Frequent travellers expect a lot from their suitcases. They need to be easy to transport - preferably on swivelling wheels that can easily get those extra kilos packed from car to check-in - and sturdy enough to withstand being thrown around on luggage belts, into overhead lockers and in and out of taxis.
The eco travellers amongst us are looking for more than this, though - we want luggage that not only looks good but is also kind to the environment. Choosing a new suitcase, carry on or backpack because it will help to save the planet is the best excuse for buying new luggage we’ve ever heard.
Listed below are some of the eco friendly luggage brands that work to reduce waste, reuse materials and follow ethical practices.
Samsonite Eco Range
Samsonite remains one of the most well-respected luggage brands in the world and the care and attention to detail that has gone into their new range is truly impressive.
Featuring a collection of bags, suitcases and travel pieces made from recycled materials, the designers have brought together the best of Samsonite engineering with the most innovative sustainable materials. By repurposing post-consumer and post-industrial plastic waste from their own production lines, Samsonite is actually finding new ways to decrease its surplus waste and repurpose it - a pretty smart strategy, if you ask us.
Our favourite is the S’Cure, a hard case made from 85% recycled polypropylene and RecyclexTM fabric. Even the carry handle, ID tag and logo all incorporate wood waste. As we’ve come to expect from this brand, the finish is high quality, with wheels that glide smoothly, a closure that’s easy to use but feels robust.
Those after an ethical carry on should look no further than Kathmandu, which is ranked second in the world for quality of material by the Textile Exchange. In 2018 alone, the company recycled over 6.7 million plastic bottles into their products and by the end of the year had reached 80% of their current zero waste to landfill target.
Most of their backpacks incorporate a material called REPREVE®, which is a form of recycled polyester, meaning that you’ll have saved an average of 18 plastic bottles from becoming landfill or ocean waste for each one you buy.
Pack options come in a variety of sizes, so even if you’re looking for something larger to take hiking or on safari, there are plenty to choose from.
Matt & Nat
At first glance, the Matt & Nat bags looks as if they’re made from the finest Italian leather - so high quality is the finish. But the company was actually one of the pioneers in the vegan accessories space, so all of their elegantly simple designs are cruelty free. Known for its smart vegan leather goods, Matt & Nat (which stands for Material and Nature) is committed to using sustainable materials in all of its pieces. For example, aside from the PU leather used (which is much better for the environment than PVC) the lining of every bag, purse and case is made from 100% recycled plastic bottles. Their black ‘leather’ carry on case is exceptionally smart and sleek and is slimline enough to fit into overhead baggage but spacious enough to keep you suited and booted for a short trip away.
Bellemonde - a luxury vegan leather brand - is PETA approved, which is probably the best accolade a brand practising sustainability and cruelty-free production can probably receive. We’re big fans of the vintage-inspired Hardcore, which comes with four spinning wheels and is impressively robust. Seriously - a few knocks around in the hold or the back of a cab won’t even dent it. With an integrated TSA approved keyless lock and two large handles for easy lifting, it’s a the failsafe travel companion any hardcore adventurer needs in their life.
Superb craftsmanship and hardwearing design have been the pillars on which luxury luggage brand Tumi has built its 40 year reputation. In recent years the company has been more committed to replacing materials with high quality, sustainable ones and their latest line is the result of all their efforts. A Recycled Capsule collection of backpacks that honours Tumi’s practical design elements (so you’ll find plenty of pockets, strong zips and sturdy structures) but incorporates sustainable materials, each of the smart packs is made using recycled nylon and plastic water bottles. Depending on the style you go for, each product will prevent up to 4.7 ounces of post industrial waste from becoming landfill.
Writer: Bianca Barratt