The term “eco-friendly travel” can mean a lot of things. It can mean booking the transportation option that will leave the smallest footprint, staying at a hotel committed to sustainability or making small swaps in your carry-on to minimize waste. And it can also mean purchasing your travel products from companies that are making a serious effort, too. Whether you’re shopping for luggage, technology, outdoor gear or everyday items; it’s worth checking out these eight companies committed to earth-friendly products, practices and causes.
Patagonia has long been a leader when it comes to sustainability and mission-driven businesses. Since its founding in 1973, the company has contributed more than $100 million in grants and in-kind donations to environmental causes and organizations; and in addition to being a certified B Corporation (B Corp), is a member of several other corporate alliances rooted in sustainability. Patagonia’s mission is reflected in its products — including travel packs, sleeping bags, accessories, clothing and more — all of which is made using as many earth-friendly materials and technologies as possible. And if that weren’t enough, the company also does its part to keep used items out of landfills by repairing damage whenever possible and offering recycling services for pieces customers no longer want or need.
These days, traveling with a backup, portable charger is practically a given for almost anyone with a phone. But we rarely consider the materials our tech accessories are made with, and what happens when we’re done with them. Nimble, a pending B Corp and a Public Benefit Corporation, addresses both of those things. The company uses materials like recycled water bottles, plant-based plastics (made of renewables like sugar cane and corn starch) and organic hemp in the creation of their portable and wireless chargers; as well as compostable, plastic-free packaging. And in an effort to minimize the (already massive) amount of electronic waste (e-waste) that heads to landfills every year, Nimble created a “One-for-One Tech Recovery Project” program and committed to recycling one pound of e-waste for every product sold. “[Nimble]’s packaging is minimal, the construction is ethical and responsible, the aesthetic is spare and beautiful (it’s nice when something so helpful is also beautiful), and the technology helps me stay connected even through my busiest days,” said Ashlee Piper, eco-lifestyle expert and author of Give a Sh*t: Do Good. Live Better. Save the Planet.
When architect Alex Shirley-Smith founded Tentsile, he had two memories from his childhood in mind: The time he learned about the destruction of the Amazonian rainforest on BBC News, and when — just a few weeks later — he saw Return of the Jedi. Per the Tentsile website, Shirley-Smith became inspired by the Ewok tree village in the movie: “Our forests would only survive if trees had a value to us as humans, he thought, other than a monetary one,” the website states. “If we used trees as a living accommodation, that might just save them!” Tentsile helps make that a possibility, especially for travelers on the go, with portable treehouse-style tents that can be suspended between trees. (They can also be used on land or water.) But the company is about more than becoming one with nature: They also plant 20 trees for every tent sold, as part of their partnerships with WeForest, Eden Reforestation Projects and Arbor Day Foundation.
United by Blue
Since its launch in 2010, United by Blue, a certified B Corp, has removed more than 1.6 million pounds of garbage from the world’s oceans and waterways. The outdoor clothing and gear company regularly organizes and hosts clean-ups to do its part in reducing trash and plastic pollution around the globe — and designs and manufactures products that align with that mission as well. United by Blue’s sustainable travel bags and many other items are made with materials like recycled polyester and organic cotton, in the company’s effort to minimize their environmental footprint.
ChicoBag — which makes reusable shopping bags, sandwich and snack bags, and more travel-friendly products — is committed to ending single-use waste (plastic and otherwise), and carries out that mission in pretty much every aspect of its business. Not only does the company use recycled materials in its products, but they also partner with socially- and environmentally-responsible suppliers, operate a zero waste program involving employees and customers, and commit to environmental advocacy and education. Bonus: The company also owns To-Go Ware, which sells earth-friendly bamboo cutlery sets (in holders made from recycled water bottles) and other food carriers perfect for minimizing your plastic use while traveling.
There’s no lack of reusable bottle options out there these days; but Klean Kanteen sets itself apart from many other manufacturers out there with its serious commitment to the environment, both in materials and mission. The certified B Corp and 1% For The Planet member sells plastic-free water bottles manufactured in a process that minimizes harmful chemical use; in addition to regularly raising awareness about single-use waste, supporting environmental organizations and partnering with events across the U.S. to work toward waste-free experiences.
House of Marley
House of Marley makes (very cool) headphones and speakers that are not only perfect for travel but also sustainably crafted. The company uses a long list of what it refers to on its website as “mindfully sourced materials,” including bamboo, recycled plastic and metals, FSC-certified wood (which comes from responsibly managed forests), organic cotton and cork, non-toxic silicone and more. Plus, the company champions and supports global reforestation through Project Marley, a partnership with One Tree Planted; and has thus far contributed to the planting of 168,000 trees.
Have you ever thought about what happens to a billboard ad when it gets taken down? Unless they’re recycled or repurposed, those heavy pieces of vinyl can end up in landfills. Fortunately, there are people out there committed to saving them from that earth un-friendly fate; Alec and Aric Avedissian, the founders of Rareform, are two such people. Their company, launched four years ago, repurposes 20,000 pounds of billboard vinyl every month and turns it into one-of-a-kind travel products, from backpacks to toiletry bags and even surfboard bags.