The 7 Best Eco-Friendly Cell Phone Cases and Protectors

Pela's biodegradable phone cases are our top overall pick.

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Phone cases

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Treehugger Tested & Approved

Pela Case is our Best Overall, thanks to the brand's biodegradable materials and a wide range of styles. We're also fans of the cork cases from 15:21.

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:

Best Overall: Pela Case

4.9
Pela Case

Pela 

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, it can be composted. Pela offers a wide range of styles for dozens of Android and Apple phones, making it our top overall pick. 

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. Our editor found the Pela case easy to put on her iPhone, and after several months of use (and many accidental drops) reported noted no scratches or breaks.

We also like that 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

Pela

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 Cork: 15:21 Cork Phone Case

15:21 Cork Phone Case

15:21

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." ~ Katherine Martinko, Treehugger Senior Editor

Best Ocean-Helper: Lifeproof Wake Case

Lifeproof Wake Case

Lifeproof

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. It's available in several different color combos.

Comprised of 85% 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 Outback Series

Urban Armor Gear Pro Max Case

Urban Armor Gear

 A 100% compostable phone case that's 100% 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. In addition to a range of iPhone and Galaxy phone cases, the Outback series also includes several iPad cases.

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

Best Recycled: Nimble Disc Case

Nimble Disc Case

Nimble

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 covers that are compatible with nearly a dozen models.

The durable plastic won't scratch and passed a 6-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

Otto

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. The company claims 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 offers an eco-friendly dynamic duo. For an all-natural case, we also like the cork cases from 15:21.

What to Look For in an Eco-Friendly Phone Case

If you want a more eco-friendly alternative to the typical plastic case, the main consideration is material. When possible, avoid new plastic or silicone and instead look for cases made from wood, recycled materials, or bioplastics. 

Bioplastics aren’t a perfect solution—when it’s time for a new phone, most bioplastic cases will require an industrial composting facility to break them down. Natural materials like wood and cork are typically more easily composted at home, just be sure the case doesn’t have some kind of coating or paint, and that any rubber or plastic pieces are removed. 

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?

To make this list, we dug deep into materials and manufacturers to find the most eco-friendly phone cases on the market. Our team also tests top products and shares our first-hand experiences with using these cases in the real world.

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.

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