All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission. All prices correct at time of publication.
No modern smartphone is completely carbon neutral. Even the most eco-friendly phones are only partially made from recyclable materials. But you can help reduce plastic usage by buying at least one eco-friendly case to protect your phone from bumps and scratches. There are plenty, from those that are fully compostable to those made from ocean-sourced plastic. Even better, eco-friendly cases are often just sleek and durable like their traditional counterparts. Here are our favorites.
Without a doubt, our favorite eco-friendly phone cases are those made by For the. We love their colors and patterns, and the fact that the whole range is 100% plant-based and compostable. The case material is called “Flaxstic”, which the company says is made from flax straw and compostable bioplastic elastomer. Above all, it is also free of BPA, phthalates, cadmium and lead. If you ever decide to get rid of it, you can indeed simply throw it in a compost bin and it will be completely biodegradable.
In addition, Pela cases are available for a wide range of handsets. They can accommodate iPhones (from iPhone 5), Samsung Galaxies (Galaxy S8 and newer), Google Pixels (from Pixel 3a) and even some OnePlus and Huawei models.
For iPhone users, it should be noted that Pela cases are not MagSafe compatible by default. Strangely too, you can only buy one $13 MagSafe Module for the iPhone 13 and 14, not the iPhone 12. Applying it to my phone was pretty straightforward, so it’s not a big deal, but it’s something to keep in mind. And, of course, the MagSafe module with all its magnets is not compostable; you will need to remove and dispose of it separately.
Otterbox LifeProof Alarm Clock
LifeProof is a phone case brand that specializes in recycled materials, with each of its products being at least partially made from them. But the most ecological option is the LifeProof Alarm Clock, which is made from 85% ocean-based recycled plastic. According to the company, much of this comes from abandoned fishing gear, which would otherwise be a deadly hazard to marine life like sharks and turtles.
Plus, we’re big fans of the Wake’s design. It is available in four different colors and features an attractive sculpted wave pattern. It feels sturdy and durable, and LifeProof says it’s drop resistant from two meters (about six and a half feet). In addition, it is MagSafe compatible by default. LifeProof Wake is available for iPhones (from iPhone 11), Samsung Galaxies (Galaxy S20 and later), and Google Pixels (Pixel 4a and later).
Casetify Ultra Compostable
Casetify is best known for making durable and stylish phone cases, but it also offers several eco-friendly options. The latest is his Compostable line, which is made with a 100% compostable and plant-based material called “Ecotify”. Basically, it’s a mixture of bamboo, biopolymers and starch.
The regular Compostable line has drop protection of approximately four feet, while the Ultra Compostable line, with its additional corner bumpers, has drop protection of approximately 6.6 feet. My recommendation would be to go for the more sustainable Ultra Compostable option, even if it costs a bit more.
Unfortunately, Casetify’s Compostable range is only available for iPhones (iPhone 7 and up). Casetify makes other types of durable cases for iPhone and Samsung Galaxy (Galaxy S20 and newer) handsets, but they are not compostable. Instead, they’re made from 65% recycled materials. Additionally, Casetify offers the option to return your old case, which they will then reuse or recycle to create a new one, reducing waste.
The biggest advantage of Casetify cases is that they are very customizable. Not only can you choose your favorite bumper colors and designs (Casetify regularly partners with brands and illustrators to come up with unique styles), but you can also add engravings to them. You can also choose to add even more protection with thicker bumpers (Casetify says the “Bounce case” provides drop protection from 13 feet).
I start with organic
Incipio Organicore range of cases is one of the most attractive we’ve seen, plus they’re 100% compostable. You’ll find them in both clear and opaque designs, the latter having a buttery texture that makes the case feel more luxurious than you might expect. Most Organicore cases will protect your handset from drops of up to eight feet, and we like how their raised edges defend against accidental bumps and bumps. MagSafe options are also available, so you can still use your iPhone with magnetic accessories without removing your case.