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Depending on your travel habits, you may only bring out your luggage only a few times a year. But when you do use it, it takes a beating. We were gifted a set of luggage a few years ago and it’s already falling apart. We will do our best to repair it, but if we do need to buy a new bag we will be considering more environmentally friendly options.
Luckily more companies are producing what they label as “eco luggage.” For example, Patagonia has several bags made from recycled materials. Heys luggage has a new set out, Eco Case, that’s made from 100% Recycled Plastic. (It even comes in the color green.) Sierra Club has put their brand on luggage that is “eco friendly on several fronts.” And finally, Eco Traveler sells a 2-piece carry on luggage set – made from hemp that’s PVC free.
While it’s great that companies are moving in this direction, there still aren’t a lot of green options available. Because you will likely buy luggage that isn’t labeled as eco luggage, here are the features to look for in conventional luggage that will help ensure your bag is a little greener.
Weight of Bag
It’s surprising how much luggage weighs. When we recently went to New Zealand my rolling carry-on didn’t meet the weight limits for carry on, not because of what it contained, but even when it was half empty the bag itself weighed a lot. When everyone’s empty bag weighs a few pounds, the result is too much energy being used just to transport the luggage. When searching for green luggage buy the bag that’s weighs less.
Size of Bag
The first rule of luggage size is to buy a bag that’s the right size for your purpose. While we prefer that everyone pack light, we’d rather you buy a bigger bag that you’ll actually use. Otherwise you’ll have to buy another bag.
The second rule of luggage size is to buy a smaller bag. Why? Because the more space you have the more likely you’ll be to fill it with stuff you don’t need. I prefer carry on sized luggage because 1) it saves the environment because I’m transporting less and 2) it save me the bag checking fee. I honestly don’t know time I packed my stuff in a non carry-on size bag. Even when we went to Argentina for three months (or New Zealand for 10 days) I still just brought a carry on.
Buying an expandable bag may seem to contradict my last recommended feature. But, I have found that an expandable carryon bag means that you actually have to own fewer pieces of luggage. When you end up buying too many souvenirs or get an extra large Christmas present expandable luggage comes in handy. You can carry-on one way and check the bag on your return trip.
If you can, buy a bag that’s PVC free and/or made from recyclable materials. Hemp or organic cotton are also great choices.
As I alluded to in my intro, cheap luggage often falls apart. Buy a bag with good reviews, a good warranty, or a well known brand. Make sure it feels sturdy. You might pay a little bit more now, but you will save the earth and some money down the road by not having to buy new luggage every few years.
Last but not least, if you are in the market for some new green luggage, first ask yourself whether or not you can repair your current luggage. If it’s just a broken zipper or wheel you can likely get your luggage repaired.
Personally, I love bags. One of my favorite places to browse in a department store is the luggage section. There are always new styles with fun compartments and nifty pockets. But, I know the greenest luggage is to continue to reuse by old luggage.
How often do you purchase new luggage?
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