Pioneering a Pollution-Free Phone Case

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This post was graciously sponsored by Pela in collaboration with the EWC. The review and opinions are 100% mine. 

Flax, the mainstay ingredient in every ayurvedic doctor’s panty. It probably conjures thoughts of nutty-ish crackers that temper your cholesterol but chew like shoe leather and don’t taste half as good as Home Depot-orange Cheez-Its.

But what if I told you don’t have to nosh flax to reap the benefits? At least not when it comes to the planet.

No, I’m not talking about linen. I mostly cover fashion here, yes, but eco-friendly makers have been spinning fiber from flax for eons. That’s not a new story. Today, I’m set on a company that’s reimagining the seedy stuff, for phones.

A Lesson from the Food Revolution

If you’ve been around for a while, you’ve heard me say this enough times that you probably want to stuff some of those aforementioned Cheeze-Its in my mouth and shut me up. But I shall repeat. Because repetition leads to reality and my game-plan is to talk this stuff into action! I believe that fashion is following in food’s footsteps.

By this, I mean the change we’ve seen in recent years with local and slow food movements — people asking questions about where their food comes from, choosing humanely-raised meats, opting for flexitarian, vegetarian and vegan lifestyles, or reducing their impact by avoiding single-use packaged foods, composting and even committing to zero waste — is trickling into fashion.

And why not? Fibers and food both come from flora and fauna. So it makes sense.

Pela is a prime example of this shift. They’re using said flora to reengineer phones cases, making them more circular and, thus, more sustainable.  So why am I covering Pela if they’re not a fashion brand? Because the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry is also rife with eco issues, just like fashion. This is especially the case [pun!] for our electronics.

No toxins on your face! Pela’s material is plant-based and free from BPA, lead, cadmium and phalates.

The Conventional Case Conundrum

You’ve probably heard about the issues with global e-waste (if not, brush up here) and I think it’s really encouraging to see awareness building. But on the other hand, it hasn’t stopped rampant consumerism of tech products in the developed world (CITE).

There are approximately 224.3 million smartphones in the US and, according to a 2017 survey, 79 percent of them have cases. So while you may not think twice about phone cases, they exacerbate the problem.

Why? Because the majority of conventional cases are made from polycarbonate or Polypropylene plastics, both petrochemicals and both no bueno for the environment.

In addition to leaching toxins, which bioaccumulate in people, wildlife and the natural environment, plastics persists for eons! According to the Independent,  “Currently, only nine percent of the world’s plastic is recycled – a problem because most plastics are not biodegradable and typically take more than 400 years to degrade. And it never fully degrades, rather it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces that are eventually ingested by marine life.”In eco-lingo, these are called microplastics and they’re also an issue in fashion.  

Pela Defies the Odds

Until Pela, no phone case brand has addressed this issue, at least not at scale. Your only options for sort-of eco-friendly cases were from indie brands using wood or bamboo. But they’re incredibly hard to find if you want the real deal.

If you type ‘wood phone case’ into Amazon most of the results that turn up are actually made from rubber and plastic then painted with a deceptive wood veneer. If you’re lucky enough to stumble on an authentic one, it’s probably mad expensive. Then, there’s the very real issue of life because, as I’ve learned, wood isn’t the best insurance against a “fry finger” drop.

That’s why Pela is a pioneer. They recognized these issues and designed a case that practical, usable, and 100% compostable. And just as it’s bendable, it’s also commendable, giving back to environmental initiatives like Save the Waves.

sustainable-phone-case-Pela
Pela case is designed to endure but it's also 100% compostable after it’s lived its best life.

The Ingredient List

So how’s this genius little case made? From Flaxstic®!  

This is a term they coined for their material that’s part bioplastic elastomer (the stuff used in the soles of shoes) and flax straw. Their plastic has a lower carbon and greenhouse footprint than traditional plastic and it’s free of phthalates, BPA, cadmium, and lead. If you’re extra curious, this guy explains the nitty gritty details of it well. In a nutshell, this is Pela’s second case iteration. The first wasn’t compostable, this one is. Currently, the material makeup is 45% bio-based and 55% non-renewable. With each iteration, Pela improves, stating that they are working toward a 100% bio-based model next.

I’ll take progress and honesty over convention and status quo any day.

Does it Pass the Toothpick Test?

Okay, this is how you measure a flax loaf, but how does the Pela case stack up against its conventional cousins?

  1. It costs less. I compared it to two popular options, Speck and OtterBox, for my Google Pixel 3 (prices are also similar for iPhones).
  2. It’s got more personality! If you’re looking at other cases in the same price range, there are fewer color options and the designs are bland. Pela has an array of colors and designs and takes this further by offering specific designs aligned to foundations and causes. I dig my bright yellow version and love how the flax flecks set it apart. You’ll get compliments, promise!
  3. It’s lightweight, protective and unfussy. The Pela case slips on and off without assembly or snapping on a bulky box, yet it’s thick enough to pass a drop and bang test. Also, another win is that the material doesn’t attract lint and debris from the bottom of your bag like other flexible (and sticky) phone cases often do.
  4. It’s better for the earth. To really harp on this point, this is the only phone case on the market if you want something eco, durable and affordable.  
There are more mobile devices than people on earth. Think about all the plastic you could save by choosing Pela!

So before you go typing “cheap phone case” into Amazon. Weight these factors and give Pela a try.

Score Yours at 15% off with code ‘THEPEAHEN’ and show it off with #BelieveInBetter.

Photos / Magdalena Antuña

Case / Sunshine Yellow Google Pixel 2

Dress / Vintage, Available on Depop

Jewelry / Vintage

4 Comments

  1. Celia says:

    Loving that sunny yellow!

    1. Kasi says:

      Thanks, Celia! I like when my dress matches my phone case 🙂

  2. Monika says:

    I really like the idea of the case and thought about getting one for my phone because mine had lost its ‘look’ and was already a year old, dirty and ugly. The thing is though, why buy a new one when I could just polish mine off? I would only be dumping my old unwanted undegradeable piece of plastic and pioneer as a better consumer. Just wanting to point out that the purchase only makes sense, if you have a new phone or a phone in general, you don’t have a case for yet.

    1. Kasi says:

      Definitely, agree. I like profiling brands that manufacture better for when there’s a true NEED, not if you’re just buying to buy. It sounds like you made the right decision keeping yours! Same goes for fast fashion. I never advise closet cleanout just to replace the “unethical” items with “ethical” or “eco” fashion. That defeats the whole intention of wasting less.

      Thanks for reading, Monika!

      Kasi

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