Product Review: Pela’s Compostable Phone Cases

I’m always eager to try products that offer a plastic alternative and am especially interested in seeing if eco-alternative products hold up to the wear and tear that their plastic counterparts do on the job. I’d seen ads on Instagram for Pela cases starting in early 2019 and got my first compostable iPhone case last fall.

A timelapse of a Pela phone case breaking down, via Pela

Their product line launched recently now includes printed cases AND Pela started doing a buy one – get one campaign earlier in 2020. The idea is that by offering a BOGO on the cases, they’re encouraging their users to actually wash their phone case. In our germaphobic COVID-19 state of society, it’s a good reminder that our phones are a pretty disgusting germ harboring surface.

Pela and their Mission

Photo via Pela

Pela is a Canadian company with a mission of attaining a waste-free future and reducing, in particular, plastic waste. Their eco-friendly phone cases (their signature product) features a 45% plant-based material composition and it fully composts in six months when you are done with it. As I noted a few times this year, we started composting in 2020 and now I’m fully obsessed with buying items I can safely dispose of (when done with them) in my backyard! You can learn more about the difference between biodegradable and compostable plastics on Pela’s website.

I was wondering, “where does the name come from and how do you say it?” – they were kind enough to explain on their blog. It is pronounced peela and the idea was that it is like a peel for your phone (Apple peel, get it?).

One other note, this company is radically transparent about their carbon footprint online. I love that concept and wish other companies were pressured to follow suit!

Other Products

Photo via Pela

In addition to phone cases, including the printed and clear back phone cases that joined their lineup in 2020, Pela also makes eco-plastic phone grips, card holders, Apple Watch bands and cases for Air Pods. Not plastic, but they also have a liquid screen protector.

Performance and Comfort

My year old Pela case (foreground) and two new cases (background)

As I noted, I’ve been using my original Pela phone case for nearly a year and really like it, so much so that I recommended the brand to my husband when he got a new phone earlier this year. I loved the new colors and printed cases, so I purchased two more cases this summer from Pela. I am really happy with the texture of the case – it is smooth, but just rubbery enough to offer some grip on the case. It also is a minimalist design but does protect my phone from scratches and more serious damage. I was (perhaps stupidly) worried about whether or not the phone case would break down from elements like heat in my car, the sweat in my hands, etc., but my original case is going on one year and is still going strong. I would strongly recommend the Pela phone cases.

The Vine Watch band and two new Pela cases I just bought

I also gave the Apple Watch band, “Vine”, a try. I was not nearly as pleased with this product and ended up returning it. The metal attachments to connect the band to my Apple Watch were flimsy and did not connect securely. I’m not sure if my product was broken, but I did not feel secure in using this band. Also – I was surprised that the material was so rigid. You want a watch band to mold to your wrist, and their phone cases are surprisingly malleable. The Vine band was uncomfortable and actually made my wrist hurt. It was confusing to assemble, and as I said, I believe it was broken or malfunctioning. I would not recommend the Vine Apple Watch band.

Customer Service

Photo via Pela

The company’s customer service is excellent and they are super responsive to questions you might have. I contacted them to let them know about my issues with the Vine Watch band and to inquire about the return process. They let me know the process right away and guided me through it. It was a bit of a strange process where I had to email them a photo of the package and send the tracking number to them (they don’t send you a label as most companies do), but they confirmed it within minutes and had sent my refund via Paypal.

The only issue I had with the customer service was that they suggested that I keep my defected product and offered me a discount code for a future purchase of 70-90% off. I’d understand and appreciate such a policy for a product that wasn’t defective, but I’m not going to regift a defective product to a friend and I’d like my purchase price back, not a credit toward a future purchase. This is just my opinion though.

Overall, I really like the phone cases and appreciate that they are compostable. I’m enjoying using my cases and rotating them out for regular washing, but I’m secretly excited to compost mine when I’m done with it!

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