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Wiser Living

Finding a natural solution

Green Travel: Eco-friendly Suitcases

by Samantha Schwartz

Tags: green suitcases, eco-friendly suitcases, Green Traveler,

You know you need a new suitcase when your dad has to sit on it to make it close, the zipper gets caught on the fabric every two centimeters, and the chances the handle won’t get stuck are about 1 in 7.

Time to go shopping for a new carry-on suitcase. But first, how do I get rid of my dysfunctional suitcase in an eco-friendly way? Unfortunately, because it’s broken, I can’t donate it to a company like Suitcases for Kids, but I don’t want it to end up in the landfill. Solution?  Turn it into something new!  

I scoured the Internet for ideas and found a Natural Home article that suggested creating a pet bed out of an old suitcase—but I think only my labradoodle’s head could fit in my carry-on. I also found some instructions to turn it into an ottoman or vanity. It sounds like a fun project, but my suitcase is not vintage or cute like the examples online. Until then, I can use the old carry-on to store organize my messy closet currently overflowing with yearbooks, photos, event programs and other memorabilia.

Now, on to the shopping. I want my new suitcase to meet these requirements:

• Eco-friendly: This is my number one priority in my suitcase search. A suitcase made from recycled material, hemp or organic cotton with a water-based coating would be best.

• Light and easy to move: My shoes and clothes are heavy enough as is. I would be lucky to last 10 minutes lugging around a duffle bag.

• Stylish: A stylish suitcase is fun to travel with and stands out in baggage claim.

• Organized: Compartments make living out of a suitcase more bearable.

• Inexpensive: For me, this means $200 or less.

With few eco-friendly suitcases on the market and even fewer that also have wheels, it was a challenge to find options that fit my criteria. The search begins for the holy grail of suitcases. Here are the best ones I have found:


Patagonia MLC Wheelie

Sherpani Meridian

Traveler’s Choice Eco-Traveler 2 Piece Set


This luggage is made from 100% polyester from recycled soda bottles and worn-out clothing.

Made with 67% recycled materials, nontoxic dyes and recycled aluminum, this suitcase is relatively eco-friendly.

Made with 100% natural hemp, non-PVC foam for durability and biodegradable cotton lining, it is one of the greenest suitcases on the market.


7 lbs, 5 oz

6 lbs, 13 oz

10 lbs

Style Check

This suitcase is not incredibly stylish, but the Desert Clay (orange) is a perky shade flashy enough to be found. The Northern Light (navy), Retro Khaki and black are less noticeable.


This luggage is adorable and would be easy to find in baggage claim. I would choose the Sea Mist (aqua) suitcase, but it also comes in Rhubarb (red), Palm (apple green) and black. Each colored suitcase has brown accents and a bit of lavender trim.

The tan hemp is not a great fashion statement, but both the Dolphin Print and Eco Print have a cute, save-the-world vibe.


This suitcase has excellent organization with a mesh laundry pocket and a sleeve for dirty clothing, along with three outer pockets sized for laptops, electronics and toiletries.


The mesh dividers on the inside are great, but it lacks outer pockets for storage of toiletries.


With two large front pockets, a shoe pocket and a zippered mesh lid pocket, the suitcase has many places to sort belongings.





The verdict?

The Sherpani is gorgeous, but its lack of organization and its semi-recycled material do not make the cut. The Traveler’s Choice is quite eco-friendly and inexpensive, but the colorless body and heavy weight do not appeal to me.

I would choose the Patagonia. Though pricey, its green design, light weight, choice of colors and well-organized inner and outer compartments make it my suitcase pick.

If you find a stylish, eco-friendly suitcase you love, please leave a comment.