beach gear

It’s always sad to leave the beach for the last time of the summer.  No more salty air.  No more crashing waves.  No more sandcastles.  No more boardwalk ice cream every-single-night.  Sniff, sniff.  🙂

There is also A LOT of beach gear that goes along with visiting the beach.  And let’s be honest, that stuff, regardless of whether your kids help or not, is a pain to lug around!

And, what happens to it all when the summer is over?  What if you realize you no longer need 5 buckets and a sand mold for every creature that swims in the ocean?  What if that crazy gust of wind demolished your beach umbrella?

I know it is INCREDIBLY tempting to dump all that crap into the trash cans on the beach and walk, unencumbered, off to get ice cream.  BUT there are more eco friendly ways to get rid of (most of) it.

Here’s how:

Beach Chairs & Umbrellas

After seeing many a sad umbrella or chair stuffed in the beach trash can I became slightly obsessed with researching other options.

I thought for sure I would come across some eccentric artist looking for these items to use in an elaborate sculpture of some sort. No luck.

I did discover that TerraCycle accepts outdoor furnishings through their Outdoor Furnishings – Zero Waste Box™ program.  It isn’t a free option (it’s actually really pricy!). but if you are dedicated to being eco friendly this may be the option for you.

Another option is to recycle parts of the umbrella or chair.  My local division of solid waste will accept the metal pieces of both the umbrella and chair as long as the fabric has been removed.  I know it means you can’t just dump the chair in the trash can at the beach but check with your local division of solid waste to see if they’ll accept your beach chair and/or umbrella skeletons for recycling.

Plastic Sand Toys

Over the years my kids have had their fair share of sand buckets, shovels, and other plastic beach toys.  For the most part, they remained usable from year to year, unless we ended up with a cracked bucket.  That’s no fun when you’re trying to carry water from the ocean!

If you have usable sand toys that you no longer need, consider donating them to a local school, church or charity.  They may be just a playground sandbox away from a new life.

Unusable (broken) plastic toys may be able to be recycled locally.  Our division of solid waste accepts rigid plastics, including toys like sand toys, for recycling.  While they don’t pick them up curbside I can make a quick trip to drop them off.

Inflatable Toys

beach gear eco friendlyYour blow-up flamingo gave you a good ride but sadly it’s lost its wings and is no more.  🙁

inflatables are made from one of those pesky plastics that are in no way, shape, or form recyclable.  The only way to dispose of them, when they are dead, is to trash them where they will spend eternity (basically) in a landfill.  (Cue gut-wrenching sob!).

The only option is to attempt to repair your inflatable with a patch.  Here are two options that I found online (to save you the trouble!) that both get good ratings and reviews:

A patch may give your blow-up flamingo, whale, or other inflatable a little more life.  And, once you’re done with it do your best to pass it on to a friend, neighbor, or charity that may be able to use it – and keep it out of the landfill!


While you are hopefully using sunscreen throughout the year you won’t likely go through it as you do over the summer.

When you do finish with sunscreen, be sure to dispose of it in an eco-friendly way.  Many sunscreen containers are recyclable but not all.  Here’s the scoop:

Plastic bottles
– Most sunscreen bottles are made of a recyclable plastic
– Check the bottom to find out what number plastic it’s made of to be sure
– Likely picked up curbside

Plastic tubes
– Most plastic tubes are not recyclable due to the materials used to make them
Goddess Garden sunscreen plastic tubes are recyclable!  🙂

Continuous spray bottles
– Metal sunscreen bottles are generally made of aluminum and are recyclable
– Likely picked up curbside

You can also use the recycling information above to help guide you when making future sunscreen purchases. If you are choosing between two sunscreens go for the one that you can dispose of in the most eco-friendly way once it’s empty!

Beach Towels

beach gear

Beach towels tend to hold up pretty well but at some point, it’s time to say goodbye.  Especially when your tween has outgrown using a princess towel!

The best option for getting rid of old beach towels is to donate them. Consider a local charity or animal shelter. I recently donated towels to our local humane society where they accept not only towels but also sheets, blankets, and tablecloths.

You can also cut up old beach towels to use them as extra rags for cleaning around the house!  A great alternative to paper towels!  (Check out this post for more – How to Stop Using Paper Towels and Paper Napkins in 6 Simple Steps).

Flip Flops

Flip flops get a beating at the beach.  They hit the sand, the waves, and the boardwalk so a blow out could be right around the corner.  When it does happen, don’t head straight for the trash can.  Try one of these options instead.

First, give fixing them a try, especially if you’re a mid-beach trip.  Here’s a great video that walks you through the steps.

If they are beyond repair or if fixing them isn’t your thing, check out this landfill-free option.

Terracycle sells a Zero Waste box for flip flops.  Basically, you purchase the box, fill it with flip flops and send it back to Terracycle. The cost of shipping is included in the purchase price. How about doing a neighborhood flip flop recycling collection??


If your sunglasses took a beating at the beach this summer all hope may not be lost – especially if they were a favorite pair or cost you an arm and a leg.  Many brands will replace the lenses or frames for a small fee.  Check the manufacturer’s website or get in touch with customer service.  It can’t hurt to try!!

If your sunglasses are beyond repair – or your desire to repair them – there a few options for keeping them out of the landfill.

  1. Donate them to a local preschool or church groups to use for kids dress up bin
  2. Keep them for your own dress-up bin – or future Halloween costume
  3. Donate them to the Lions Club eyeglass recycling program\
  4. Repurpose them into something new – here are a few ideas from the Refab Diaries

Goodbye Summer!

So even if all of your old beach gear doesn’t get tossed in an eco-friendly way, any change you make is a step in the green direction!

Making the effort to look for more eco-friendly options is a start.  The important thing is to begin to be more mindful of how you dispose of things you no longer need.  From there, you’ll begin to look for choices that are safer, healthier, and better for your family and the planet!

Until next summer!!


P.S. If you’re feeling inspired, check out my post, “Throw It “Away?” for a little more perspective!