Luggage has a bit of a tough ride, particularly when it comes to checking it in at the airport. Buying luggage that’s built to last—and comes with a warranty that’ll cover necessary repairs — is the most sustainable choice you can make.
When it comes to the materials, polycarbonate is one of the most durable materials for suitcases, and it’s also an environmentally sustainable choice too, thanks to the fact it can be made from recycled post-industrial waste and be recycled at the end of its life.
For luggage made from fabric, the denier (a measurement of the thickness of the fibers) is the key information to look out for. The higher the denier, typically the more durable the material, although it’s also worth noting that manmade fibers such as polyester tend to wear much better than natural fibers.
Whether you’re on a weekend city break or exploring the other side of the world for a month, your luggage needs will be very different. Bags and suitcases tend to be measured in liters (L), which can seem quite confusing; instead, look at the width x height x breadth measurements of a case for a more easy to visualize sense of size. This is also very important when it comes to carry-on, where there are very strict rules regarding the size of the case you’re allowed to bring on the airplane.
How can I make my luggage last longer?
One of the easiest ways that luggage can get damaged is in transit and, particularly if you’re travelling by airplane, there’s often very little you can do about it. That said, wrapping your luggage at the airport can protect it from bumps and scrapes.
Once you’re back home, it’s a good idea to consider how you store your luggage. Many come with a case to protect them from damage or scuffs while they’re tucked away in a cupboard. It’s also good practice to spot-clean exterior surfaces and the interior lining using a damp cloth and a mild detergent mixed with water after use. This will help the luggage continue to look as good as new.
It’s also important to never overload a case or bag, as this can lead to damage to zippers or seams. Choosing the correctly sized luggage for the occasion is a sensible choice that will ensure your suitcase or backpack lasts.
Buying a soft case, such as a large duffle, may also pay off compared with a hard case. The latter, while designed to be durable, can end up cracking if it faces too much rough and tumble with baggage handlers.
Can luggage be recycled?
Most luggage isn’t recyclable because it’s recyclable components, like aluminum frames, aren’t separable from the other parts of the bag. But while local recycling facilities may not be able to handle your luggage, many manufacturers have initiated voluntary recycling initiatives. Companies like Day Owl, which manufacture one of our recommended picks, offer its own return programs for upcycling old luggage.
Other ways of making sure your luggage gets a second lease of life is to donate it to charity. If it’s still in working condition but just a bit battered and bruised, consider offering it to a homeless charity, foster care agency, or emergency shelter who may well have people in need of such an item.