I bought my large faux croc leather suitcase 12 years ago for an almost three-week trip to the United States. Since that journey, it has travelled with me on many other trips to places like Hong Kong, Bali, Thailand, Macau, China, Philippines and Fremantle. It has been a reliable and trusted travel companion, thrown on buses, planes, trains and boats; easily manouevring over uneven footpaths and rocky roads and withstanding hail, rain, humidity and scorching sun.
After 12 years of travel however, my suitcase is showing obvious signs of wear and tear, most noticeably on the inside, with bits of hard plastic interior actually crumbling to pieces and making its way into my precious sustainably-made garments. The once sturdy luggage bag, now soft and flimsy, the broken plastic incapable of holding a rigid form.
Related Post: Eco Travel Essentials: The Sustainable Capsule Wardrobe
As I slowly part ways with my beloved pre-Eco Warrior Princess luggage bag, I begin my search for an eco-friendlier one. Here are my discoveries in the world of sustainable travel bags…
1. Heys Eco Orbis
This Toronto-based luggage company has been producing luggage for over 30 years, but only one of their luggage collections is considered eco-friendly: the Eco Orbis™. It is made from 100% recycled post-industrial ABS plastic. The suitcase has a hard-case with a geometric pattern on it, designed for the fashion conscious tourist. The suitcase comes in three different sizes: 21″, 26″ and 30″ and is available in five different colours. It also has 360 swivel wheels for easy mobility, is expandable and has a five-year warranty that covers defective workmanship (and not general wear and tear or damage caused by luggage handlers or airline carriers)
Eco credentials: Made from 100% recycled post-industrial A.B.S plastic.
Price range: $120 – $160 CAD.
Shipping info: Heys only ships to addresses within Canada, USA and Europe. I’m based in Australia, so purchasing online isn’t an option available to me. Heys luggage is available in some retail stores in Australia such as Strand Bags, but the ‘Eco Orbis’ collection is difficult to hunt down.
Ethically-made? Who knows. The company website doesn’t make mention of where the luggage bags are produced, but The Globe and Mail reports that the company uses production facilities in China. Do they pay these workers fairly? Who knows. I’ve tweeted and emailed them though. Stay tuned for an update.
To shop this suitcase, visit https://shop.heys.ca
2. Samsonite ECO-NU
This reputable luggage company has released an eco-friendly line of luggage known as ECO-NU where the fabrics used in the manufacture of the suitcases are made derived from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic bottles, including the lining! The range of luggage is available in vibrant colours like Raspberry and Pacific Blue and comes in the classic Granite/Midnight Black.The suitcase comes in four different sizes: 20?, 25? and 29? and a carry-on luggage bag. ECO-NU is designed with longevity in mind and thoroughly tested to withstand a variety of travel uses as is expected of this glonally recognised luggage brand. A 3-year and 10-year warranty is available for eco-conscious travellers for peace of mind.
Eco credentials: Fabric and lining made of 100% post-consumer recycled plastic bottles
Price range: $180 – $300 USD depending on size.
Shipping info: Ships to U.S. Alaska, Puerto Rico and Guam only.
Ethically-made? According to the company’s website, it owns and operates manufacturing facilities in Oudenaarde, Belgium; Szekszárd, Hungary; and Nashik, India. The majority of the luggage products are manufactured by independently owned and operated facilities located in China. No other information about the production facilities is available although the brand has its own Modern Day Slavery policy and other codes of conduct set out here. I’ve also emailed their representative for further information.
To shop this range of eco-friendly suitcases, click here.
3. Eco Traveler® P.E.T. Spinner
From Los Angeles-based company Traveler’s Choice®, the Eco Traveler® P.E.T. Spinner is stylish hard-shelled sustainable luggage made from 100% recycled P.E.T from plastic bottles. It comes in two sizes: 20″ and 28″ and is only available in the classic colours of black and navy. The eco-friendly roller suitcase has 360-degree maneuverability and comes with a generous 10-year warranty.
Eco credentials: Made from 100% recycled P.E.T. bottles, free from B.P.A.
Price range: $199.99 – $499.99 USD (higher end of the price range is for the 2-piece set).
Shipping info: Ships to Canada and U.S. only.
Ethically-made? According to the company’s website, they manufacture their luggage bags in factories located in Shanghai and Shenzhen, China. No other information about the production facilities is available. I’ve also tweeted and emailed them for further information.
To shop this eco-friendly suitcase, click here.
4. Patagonia Black Hole™ Wheeled Duffel
Patagonia, a long-time leader of the sustainable outdoor apparel industry, also offers backpacks, travel bags and wheeled duffel bags made from materials that are bluesign® approved; in other words, a textile production considered ‘sustainable’ as it eliminates toxic substances and prevents greenhouse gases being released into the environment. The Patagonia Black Hole™ Wheeled Duffel is the pick of the lot, as it has wheels that allow for better mobility, perfect for individuals who prefer their luggage to do the heavy lifting (such as myself!). The brand also offers an ironclad guarantee and will repair, replace or refund. They will also repair damage caused by general wear and tear for a fee.
Eco credentials: Made from bluesign® approved fabric, 15-oz 900-denier polyester ripstop (50% solution-dyed) and a durable water repellent finish.
Price range: The wheeled duffel bag is not available yet but for other Patagonia travel bags, prices vary from $149.95 – $349.95 AUD.
Shipping info: The company ships worldwide.
Ethically-made? While Patagonia does offer some Fair-Trade certified products, the travel bags are not certified. However the company takes corporate responsibility seriously. It screens all new factories to ensure it complies with strict workplace code of conducts, fair and safe labour practices and has monitoring and auditing systems in place to regularly review factory compliance. It also offers supply chain transparency in the form of ‘The Footprint Chronicles’ a map that provides the location and details of each farm, factory and mill. For more information on Patagonia’s supply chain, click here.
To shop Patagonia’s luggage bags, visit www.patagonia.com.au.
5. MEC Fast-Track Rolling Duffle Bag
The travel bags such as the Fast-Track Rolling Duffle created by Canadian retail cooperative MEC are made with sustainability in mind. The company sources eco-friendly materials which are then tested for colour fastness, wash durability, pilling, tearing, waterproofness, breathability and resistance to abrasion. MEC Ambassadors (made up of active outdoor adventurers and enthusiasts), also test products in real life outdoor situations to ensure the products stack up to expectation. The company also collaborates with other organisations such as the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) and Textile Exchange to ensure that all steps to reduce negative environmental and social impacts of products are examined by relevant third parties.
Eco credentials: The MEC travel bags such as this eco-friendly duffle bag features a combination of materials that are organically grown, such as organic cotton, recycled nylon, PVC-free alternatives and bluesign® approved materials.
Price range: $190 – $250 CAD.
Shipping info: Worldwide shipping available for additional cost. Free standard shipping to Canadian residences for purchases over $50.
Ethically-made? The company’s headquarters are in Vancouver, Canada but its production facilities are located across Asia in countries such as Vietnam. Nevertheless, the company requires all overseas factories to comply to a strict workplace code of conduct. MEC audits them regularly and its processes are monitored by the Fair Labor Association (FLA). While their bags don’t carry a Fair-Trade certificate, the company is committed to ethical production, fair wages and working conditions. The company has sought Fair-Trade certification for other items they manufacture however.
For more information on their sustainable travel bags, visit the MEC website.
6. HADAKI Plane Hopping Roller
If you prefer something a little more fun and colourful, you can’t go past the HADAKI Plane Hopping Roller bags, an 18″ travel bag that is perfect for quick business trips and weekend travel. Marketed as ‘eco friendly’ the vibrant luggage bags are made of fabrics that are free of toxic chemicals such as AZO and Phthalates, DEHP, DBP and BOP. The bag’s exterior is water repellant exterior and its interior wipes clean easily. It is available in a wide variety of colours and prints to suit your sense of style and playful preferences.
Eco credentials: Made from materials free of AZO and Phthalates, DEHP, DBP and BOP. No other information to suggest exactly what the fabrics are though.
Price range: $140 – $240 USD (some plane hopping roller bags are currently on sale).
Shipping info: Worldwide shipping available for additional cost. Free standard shipping to U.S. residences for purchases over $50.
Ethically-made? The company is located in New Orleans and has distribution and manufacturing plants in Mississippi and other Asian locations. It also has subcontracting facilities located both in the U.S. and overseas. The website does not detail whether labour practices are ‘fair’ and nor does it provide any information on supply chain processes.
To find out more, visit www.hadakishop.com.
7. Timbuk2 Copilot Luggage Roller
Based in San Francisco, Timbuk2 creates a wide variety of bags, backpacks, messenger bags and travel bags such as the Copilot Luggage Roller bag. The company’s main focus is on designing bags that are built to last, aiming for maximum use and enjoyment and avoiding waste. Materials are tested for their performance, strength, seam slippage, water column, tear abrasion, ball burst, colour fade and other sustainability factors. Only materials that meet pass rigorous testing are integrated into Timbuk2 bags. The Copilot Luggage Roller bag features skateboard wheels, comes in three sizes: 20″, 22″ and 28″ and five classic colours. The company also offers a lifetime warranty with its bags.
Eco credentials: All of Timbuk2’s primary materials – external materials and liners – are bluesign® approved and many are made from 100% recycled PET yarn from plastic bottles. On their website, they claim to avoid “materials considered toxic by the global community” and continue to search for materials that live up to performance, durability and sustainability. They aim for bluesign® approved materials wherever possible. Timbuk2 fabric scraps are also picked up by a local recycler on a monthly basis so no remnant fabrics go to waste.
Price range: $158 – $219 USD.
Shipping info: Ships worldwide. Free shipping within the U.S. for purchases over $75. International shipping costs start from $55 per bag.
Ethically-made? The bags are manufactured and hand sewn in factories located in San Francisco, Taiwan and Vietnam. There is some information about its supply chain processes on the website, but not enough to fully determine whether employees and contractors are treated ethically and paid fairly.
To shop Timbuk2 visit www.timbuk2.com.
Now if you’re on the look out for sustainable luggage bags and none of these tickle your fancy, might I suggest browsing sites like eBay or Craigslist for second hand ones? A preloved travel bag is probably the most sustainable option there is!
Know of any other businesses creating eco-friendly and ethical travel suitcases? Feel free to share the brand and links below! And don’t forget to share this post with any eco tourists you know to help reduce their travel impact!