Eco-friendly holiday essentials, made in Cornwall

Credit: Evie Johnstone

Every year, five million visitors head to Cornwall armed with all the holiday essentials that a trip to the county just wouldn’t be complete without, from bodyboards and windbreaks to sunglasses and suncream — products that are, by and large, made of plastic. This month we’ve been celebrating Plastic Free July, so we thought we’d take this opportunity to introduce you to some of our favourite companies here in Cornwall that are tackling the problem head on by creating sustainable or plastic-free alternatives, many of them removing plastic waste from our beaches and recycling it to create innovative products that will last a lifetime.

Chemical-free sun protection

An essential bit of kit that most of us wouldn’t head off on holiday without, but the chemicals found in conventional suncream are bad news for sea life — and it’s estimated that 14,000 tonnes of the stuff gets washed off into the ocean every year. Zed Zinc Clay is 100% natural sun protection handmade in Cornwall. Designed for sea lovers and tested on surfers, it gives protection for up to 6 hours, even whilst in the water. It comes in a handy watertight metal tin and can be made vegan on request.

Circular living

This is the world’s first cup made from recycled paper cups, created by the team at Circular & Co who are on a mission to inspire and educate people about circular design, which is the concept of extending the life of throwaway items by creating new products from the waste materials. Crafted at their offices in Perranporth on Cornwall’s north coast, their reusable cups and bottles will last ten years and are designed to be easily recycled back into a new product. 

Ocean positive products

For 20 years, Fourth Element, based in south Cornwall, have been producing ‘ocean positive’ products, using ghost gear (discarded fishing gear) and other marine plastic waste, such as plastic bottles, as well as recycled polyester and nylon, to create new and innovative materials and fabrics to make a range of swimwear, wetsuits and diving gear. Their eco credentials are second to none as they seek to be the leading global sustainable dive and ocean sport brand.

Cornish comforts

Atlantic Blankets Navy Shell Blanket Web

Designed in Cornwall, these gorgeous, recycled cotton blankets are created to be as sustainable as possible, from the material (British wool and 100% recycled cotton) down to the packaging (since 2018 the company has rejected single-use plastic packaging in favour of paper bags and tape). 

Oh Give Me a Break 

They may be a cheerful, colourful staple of the British summer holiday, but the depressing sight of abandoned windbreaks piling up by the bins in her hometown of St Ives gave one disillusioned resident an idea. And so a plan was hatched, to breathe new life into these unloved items by turning them into a range of custom-made bags, totes and carriers, the durable, waterproof and brightly coloured plastic the perfect material for days spent on the beach. Oh Give Me a Break even sends 10% of profits to a local marine life rescue charity.

Sustainable sunnies

An alarming one million tonnes of ‘ghost gear’ (abandoned fishing gear) is discarded in our oceans each year. The team at Waterhaul, based on Cornwall’s north coast, is tacking the problem head on by recycling marine waste they find washed up on Cornwall’s beaches and turning it into a range of gorgeous sunglasses, which come with glass lenses (so no sand scratches!) and a nifty recycled cork case.

Cornish Skin Food

From their eco-friendly lab in Falmouth, sisters Krista and Mel and have developed an all natural, vegan range of skincare products, from body moisturisers to lip balms and deodorants, each one packaged in a travel-handy tube, which is compostable and fully recyclable. We particularly love the heavenly smelling Lavender and Honey Calm Balm, made with organic Shea Butter and Cornish honey.

Surfing wood

Credit: Luke Gartside

Every year, roughly 16,000 polystyrene bodyboards are discarded on Cornwall’s beaches, many of them breaking down and entering the oceans. In a bid to reduce the amount of plastic debris on our beaches, Dick Francis & Co produce wooden bellyboards using sustainable materials from their workshops in Newquay. They have also established free board rental at some of Cornwall’s most popular beaches — check out their Surf Wood for Good campaign.


Find out how you can have a plastic-free holiday in Cornwall by shopping local, packing your reusables and reducing your consumption of single-use plastics.