Pela Compostable Phone Cases
Sponsored by Pela Case in collaboration with the EWC. Thoughts, research, and images are my own.
I have a confession: I would have liked to believe that the real reason I still use an iPhone 5c circa 2013 – which is practically a century ago in phone years – is because I am deeply committed to sustainable consumerism’s “make it last” philosophy, but it recently dawned on me that the real reason is that I like a good bargain.
I bought my iPhone refurbished in 2016. My very first smart phone, I finally bit the bullet because people kept talking about how great Instagram was (sigh! What a can of worms I opened) and I couldn’t access it on my dependable LG slider phone I’d had for like, ten years. I think I paid about $250 for my smart phone, and it’s been a very good investment.
The reality is that I do think buying refurbished technology is a good idea, not only for the cost savings, but also because smart phone production is catastrophic for the environment and linked to multiple worker suicides in China.
And at the breakneck pace we “update” our tech hardware, we further contribute to end-of-lifecycle pollution, as toxic chemicals leach into the ground and affect water resources and rice farms in China, which imports literally tons of discarded phones to recycle the precious metals inside of them.
But I realized that if I had a lot more disposable income than I currently do (like, if I won the lottery), I would be awfully tempted to buy the best and most expensive new smart phone on the market. And I’d be able to make some kind of excuse for that, too.
The point being that sometimes the choices we frame as moral are, in a different context, simply practical. So while it’s good that we take the time to understand the consequences of our actions, we should be careful not to make our identities dependent on every choice giving us more “moral points.”
But alas, I have lost the plot.
This post is about the fact that I found an ethical and sustainable company that still makes cases that fit the iPhone 5c!
Even when I bought my phone a couple years ago, I could only find one company still making cases for the 5c, and those cases were on final clearance! In case you don’t know much about the 5c, the actual shell came in several colors, and because the shells were made of plastic instead of metal, they are slightly bulkier than your average iPhone. Very few companies made full collections for the 5c in the first place, so buying a case two years out was a challenge.
But Pela Case’s unique, biodegradable material is flexible enough to work with a 5c.
About Pela Case
Pela Case was founded with the express purpose of reducing plastic waste. It’s a BIG topic right now in the sustainability world, but a lot of the “solutions” are shortsighted, especially since we’ve seemed to have gotten stuck on the single use items like straws and grocery bags while ignoring plastics generated from other consumer goods like home storage, children’s toys, and technology.
And anything helps of course, but I believe that companies that can prove the market for sustainable long term solutions are one of our greatest assets when it comes to changing consumer habits.
Pela Case has managed to find a plastic-free solution for smart phone cases. Using a material they’ve termed “flaxtic,” their cases are made with a mix of plant-based polymer and flax that gives the case durability and a unique speckled design while being completely compostable in both backyard compost heaps and industrial facilities. They’re also manufactured ethically in Canada.
Save the Waves
I chose the Save the Waves design because of my beloved Florida. As you may know, Florida suffered (and is still enduring) one of the worst red tides in recent history.
According to the Ocean Conservancy, this year’s algae blooms have, as of late August, killed over 300 sea turtles, 100 manatees, and dozens of dolphins, along with hundreds of fish. As of November 2nd, Florida Fish & Wildlife still reports high concentrations of algae along the Southwest and East coasts of Florida, with human respiratory irritation occurring in Manatee County, where I grew up, and neighboring counties.
This red tide is different because it’s not totally natural. Red tide is a common occurrence on Florida’s coasts – I was unlucky enough to go on a beach vacation during one in 2005 – but this algae bloom is particularly devastating because it is feeding off pollutants washed into waterways from farms in South Florida. (I have learned a lot about this phenomenon from reading Carl Hiassen books, strange and humorous crime thrillers about South Florida, if you’re looking for an easily digestible alternative to scientific reports.)
While the Save the Waves Coalition does not directly address Florida coastline, it works with local partners along at-risk coastlines to address issues of overdevelopment, water quality, erosion, and marine debris while also fighting to keep beaches public and accessible to all. Pela Case donates 5% from each sale of the Save the Waves case to the Save the Waves Coalition.
Start With the Product
I appreciate Pela Case’s design-first approach, which feeds into the concept of circularity. Pela Case is durable, flexible, and functional with sustainability at the forefront and their charitable initiatives are simply icing on the cake.
Plus, their willingness to continue to produce older iPhone cases encourages people to hold onto the things they have just a bit longer. Whether we’re doing it for the budget or the earth – or maybe a little bit of both – Pela Case has made an accessible, quality product.
P.S. They also make cases for Android phones.
Get 15% off with code, STYLEWISE
Leah Wise is the founder of StyleWise Blog. She has been writing, speaking, and consulting on sustainable fashion, the fair trade and secondhand supply chain, and digital marketing for over ten years. An Episcopal priest, Leah holds a B.A. in Religion from Florida State University and an M.Div. from Yale Divinity School. When not working, you can find her looking for treasures at the thrift store.