Our Favorite Zero Waste Sunscreen from Raw Elements

holding a tin of sunscreen

We’re spotlighting Raw Elements’ Zero Waste Sunscreen, getting into why sunscreen is necessary and effective, and looking at what ingredients should be kept out of our sunscreen and oceans. 

Estimated Read Time: 7 minutes

It’s been one of the hottest summers on record and it’s not over yet! August tends to be the second hottest month of the year but we’ll see about that.

Even though it’s been so warm, hopefully you’ve been taking some time to enjoy this heat and be outside. It’s so important to our health — and happiness — to enjoy the outdoors, especially during the summer months. 

In fact, people who spend time outdoors are happier and healthier than those that don’t. Getting outside on a regular basis can help improve your mood, has been shown to increase memory retention, and can help improve your focus. 

But an important part of spending time outdoors is making sure your skin is protected. Which is not always the easiest thing. When the temperature is hot, especially if you live somewhere humid, the last thing you want to do is be wearing a lot of clothes and trapping the airflow.  

Switching to more sustainable, breathable fabrics and fewer synthetic fabrics is one great way to stay cool while protecting your skin from the sun. 

Without proper sun protection, if your skin is changing colors from a tan or a burn, that’s still a sign that your cells are being damaged. 

But you don’t have to be afraid to show some skin as long as you’re taking the necessary precautions. 

Check out our Zero Waste Sunscreen options from our partner, Raw Elements! Keep reading to learn why eco-friendly sunscreen is so important for our bodies, for the planet, and why we love Raw Elements. 

Shop Raw Elements Zero Waste Sunscreen on Zero Waste Store

Cardboard tube of sunscreen. Pink lid that reads: Reef Safe by Raw Elements Coral Pink banner around bottom of tube that reads: World Reef Day

SPF 30 — packaged in a recyclable tin tube

Baby + Kids Sunscreen stick — compostable tube

SPF 30 Sunscreen stick — compostable tube

SPF 30 Face Tint — packaged in a recyclable tin tube

What Is a Sunburn?

Crowded beach, clear blue water in the background, and soft clouds in the sky

Photo by Federico Giampieri on Unsplash

Sun exposure = skin damage. It’s as easy as that. The damage builds up over time and continuously increases your risk of developing harmful skin cancer. 

The sun emits energy in the form of UV (ultraviolet) Radiation. We can’t see the light but our skin can feel it. When the UV rays hit our skin, it’s damaging our bodies at a cellular level. 

Inflammation happens when your body is trying to protect itself from outside sources it thinks will harm itself. So when the UV rays start to hit your skin, your body recognizes the damage and produces an inflammatory reaction which we know as a sunburn.

When your sunburn starts to peel, that is your body is trying to get rid of those damaged cells while it’s making healthy new cells.

Why We Need to Wear Sunscreen

If cellular damage isn’t enough to scare you, remember that overexposure to the sun can lead to premature wrinkles, skin spots, and premature signs of aging. Plus the risk of skin cancer.

Even just one sunburn as a child that results in blisters can double your risk of developing a deadly skin cancer later in life.

The best method of protection is always going to be covering up with clothing when in the sun and playing in the shade, but life happens and that’s not always possible. 

That’s where sunscreen comes in! SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and tells you how much protection you’re receiving from the UV rays (specifically UVB). The SPF number tells you how long it will take your skin to burn using that level. Assuming you applied it properly; make sure to read the instructions! So wearing SPF 15 would take you 15X longer to burn than wearing nothing. 

Aluminium tube of Raw Elements Sunscreen SPF 30 on top of wood block

But on top of making sure you’re wearing sunscreen with at least SPF 15, it’s important to look out for eco-friendly and non-toxic sunscreens. Commercial sunscreens are full of chemicals that are not only harmful to humans, but deadly to the environment and marine life. 

Why Is Eco-Friendly Sunscreen So Important?

Oxybenzone (Benzophenone-3, BP-3) — Most commonly found in lotions, cosmetics, and sunscreens. BP-3 is found in nature, it occurs in flowering plants, and it is used in sunscreen because it absorbs the harmful UV radiation waves and converts them into less harmful radiation our bodies can handle. 

In addition to health issues, BP-3 also contributes to coral bleaching. In healthy coral reefs, algae live inside the coral, act as their food source, and supply them with the color they’re famous for. 

When there’s a disruption in their environment, the algae leave the coral, taking away their food source and causing them to turn white, hence why it’s called coral bleaching. The coral without the algae leaves them vulnerable to starvation, other diseases, and ultimately death

White Soap Bar sitting on white soap dish with wood planks

Photo by Ahmed Areef on Unsplash

While it may not seem like you as an individual contribute a significant amount of sunscreen into the ocean, it’s estimated that 14,000 tons of sunscreen end up in the ocean every year. 

Sunscreen is not the only product that contains these harmful chemicals. They’re also found in tens of thousands of other cosmetic products. 

BP-3 isn’t the only offender in sunscreen so keep your eyes out for others including: homosalate, avobenzone, Octinoxate, OD-PABA, nano-zinc oxide, and nano-titanium dioxide among others. You can find a full list here.

Raw Elements Zero Waste Sunscreen

Raw Elements is the brainchild of an ocean lifeguard. After realizing the harmful effects commercial sunscreen has on our bodies, and our planet, he started to look for better options but couldn’t find any. So he created his own reef safe sunscreen!

Cardboard tube of Raw Elements Sunscreen for Baby + kids

Raw Elements sunscreens are made without any chemicals, dyes, or fragrances and only certified natural and organic ingredients. Perfect for people (and kids) with allergies and/or sensitive skin. 

Raw Elements Ingredients Include:

  • Certified Natural Zinc Oxide (non-nano) — the only active ingredient
  • Beeswax
  • Black Tea
  • Candelilla Wax
  • Cocoa Butter
  • Coffee
  • Green Tea
  • Hemp Seed Oil
  • Mango Butter
  • Rosemary Oil
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Tocopherol (Vitamen E) Soy Free

All ingredients are certified natural or organic; check out this list for more information on how all these combine to form an effective sunscreen.

Raw Elements also has a Restricted Substance List which contains a list of ingredients you will never find in their sunscreens. While banned in most eco-marine reserves, you can find 1+ of these ingredients in most commercial sun products. 


  • Plastic-free line — Comes in a recyclable aluminum tin that can also be upcycled into a multitude of options. 
  • Lip Balm Tubes + SPF Sticks made from post consumer recycled materials and are fully recyclable.
  • Delivered in fully compostable/recyclable paper packaging.
  • Raw Elements consistently reviews and is engaged in ways to reduce packaging weight, freight, and shipping to cut back on transportation pollution.
Aluminum Tube of Raw Elements Tinted Sunscreen. SPF 30


  • NPA Certified Natural — the manufacturing process and ingredients are certified to meet the Natural Products Association’s standards
  • 1% For The Planet — R.E. donate 1% of annual sales to nonprofits who are working to preserve and protect our Earth. 
  • Non GMO Project
  • Leaping Bunny - Cruelty Free — no animal tests were used on the development of any product that contains the Leaping Bunny label. 
  • Non Nano Zinc Oxide
  • Reef Safe | Ocean Friendly — Raw Elements does not use any of the ingredients known to harm marine or coral life — specifically those from the Haereticus Environmental Laboratory
  • World Reef Day Founding Brand
  • EWG Top Rated
  • From The USA — Products are formulated, mixed, and filled in the USA
Circle Logo with Coral Reef Illustration. Says 100% Reef Safe Ocean-Friendly

In addition to being natural and organic certified, Raw Elements wanted to make a product that active people could also enjoy. These sunscreens pass the ultimate test for water and sweat performance and can even be applied underwater! 

Have fun out there and stay safe! 

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