No modern smartphone is completely carbon neutral. Even the most eco-conscious phones are only partially made out of recyclable materials. But you can help cut back on plastic usage by at least purchasing an eco-friendly case to protect your phone from dings and scratches. There are plenty of them, from those that are completely compostable to ones made from ocean-based plastic. Best of all, eco-friendly cases are often just stylish and durable as their mainstream counterparts. Here are our favorites.

Pela

Pela smartphone case
Nicole Lee / Engadget

Without a doubt, our favorite eco-friendly phone cases are those made by Pela. We absolutely love their colors and designs, plus the fact that the entire line is 100 percent plant-based and compostable. The case material is called “Flaxstic,” which the company says is made from flax straw and compostable bioplastic elastomer. Importantly, it’s also free of BPA, phthalates, cadmium and lead. If you ever decide to get rid of it, you can indeed just chuck in a compost bin and it’ll be completely biodegradable.

What’s more, Pela cases are available for a wide array of handsets. They can accommodate iPhones (from iPhone 5 onwards), Samsung Galaxies (Galaxy S8 and newer), Google Pixels (from the Pixel 3a on), the Huawei P50 and P50 Pro and the OnePlus 9.

For iPhone users, we should note that Pela cases are not MagSafe-compatible by default. Strangely, too, you can only purchase an additional $6 MagSafe module for the iPhone 13, and not the iPhone 12. Applying it to my phone was pretty straightforward, so that’s not a big concern, but it’s something to keep in mind. And, obviously, the MagSafe module with all its magnets is not compostable; you’ll have to take it off and dispose of it separately.

Shop Pela phone cases

LifeProof Wake

Lifeproof
Engadget

LifeProof is a phone case brand that specializes in recycled materials. Each of its products is at least partially made out of recycled materials. But the most eco-friendly option is the LifeProof Wake, which is made from 85 percent ocean-based recycled plastic. According to the company, a lot of that comes from discarded fishing gear, which would otherwise be a fatal hazard for marine life like sharks and turtles.

In addition, we’re big fans of the Wake’s design. It comes in four different colors, and features an attractive sculpted wave pattern. It feels sturdy and durable, and LifeProof says it’s drop proof from two meters (roughly six and half feet). Plus, it’s MagSafe-compatible by default. The LifeProof Wake is available for iPhones (iPhone 11 onward), Samsung Galaxies (Galaxy S20 and newer) and Google Pixels (Pixel 4a and up).

LifeProof’s other cases aren’t too bad either. If you want a clear see-through case instead, LifeProof’s SEE series is a good option (those cases are made out of 50 percent recycled plastic), as is the NEXT series (they’re made out of 55 percent plastic and blocks out dirt, dust and snow). The FRE series (50 percent recycled plastic) doesn’t have a clear case option, but it’s also the sturdiest of the bunch: It’s the only one that’s waterproof from two meters for an hour.

Shop LifeProof phone cases

Casetify Ultra Compostable

Casetify
Engadget

Casetify is mostly known for making durable yet stylish phone cases, but it has several eco-friendly options, too. The latest is its new Compostable line, which is made with a 100 percent compostable and plant-based material called “Ecotify.” Basically, it’s a blend of bamboo, biopolymers and starch.

The regular Compostable line has a drop-protection of around four feet, while the Ultra Compostable line, with its extra corner bumpers, has a drop-protection of about 6.6 feet. My recommendation would be to go with the more durable Ultra Compostable option, even if it does cost about $5 more.

Unfortunately, Casetify’s Compostable line is only available for iPhones the (iPhone 7 and up). Casetify does make other kinds of sustainable cases for both the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy handsets (Galaxy S20 and newer), but they’re not compostable. Instead, they’re made from 65 percent recycled materials. Plus, Casetify offers the option to return your old case, which they’ll then reuse or up-cycle to create a new one, thus reducing waste.

The biggest perk of Casetify’s cases is that they’re very customizable. Not only can you pick out your favorite bumper colors and designs (Casetify regularly partners with brands and illustrators to come up with unique styles), but you can actually add engravings to them too. You can also choose to add even more protection with thicker bumpers (Casetify says the “Bounce Case” offers a 13-foot drop protection).

Shop Casetify Compostable phone cases