We’re also considering ways to make our travel habits lighter on the planet, and one of the simplest places to start is with our luggage.
The first thing to think about is weight: lighter luggage (and lighter contents) can help reduce carbon emissions. The next thing to look at is the bag itself. When it comes to choosing low-impact luggage, durability, the material it’s made from, and design and functionality features are the most important things to consider. For example, we’ve started to see more brands experiment with recycled, organic, natural and biodegradable materials – including one that’s created a plant-based and biodegradable alternative to polycarbonate. And we’re starting to see more luggage makers offer repairs to reduce waste and keep products in circulation for longer.
For those that need a fresh start (or have a bag that’s beyond salvageable), we’ve shortlisted five stylish eco-friendly luggage options that you’ll want to show off down the travelator.
Talk about innovation, not only is Horizn Studios the world’s first vegan and PETA-approved luggage brand, but it’s also just released a collection with a patented hard shell that’s 100 per cent plant-based and biodegradable. The Circle One cabin luggage features a material called BioX (made from a multi-density flax weave) which is lighter than aluminium and longer lasting than polycarbonate – in fact it’s Horizn Studios’s lightest cabin luggage yet. The bag also features recycled lining and zippers, seed- and nutshell-infused handles and a magnesium telescope.
This bag is designed to be loved forever: if the shell does crack, Horizn Studios will repair your bag so you don’t have to replace it. As an added bonus, because the bag comes with a larger price tag, it’s offering anyone under the age of 30 a discount of 30 per cent (we won’t say no).
Meet the cabin luggage that’s equivalent to a first-class ticket. The luxurious bag is a part of Gucci’s first environmentally conscious collection – called Off The Grid – designed by creative director Alessandro Michele. While the collection’s campaign might have caught your attention with faces like Jane Fonda, Lil Nas X and David Mayer de Rothschild, its larger purpose to start minimising the brand’s use of raw materials and explore all manner of regenerated textiles is the real star of the show.
Gucci’s Off The Grid small trolley is crafted from a mixture of recycled materials and trims, including the soft-shell body which is made from ECONYL – a nylon fabric sourced from regenerated materials that can be recycled and repurposed. The collection also includes a range of accessories such as a shoe case, laundry bag and packing cubes, which can all be inserted into the trolley for convenience. It’s important to note that, while it’s exciting to see this brand commit to generating positive change for people and our planet, its general production still needs major improvements.
Last year Paravel’s Aviator cases were named the best overall checked luggage by AFAR – and it’s easy to see why. They’re carbon-neutral, come in a range of sizes and stylish colours (like safari green and scuba navy) and are the most affordable option on this list.
Made from a recycled polycarbonate exterior, the carry-on plus luggage is surprisingly light for a hard-shell case that has a larger capacity than most (46.6L to be exact). It also features recycled zippers, lining made from recycled plastic water bottles (GRS certified) and an aircraft-grade recycled aluminium handle. We can’t forget to mention there are four wheels with 360° rotation, so there’s no chance of tripping down the airport escalator (not that we’re speaking from experience here…).
Whether it’s a trip down the coast or weekend away with your friends, Lo & Sons’s Catalina collection is perfect to fit all your essentials in (plus the tote is small enough to be a carry-on “personal item” in case you want to bring it on a flight). Each bag has the option to choose between an organic cotton canvas fabric (which is soft and less structured) and a recycled poly fabric made from recycled plastic (which is water-resistant). These bags are incredibly functional: they have a padded messenger strap and a bottom tray insert that acts as a compartment for shoes and accessories.
Lo & Sons was founded in 2010 when 65 year-old Helen Lo was looking for a bag that was more functional than what she could find – and that wouldn’t hurt her back. Partnering with her two sons, she created a small direct-to-consumer brand that’s currently working towards its B Corp certification.
Samsonite’s Spark SNG Eco collection is the lightest option on this list – with the smallest soft-shell carry-on weighing in at just 2.5kg. The bags are designed with a new material called Recyclex which is made from post-consumer recycled PET bottles and finished with a cork trim that’s both renewable and biodegradable.
Samsonite has a standout eco-friendly luggage range (with hard-shell case options as well) and it is also pledging to work off 100 per cent renewable energy by 2025. But while it’s fantastic it is working towards more sustainable business practice, it still has a long way to go.