The 9 Best Eco-Friendly Cell Phone Cases of 2021

Here are some eco-friendly yet hearty options for your next smartphone swap

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A robust cellphone case can extend the life of your phone and prevent you from needing an untimely replacement. However, plastic screen protectors and cell phone cases that get thrown out each time we upgrade our devices are part of the growing e-waste problem. Plastic pollution has reached a crisis point. There are massive trash islands and microplastics in our oceans. Plastic particles have been found in the soil and even human digestive systems

Fortunately, quite a few options are available on the market to help us address purchasing single-use plastic cell phone covers. Sure, they're sustainable, you say, but will they protect my precious device? We researched the market to find sustainable yet sturdy options to consider next time you make your next smartphone swap.

Here are the best eco-friendly cell phone cases:

The Rundown
Best Overall:
Pela Case at Walmart
To address plastic pollution, Pela made the world's first compostable phone case.
A liquid alternative that hardens on any phone screen.
Miracase's affordable silicone cases are soft and offer a comfortable, non-slip grip.
These cork phone cases fit the bill for those with an eco-friendly mindset.
Best Ocean-Helper:
Lifeproof Wake Case at Amazon
Made of 85 percent ocean-based recycled plastic, this case has a drop rating of 2 meters.
A one hundred percent compostable phone case that's 100 percent tough.
Nimble is out to make your compact disc collection cool again by turning it into cases.
With unique designs and budget-friendly prices, you can't go wrong with Otto's cases.

To address the world's plastic pollution problem, Pela made the world's first compostable phone case. These cases are made of Flaxstic® — a composite of flax straw waste, plant-based biopolymers, and recycled materials. That means when you're done with it, you can toss it in your home compost bin. 

They're also free of phthalates, BPA, cadmium, and lead, which is good for your health, too. But Pela cases are not just sustainable; they're guaranteed to protect phones from drops and scratches and look good while doing it. Part of each purchase is donated to ocean cleanup initiatives.

Best Screen Protector: Pela Canopy Zero Waste Liquid Screen Protector

Pela Canopy Zero Waste Liquid Screen Protector

Are you tired of trying to find the right size screen cover for your phone? Canopy — from the makers of the world's first compostable cover — is a liquid alternative that hardens on any phone screen.

Pela Case claims Canopy will harden on any phone screen and protect your device against scratches and shattering. One glass vial provides enough liquid to protect three phones, tablets, or an Apple Watch.

If your phone screen cracks while wearing a Pela Case (excluding the Slim model) and the liquid screen protector, the company will pay for repairs.

Best Budget: Miracase Liquid Silicone Case

Miracase Liquid Silicone Case

Are you looking for an eco-friendly option for your iPhone or Samsung smartphone that's also easy on your budget? Miracase's affordable silicone cases are soft and offer a comfortable, slightly-sticky non-slip grip. 

The silicone material's elasticity makes it a good buffer against those inevitable dings and drops. It's a good insulator and is often used in electromagnetic field blockers making it a safer choice for cell phone users, too.

Is Silicone Biodegradable?

Silicone isn't biodegradable, but it doesn't contribute to microplastic pollution and it is possible to recycle it at home.

Best Cork: 15:21 Cork Phone Case

15:21 Cork Phone Case

These cork phone cases fit the bill for those with an eco-friendly mindset and a flair for Scandinavian design simplicity. Cork is a no-brainer choice for a phone case material as it's both durable and water-resistant. It's also a highly sustainable choice because it's recyclable. 

Beyond that, cork forests themselves support biodiversity, and cork oaks grow without pesticide inputs or pruning. They also absorb more carbon dioxide when they're regrowing their bark.

"It has texture and grip, which means that my phone slips out of my hand less frequently than it used to, and it feels lighter and thinner whenever it's in the back pocket of my jeans." – Treehugger writer Katherine Martinko

Best Ocean-Helper: Lifeproof Wake Case

Lifeproof Wake Case

Discarded fishing gear is a deadly form of marine plastic trapping sharks, turtles, birds, and other marine life. WĀKE is a phone case model — from the minds behind Otter Box — crafted from salvaged fishing gear.

Comprised of 85 percent ocean-based recycled plastic, it has a drop rating of 2 meters. The distinctive, sculpted wave pattern will always remind you where your case came from. A dollar of each purchase is donated to one of the company's water-conscious nonprofit partners.

Best Compostable: Urban Armor Gear Pro Max Case

Urban Armor Gear Pro Max Case

 A one hundred percent compostable phone case that's 100 percent tough — that's the best way to describe the Outback series by Urban Armor Gear. Like all the company's phone cases, Outback's plant-based material meets military drop-test standards. The case's shock-absorbing honeycomb interior can take a beating.

A raised camera and display bevels offer enhanced protection for your device, allowing you to take it anywhere. Urban Armor Gear says that this case can be composted in either a backyard system or a commercial compost facility.

Best Recycled: Nimble Disc Case

Nimble Disc Case

Music downloads changed the recording industry. They also left a lot of compact discs collecting dust on shelves or finding their way into landfills. Nimble is out to make your compact disc collection cool again.

CDs are made of polycarbonate — a highly durable and recyclable plastic. Nimble collects them (you can even send them that old Sublime album you're not listening to anymore). They're cleaned, ground, and turned into highly protective iPhone SE, 11, and 12 case covers.

The durable plastic won't scratch and passed a six-foot drop test. The case also comes with an antimicrobial coating and a superior grip to help prevent slips.

Best Bamboo: Otto Bamboo Case

Otto Bamboo Case

Bamboo is a fast-growing species that doesn't require chemicals. It can be harvested annually and is biodegradable. It's also incredibly durable, making it protective for your smartphone.

Otto Case offers phone cases for select iPhone and Samsung models in multiple wood species — including bamboo. Their designs are unique, and the price is budget-friendly. They claim the products can withstand a 26-foot drop, so your phone should withstand everyday use — and beyond.

Final Verdict

If you're looking for a sustainable phone case and screen protector combo, Pela Case (view at Pela) offers an eco-friendly dynamic duo. People who don't like bulky phones might prefer silicone options from Miracase (view at Walmart) or Caseable (view at Caseable).

No matter what case you choose, your phone itself has a much bigger environmental impact, so consider taking steps to help extend its lifetime.

Why Trust Treehugger

Heidi Wachter has been writing about the health and environmental impacts of plastic for years. She is passionate about helping people find more sustainable and safer replacements for single and multi-use plastic.