This post contains some affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase, EcoCult receives a small percentage of the sale price. Some brands may have paid a small fee to be featured. We only recommend brands that we truly believe in. Support our editorial work by supporting them!
I’ve got bad news for you: you’re not going to be able to find a perfectly sustainably and ethically made suitcase (yet). There are so many factors involved in making luggage. For example, it has to be ultra-durable (which can be a bit more difficult when using natural and/or recycled material), and it’s almost impossible to find or make recycled zippers. The good news, however, is that there are a lot more options for eco-friendly luggage now than there were even three years ago, with plenty of brands using some or majority recycled components. There are a few reputable conventional brands like Samsonite and TUMI who have expanded their production to include recycled collections in recent years. Plus, we’ve discovered some killer brands like OGIO, which has been making eco-conscious luggage and bags for decades now.
Here’s what to look for in sustainable luggage:
Quality and durability: Luggage is functional, first and foremost. It needs to be able to hold up against inclement weather, being thrown around by airport staff, and years of jostling and juggling. Plus, a well-made suitcase—even if it’s not made from recycled or sustainable materials—could potentially last multiple decades, making it more ‘sustainable’ than something you might have to buy, use, and throw away every year or two.
Your own specific needs: What kind of trips will you be using your luggage for? How many compartments do you need, and for what? What size will work best for you? Do you usually take a carry-on or check your bags? Do you need a built-in luggage lock? Do you prefer more or fewer organizational features? Do you need wheels or backpack straps? Take some time to think about what you will actually be using your luggage for and how it will fit into your lifestyle so you don’t end up wasting resources on something that won’t work for you.
Recycled materials: You won’t find a whole lot of natural materials like cotton when it comes to luggage. If you want something that’s waterproof, tear-resistant, and/or has a hard case, you’re going to need synthetic. So look for recycled materials! All of the luggage below is either mostly or partially recycled.
Fair wages and transparency: Because, well, people should be paid fairly for the work they do, period. Look for brands that are committed to paying their workers living wages in safe environments.
Timelessness: Get luggage that you’ll love and use for years to come. Several of the brands below even come with lifetime warranties and repair programs.
Here are our favorite brands for sustainable, ethically-made luggage:
Paravel’s carry-on is made from a durable recycled polycarbonate exterior, with smooth double spinner wheels and carbon steel bearings; an aircraft-grade recycled aluminum handle; vegan leather details and wrapped steel handles; interior compression board; a scuff-hiding textured finish; smart interior pockets and a removable accessories pouch. In addition to the recycled shell and aluminum, the Carry-On features recycled zippers and lining made from post-consumer plastic water bottles. Plus, it’s TSA approved and comes with a 5-year warranty. They have two sizes: the Carry-On and the Carry-On Plus. This suitcase might be the best combination of recycled materials, durability, and design aesthetic that we’ve found so far!
You’re probably familiar with InCase. Not everything they make is eco-friendly, but they do have a couple collections that use recycled and/or responsibly sourced materials. The EO rolling suitcase above is a part of their Ecoya collection, which is made from fabric created through an eco-dyeing process that introduces coloration in the raw material stage instead of at the yarn phase (when traditional yarn dyeing occurs). This reduces CO2 emissions and uses 89% less water than conventional yarn dyeing methods while also creating a more colorfast fabric that stands up better to light, water and washing.
They also have duffels, backpacks, and tech cases made out of eco-conscious materials.
Solgaard’s Carry-On Closet and Check-In Closet (their larger “Trunk” suitcase) are pretty sweet. Their suitcases come with built-in shelves(!), making it so easy to stay organized while you’re packing and unpacking. They also come with Solarbank slots to make charging your devices on the go super easy. The whole thing isn’t made from sustainable materials, but the internal lining is made from post-consumer recycled plastic. Plus, these things are super durable, coming with a 10-year warranty, so they should last you a really long time. For every item purchased, Solgaard pulls five pounds of plastic from the ocean in partnership with The Plastic Bank.
OGIO has the largest selection of sizes and styles of suitcases and duffles, all made from recycled plastic. Not only that, but they are also super durable and come with a 100% satisfaction guarantee and a lifetime warranty. Built with lots of easily accessible compartments, this luggage is perfect for the adventurer on the go.
Did you know that Samsonite, the mother of luggage companies, has an eco collection? The fabric for the Eco-Nu suitcases, which come in five different shapes and sizes, is made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic bottles.
We’re sorry for linking to Amazon! We can’t find these suitcases anywhere else, but we still wanted to include them just in case for some reason this is the only one accessible to you. This 3-piece set has passed significant pressure and damage tests, so it’s long-lasting, in addition to the material being recycled.
TUMI’s recycled collection is made primarily from recycled plastic bottles, but they still meet the high-quality standards that TUMI is known for (meaning this pack should last you for a really long time). Plus, they design for repairability, meaning that when things do start to break down, certain parts can be repaired to extend the life of your pack. These have lots of compartments to keep you organized, and you’ll probably get a nod of appreciation from the business types if you frequently travel for work.
Made from post-consumer recycled plastic water bottles, Heys’ EcoLite collection of three different suitcase sizes offer incredible strength, durability, flexibility, and lightweight properties altogether.
Solo New York’s Re:cycled collection brings sustainable luggage to the masses. The affordable bags, priced from $24.99, are made from recycled plastic bottles. The process of creating the collection uses 50% less energy, 20% less water, and 60% less air pollution than standard luggage and bags. Although most of its packaging is recycled, the brand is going even further and aim to eliminate all plastic from their packaging by the end of 2020.
Everlane partners with safe and fair factories in order to ensure the makers are being paid fairly while also providing the most affordable and transparent pricing for customers. Some of their bags are made from recycled materials, but others aren’t, so make sure to check the details before buying!
Parker Clay is a socially-focused lifestyle brand that handcrafts luxury leather goods in Ethiopia, where they employ over 100 artisans. As a Certified B Corporation, they are dedicated to providing dignity and empowerment for their employees, as well as producing the highest quality products for their customers. Their weekenders are made from full-grain leather that’s produced in a metal-free tanning environment that is part of the international Green Tannin Initiative (which means it’s produced using less water, energy, no chrome or metals, and no sulfide). They’re actively working towards transitioning to “fully green leathers” while continuing to source locally.
Patagonia’s wheeled and non-wheeled duffles are made from post-consumer recycled materials and come in a variety of different sizes and neutral colors. Most of the fabric is bluesign certified, and you can see the factory where each piece is made right on the product page.
Not all of Eagle Creek’s luggage falls under the sustainable category, but they do have several heavy-duty pieces made from post-consumer recycled material and containing bluesign certified components. These bags have lots of pockets and straps, so they’re great for adventurers. Check out this piece for why you can feel good about shopping from REI!
Great for a shorter trip, United By Blue’s small duffles and weekenders are made out of sustainable materials like organic cotton, recycled polyester, and vegetable-tanned leather. Plus, every product purchased removes one pound of trash from our oceans and waterways.
Cotopaxi is a certified B Corporation with a foundation that’s on a mission to alleviate global poverty. From their small weekend duffles to their large backpacks for the hardcore hiker, everything is made transparently in their factory in the Philippines and designed to last. Much of the materials used are not entirely eco-friendly, but many of their bags are made using excess, remnant materials like fabrics, zippers, buckles, and thread, to prevent waste.
These MZ’s duffles and weekenders are artisan-made from natural leather and wool. They are hand-dyed and handwoven using a process used by the Zapotecs for centuries.