses to spray the heads that you then get back on your plate. It is estimated that we eat around 50,000 mini pieces of plastic every year. These microplastics end up in our intestines, where they cannot be digested. In animals, plastic stays behind in the intestines, so the intestines slowly fill up with plastic to the point that no more food can fit in and they starve. In a recent study by Arizona State University (March 2022), microplastics were detected in the blood of 80% of the test subjects. It is not yet known what the consequences might be, but I’d rather not have them.

How to recognize microplastics in products?

It is not (yet) compulsory for cosmetic companies to state that a product contains microplastics. So it is difficult to be really sure. There are 3 ways to reduce the risk, by looking at the labels or by looking at the ingredients and checking for known microplastics. The disadvantage of the second option is that not all names are known, so it is impossible to say with certainty whether a product is free of microplastics. The third option is to use an app to scan products for microplastics. Here too, there is no guarantee, as the makers of these apps do not always know whether a product contains microplastics. However, it does enable you to find out which products have been approved.

One example of such an app is Beat the microbead by Plastic soup foundation .

Labels for products without microplastics

  • The European eco-label
  • Demeter label
  • Nordic Swan label
  • Cosmos organic
  • Natrue
  • Zero plastics inside

Ingredients known to be microplastics

  • Dimethicone
  • Triacontanyl pvp (possible)
  • Acrylates crosspolymer
  • Acrylates copolymer
  • VP/Hexadecene copolymer
  • Acrylates/c10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer (possibly)
  • Carbomer
  • Styrene copolymer

Living plastic free

Living a plastic-free life is a very big challenge that is not feasible for many people. Plastic is in everything, unless you consciously go for the plastic-free options. But electronics, chargers, household appliances, shoe soles, furniture, flooring, fleece clothing, tights and swimwear are also likely to contain plastic. Throwing all this away while it is still usable is, of course, a bad idea. As I said, plastic lasts for a very long time. If you throw away your plastic products now, it won’t solve the problem. So we need to make sure that we are aware of what we are buying new at the moment, and what does and doesn’t contain plastic. So, living a plastic-free life is really a day’s work. But if we all make sure that we at least stop using disposable plastic, plastic that is made to be used only once, we will come a long way.

8 Tips on how to live sustainably

8 Tips on how to live sustainably

8 Tips on how to live sustainably

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Sustainable living is a fairly broad concept. To understand how to live more sustainably, it is important to understand what sustainability is exactly. You can read about it here. Do you want to live a fully sustainable life? Then you have to be completely CO2 neutral. That means a vegan, packaging-free lifestyle with only green choices. You don’t use a gas cooker and you trade in your car for a bicycle. You generate your own energy and filter your own water, which you use to water your own vegetable garden. For most people, this is a tall order, which is why they often choose to do nothing. Because that ideal is unattainable. But really, every little helps. And if you choose to separate your waste, you’re already doing incredibly well. Here are 5 simple ways to live more sustainably.

1. Reduce your plastic use

You don’t have to live completely plastic-free because that’s still quite a task. But there are very simple steps to using less plastic. There are some simple things you can replace that will make you use a lot less plastic:

 

  • Tote bags as shopping bags. They fold up small and last a long time. Like this cute bag with a world map you can colour in.
  • Fruit and vegetable bags to put loose products in, then you also leave the packaged products behind.
  • Do your shopping at the market and take some jars or containers with you to put the products in. Ideal for nuts, herbs or loose vegetables like green beans. Did you know that the inside of the paper bags from the nut store are covered with a layer of plastic, to keep moisture out?
  • Bring your own coffee mug if you go for a to-go coffee. Did you know that the inside of a paper cup is covered with a layer of plastic?
  • Go for a reusable water bottle instead of disposable ones.
  • Buy your creams in packaging made from recycled plastic, or preferably glass or packaging-free.
  • Put leftovers or your sandwich in a sealable box instead of plastic cling film.
  • Pay attention to microplastics. You will be surprised how many products contain them. Read more on how to recognize microplastics in products.

2. Choose reusable

Both making and breaking down products consume a lot of energy. The more energy something takes, the more emissions are usually released. The more we buy and throw away after one use, the more is produced and ends up on the waste mountain. Examples of products that can be replaced with reusable alternatives:

 

  • Dishcloth instead of kitchen roll
  • Storage trays or beeswax covers instead of aluminium foil
  • A tea egg with dosed loose tea instead of disposable bags
  • Reusable cotton pads instead of disposable ones
  • Reusable cotton buds instead of disposable ones
  • Reusable silicone travel minis instead of buying individual ones for each trip
  • Reusable wrapping paper instead of single-use paper
  • Growing paper as a card or shopping note. This paper contains small seeds that you can plant in the garden or in a container on the balcony.
  • Reusable Teflon baking paper instead of disposable paper
  • Fabric handkerchiefs instead of tissues
  • Reusable or biodegradable coffee cups instead of plastic cups. Or go for a coffee machine that does not use cups or pads, such as a french press, perculator or espresso machine.

3. Go thriftshopping

Apart from products that we only use once, there is also a lot that we throw away when we are fed up with it. Think of that dress that you really liked last summer, but is now out of fashion, or that side table that you no longer like three months later. The more we use, the more is made. Next time, try to find your clothes in a second-hand or vintage shop instead of a fast-fashion chain, and scour thrift shops for your new favourite furniture instead of buying cheap stuff at Ikea or Amazon.

4. Reduce your water use

Cleaning water releases a lot of CO2 and often involves the use of harmful chemicals to remove toxic substances from the water. The more water we all use, the more it has to be cleaned. If we are all more conscious of our water use, we can reduce the amount of water filtering. You can do this by showering for a shorter time, not leaving the tap open when brushing your teeth and washing the dishes in a bowl instead of under a running tap. The washing machine is another culprit. Be aware of the length of your washing programmes, the amount of water used and avoid half-empty washing drums on a full programme.

But you can also choose water-saving alternatives if you have the budget for them. For example, a WC with a button for a small flush, a water-saving dishwasher or washing machine, or even a private filter system or using rainwater instead of filtered water for your WC. Did you know that you can drink the water from the toilet bowl in a lot of countries? That’s actually a waste of environmental impact.

5. Dress warm

We like to be comfortably warm and that’s only natural. But instead of turning up the heat immediately, while you are still sitting in front of the TV in a T-shirt, you can also put on a jumper and curl up on the sofa with a nice blanket. Candles also provide a surprising amount of warmth and make it extra cosy. This way, you reduce your energy consumption and CO2 emissions, and you also save money.

6. Consume less animal products

Unfortunately, animals are responsible for a lot of CO2 emissions. A cow the most, a chicken the least. If we all ate a little less meat and drank less cow’s milk, fewer animals would be needed to meet that need. Moreover, the production of beef costs more than any other foodstuff. Pork and chicken are also in the top 10.

7. Reduce foodwaste

The production of food also requires energy and water. On average, we throw away about 1/3 of the food we buy! Try to avoid this by freezing your leftovers and introducing leftover days. This way, you don’t have to eat the same thing for three days, but you also don’t have to throw it away. Also check the supermarket for products that are close to their expiry date and take them with you for dinner. They often have a reduced price and many products can easily be kept in the freezer for another month.

Another idea is to pick up meals and products from local participants of “To good to go”, an app that works against food waste. The baker around the corner, the hotel in the city or the local shops, pizzeria or supermarket can join in and offer their products at a considerable discount on the app. Order your package and collect it at the indicated time. It is always a surprise what is in your package. It’s available in many European countries, the UK, big cities in the US and Canada. So you can save food while travelling as well!

8. More sustainable travel options

The bicycle is better than the car, the bus is better than the car, the train is better than everything and the plane is the worst. How do you travel the most? Are you the type that gets in the car for 2km or do you easily cycle half an hour to work? And next time will you take the plane to Berlin or Paris, or will you go by train? Be aware of the emissions per mode of transport and make a good assessment. The excuse is often that a flight is faster. But if you add the time spent at the airport and the time to get there, is that really the case? And is that time really so valuable that you would choose the most polluting option? Moreover, you can see much more in the train than from the plane, unless it is completely clear.

Do you still want to travel by plane or is it too far to travel by public transport? Book your flight via FlyGreen. A programme that automatically calculates your CO2 emissions and adds a compensation amount to your ticket. This extra amount is used to subsidise a large solar panel project in India.

And then choose a sustainable accommodation. On this site, you will find a lot of suggestions for websites where you can book more sustainable accommodation.

What does sustainability mean?

What does sustainability mean?

What does sustainability mean?

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Nowadays, we hear it all around us: we must live more sustainably, live greener, live more consciously. But what is sustainability really and what can we, as consumers, do to make our world more sustainable?

The definition of sustainability

In short, sustainability means that people, the environment and our economy are in balance. In this way, we use the raw materials that the earth provides, but we don’t use more than can be restored. If we use more than can be restored, we’ll run out of resources. Tree logging is a good example of this. It takes years for a tree to grow big enough to produce a substantial amount of wood. For example, it takes a 15-year-old tree to make 700 grocery bags. One supermarket in the US goes through 60,500,000 bags a year! That’s 86.428 trees a year for only one supermarket!

The idea of logging a tree and planting a new one is therefore unbalanced. After all, it takes years before the new tree is as big as the cut one. Therefore, we are increasingly searching for sustainable alternatives, alternatives that can be restored more quickly. For example, there is a type of bamboo that can grow up to almost a meter a day. If you cut a piece of that every week, it will still keep on growing, and the supply is enormous.

How does sustainability relate to the economy?

The economy in this situation means how much we as consumers use. The more we use, the greater the risk of depleting resources. This is quite broad and there are many factors that increase the economic burden. Think, for example, of production processes that use a lot of water and gas. So apart from the fact that you use the basic product, such as a wooden table, you also use water and gas for production. If wood from the Amazon is used, which is shipped here, you also have all the products needed to build and operate such a boat. So, the production chain, as we call it, has a big impact on sustainability. This is why it is so often recommended to use local products because you will cut out all those extra steps, gas usage and side products. Therefore, buying local doesn’t only support your local economy, it will also lower your footprint.

How does CO2 fit in the sustainability picture?

When we talk about sustainability, we quickly change to CO2 emissions. CO2 emissions are fairly easy to calculate and are therefore often used as a basis, but that is not the whole story. Increased CO2 emissions cause the world to warm up faster, which in turn can lead to the melting of the polar caps and rising water levels. So yes, it’s a problem. These CO2 emissions are mainly caused by production, the burning of gases and oils for production or the use of chemicals. But also, the droppings of a cow or pig contain a considerable amount of CO2.

These are all measurable effects and therefore the most commonly used measure of sustainability. Yet on the other hand, trees, for example, purify the air and thus reduce CO2 as well. So in addition to the CO2 emissions from the production of your new table, the trees that are cut down are also no longer able to filter the air. And that’s not often included in the calculations. However, planting trees is seen as CO2 compensation. When you hear people say “this product is CO2 neutral”, it usually means that actions were taken to compensate for the CO2 emissions of the production, not that no emissions were released.

How do we live more sustainably?

Although you cutting a tree in your yard doesn’t have the same effect as a company cutting hundreds at once, and your car doesn’t release as much CO2 as a production factory, there’s still plenty we as consumers can do. An economy drives on supply and demand. If we are more conscious about or stuff, buy less and buy items that will last longer, it will ultimately mean less production, fewer emissions and less depletion of our planet. Moreover, it takes a lot of energy and CO2 emissions to break down all our waste or process it into something else. Sustainable plastic is very nice, but that also takes a lot of energy.

Packaging free is a more sustainable option

For example refilling your storage jars in a packaging-free shop instead of buying a plastic bag with nuts, rice or pasta and then storing it in a plastic box you just got from take-out and doesn’t last more than 4 uses. But also eating less meat and more local products, which are not shipped in heavily polluting cargo flights, help to reduce pollution. Ultimately, we as consumers are the ones who buy products. If we all decide to eat less meat, travel more by train and stop buying a new phone with multiple plastic covers every two years, these products will eventually be made in smaller productions.

A good example of this is that a large milk producer in the US went bankrupt after masses of people opted for plant-based alternatives. It is simply a question of supply and demand. And if we all make more conscious choices, we can ensure that we are moving toward a more sustainable economy. Does this mean that you cannot buy anything anymore? No. But if we all make a few more conscious choices, we can achieve a great deal together.

Check out this article for some ideas on what sustainable alternatives to buy for a trip, that could definitely also be used in daily life.

 

Is my sunscreen bad for the environment?

Is my sunscreen bad for the environment?

Is my sunscreen bad for the environment?

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Sunscreen is extremely important to protect your skin from the harmful effects of the sun. Besides a slight sunburn, which does recover, it can also cause permanent damage such as pigment-related abnormalities. This causes either dark or light spots on your skin that can even grow when your skin gets more exposed. An even worse consequence of UV radiation on the skin is skin cancer. So I’m absolutely not going to tell you to stop using sunscreen. But unfortunately, most sunscreens aren’t that great for the environment, so I would like to advise you to be conscious about your choice of sunscreen.

Harmful ingredients in sunscreen

Sunscreen, like all cosmetics, is made up of different ingredients. Each cream has its own composition and there are several ingredients that can be harmful to the environment.

Microplastics in sunscreen

Microplastics are found in many cosmetics and unfortunately, sunscreens are no exception to this. The danger of microplastics is that they affect the ecosystem in the sea. In addition, marine animals can ingest the plastic pieces, causing their stomachs to slowly fill up with plastic. Because this is indigestible, it remains in the stomach until it’s so full that they can no longer eat and thus starve. Because it’s so hard to filter out of the water, it keeps floating around forever. They also end up in our drinking water and the water used for our crops. So chances are, your portion of vegetables from last night was served with a free load of microplastics. This isn’t healthy for us, either. Yet, it isn’t mandatory for cosmetic companies to disclose the fact that microplastics are in a product.

So, how do you know which products are more environmentally friendly? By paying attention to labels or by using apps that can scan and rate products. An example of such an app is Beat the microbead from Plastic soup foundation.

Sustainable labels

The labels that products without microplastics can have are:

  • The European ecolabel
  • Demeter label
  • Nordic Swan label
  • Cosmos organic
  • Natrue
  • Zero plastics inside

Doesn’t your desired product have a label? Then you could check to see if any of the ingredients listed below are in it. These are known microplastics. Are these ingredients in the sunscreen? Then you know for sure that it contains microplastics. Unfortunately, it’s not a complete guarantee that your sunscreen is plastic-free if it doesn’t contain these ingredients, but at least you know what you should definitely avoid. 

  • Dimethicone
  • Triacontanyl pvp 
  • Acrylates crosspolymer
  • Acrylates copolymer
  • VP/Hexadecene copolymer
  • Acrylates/c10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer 
  • Carbomer
  • Styrene copolymer

Personally, I’ve become a fan of sustainable sunscreen sticks. They are in a cotton wrapper making them light and small enough to put in your purse. And they are fully biodegradable. 

Harmful UV filters

Unfortunately enough, the UV filters that help protect our skin, is the most harmful ingredient in sunscreens. There are all sorts of regulations that ensure that the products aren’t toxic to humans, but unfortunately, little attention is paid to the environment. And this while sunscreen so easily ends up in the oceans. How often do you run into the sea after using sunscreen? Whether that was an hour ago or longer, the cream is designed to stay on the skin for a long time and therefore ends up in the ocean either way.

Which UV filters are harmful?

There are many types of filters and numerous opinions about what is good and bad. The disadvantage in this is that the criteria are mainly focused on what is bad for people, and not so much on what is bad for the environment. To limit the harmful impact of sunscreen on people, there are regulations that limit the percentage of ingredients allowed in the product. In this, chemical filters are the worst and only 3-10% of these are allowed to be added. For zinc and titanium oxide, a higher percentage is set, namely 25%. These filters are seen as a better alternative. Unfortunately, they are still harmful to the environment. Under the influence of the sun, they partly change into hydrogen peroxide, which is toxic to many plankton and fish. This is worse with the chemical filters, but they still aren’t ideal alternatives.

Which UV filters are environmentally friendly?

As I said, there are several ways to calculate the harmful influences. The only one that fully looks at the environmental impact of UV filters in sunscreen is the Nordic Swan Ecolabel. So do you want to be sure that the UV filter is environmentally friendly? Go for products with this label.

Can’t find any products with this label? Then check out the ingredients to make sure you’re making a good choice. Below are 3 lists of green ingredients (the least harmful, some of which are also approved by the Nordic Swan Ecolabel), orange ingredients (not great, but not too terrible) and red ingredients that you should avoid.

  • Benzofenon-5 / Benzophenone-5
  • Benzylideen kamfer sulfonzuur / Benzylidene camphor sulfonic acid
  • Bis-Ethylhexyloxyphenol Methoxyphenyl Triazine
  • Diethylamino Hydroxybenzoyl Hexyl Benzoate
  • Dinatriumfenyldibenzimidazol-tetrasulfonaat / Disodium phenyl dibenzimidazole tetrasulfonate
  • Peg-25 PABA / Polyethylene glycol (25) PABA
  • Fenylbenzimidazol sulfonzuur / Phenylbenzimidazole sulfonic acid
  • Polysilicon-15
  • Natriumfenylbenzimidazolsulfonaat / Sodium phenylbenzimidazole sulfonate
  • Titaandioxide (nano*) / Titanium dioxide
  • Tris-Bifenyl Triazine (nano*) / Tris-biphenyl triazine
  • Benzofenon-3 en -4 / Benzophenone-3 en -4
  • Kamfer Benzalkoniummethosulfaat / Camphor benzalkonium methosulfate
  • Diethylhexyl Butamido Triazone
  • Drometrizole Trisiloxane
  • Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate
  • Ethylhexyl Salicylaat / Ethylhexyl Salicylate
  • Ethylhexyl Triazone
  • Methyleenbis-benzotriazolyltetramethylbutylfenol (nano) / Methylene bis-benzotriazolyl tetramethylbutylphenol
  • Phenylene bis-diphenyltriazine
  • Terephthalylidene Dicamphor Sulfonic Acid
  • 4-Methylbenzylideen-kamfer / 4-methylbenzylidene camphor / 4-MBC
  • Butylmethoxydibenzoylmethaan / Butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane
  • Ethylhexyl Dimethyl PABA / Ethylhexyl dimethyl para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA)
  • Homosalaat / Homosalate
  • Isoamyl P-methoxycinnamaat / Isoamyl P-methoxycinnamate
  • Octocryleen / Octocrylene
  • Polyacrylamidomethyl-benzylideen-kamfer / Polyacrylamidomethyl Benzylidene Camphor