Zero Waste Packing List

Zero Waste Packing List

Sustainable Travel

This page contains affiliate links to products and tours that I have used for my own travels, purchased & enjoyed. Clicking these links does not cost you anything, however doing so will support Blue Eyed Compass and allow the site to continue.  THANK YOU!

Packing for a trip is like the eagerly awaiting appetizer before a four course meal, it’s the pre-show before the long anticipated trip. What we pack with us for a trip can determine how big of an impact we leave on the planet. So, it’s important to keep in mind your sustainable choices when choosing what to purchase and bring with you on your travels.

It’s surprisingly easy to pack sustainably, and I’ve put together an easy to follow guide for doing so.

Included in this post:
  • Packing tips
  • What ingredients/phrases to look for
  • Sustainable Packing list essentials
  • Favorite sustainable brands

Sustainable & Zero-Waste Packing List

These items are essentials that every traveler utilizes. Whether you are an adventure traveler, a luxury guru or a hostel lover, I guarantee you’ll end up needing these items.

Sustainable Packing Tip: Pack lightly, by using only a carry on suitcase. Not only will you save yourself money from having to pay to check your bug, but it…
-Lightens the load on your flights (which is good for plane fuel usage)
-Makes it easier for you to travel (less heavy loads to haul around)
-and you won’t have to worry about the plane misplacing your luggage or not making it onto your flight

Things to look for BEFORE making a purchase

Keep an eye out for these terms or phrases when looking to make a purchase for a travel related item:

  • Vegan
  • Cruelty Free
  • Palm Oil free
  • Organic & Natural Ingredients
  • Plastic free & zero waste packaging
  • Ethically Sourced
 

Why should you look for these terms?

So many products are made to be cheap for the manufacturer and company, not for the quality & impact on the environment. Which means you’re paying for items that aren’t made with you in mind. They’re made with dollar signs in mind.

Are all eco-friendly products ethical?

Unfortunately no, which is why it’s important to do your research before spending your hard earned money on any product.

However, purchasing from an eco-friendly company that isn’t 100% ethical is a better choice than purchasing from a non-eco friendly company all together.

Advantages to Purchasing & Using Eco-Friendly Products

There are so many wonderful advantages to purchasing & using eco-friendly products, here are just a few:

  • They are healthier for your body long term
  • They are better & safer for the environment
  • They will help you reduce your plastic waste & carbon footprint
  • Over time, they save you money

Disadvantages to Purchasing & Using Eco-Friendly Products

  • There is typically a higher upfront cost
  • Not every item will be as effective as chemically created products

Sustainable Packing List

Eco Friendly Toiletries:

Toiletries are essential to packing properly for travelers, and are also one of the most wasteful things we can pack. Here are items that you can easily find and pack that are sustainably made & eco-friendly:

1.) Reef Safe Sunscreen:

Sunscreens are often filled with chemicals that are harmful to ocean reefs and to our skin. Better yet if you find a cruelty free & vegan reef safe sunscreen like this one: MyChelle Dermaceuticals

2.) Shampoo bar:

Not only do these bars last much longer than traditional bottles of shampoo, but you’re also avoiding the plastic bottle. Plus you’ll never have to worry about your shampoo bottle leaking in your bag!

3.) Natural Deodorant:

Unfortunately, many deodorants have been linked to breast cancer in women, since we have lymph nodes there that link to our breasts. So it’s important to our health to use an all natural deodorant. I’m still testing out different brands, but have far fallen in love with Lavanila & Ursa Major deodorants.

If you want an option that doesn’t use any plastic, then try this one: Little Seed Farm

4.) Bamboo toothbrush:

Our toothbrushes are made with plastic that is almost impossible to breakdown or recycle, so next time you need a new one try out a sustainably made bamboo one

*the bristles on bamboo toothbrushes aren’t recyclable but the handle is, so when you recycle it cut off or pull out the bristles first

5.) Tooth powder:

Just like our toothbrushes, the plastic tubes of toothpaste we purchase are not recyclable. Try out a tooth powder, which lasts longer than a tube of toothpaste.

6.) Razor:

Most modern razors are made entirely out of plastic except for the small razor blades. Save yourself money over the years & avoid the plastic use by getting a reusable razor from Leaf Shave.

7.) Menstrual Cup:

Probably my favorite item to have been invented, the menstrual cup not only prevents waste from other menstrual products but it makes your life SO much easier during that time of the month

8.) Deet free bug repellent:

If you’re traveling to a destination with lots of mosquitos you’ll want an all natural bug repellent. I’m a magnet for bug bites & have done very well with this all natural brand

Eco-Friendly Beauty & Skincare Products:

Keep in mind the list of phrases above for what to look for when purchasing beauty & skincare products, as these items are used daily directly on your skin. You can easily do this by checking labels. Companies will happily showcase if their products are vegan & cruelty free, as well as paraben free.

Sustainable Tip: beware, many companies will falsely label their products as ‘all-natural’ or ‘clean ingredients’, as there aren’t as strict regulations for labeling products yet. Be sure to dive into the ingredients or do a quick Google search before you purchase. Read more about what to look out for from this article.

Here are eco-friendly beauty & skincare brands that I love:

Drunk Elephant

Mad Hippie

Esmi

Tarte Cosmetics

Lush

Alba

Tula

Alpyn Beauty

Check out Follain & Credo Beauty too! Both of these skincare & beauty companies only sell highly ethical brands that are vegan & cruelty free.

Sustainable Carry On Items::

Any experienced traveler will tell you how important a well thought out carry on bag is necessary for a comfortable travel experience. Here are my TOP items that I always have on me during a flight and that are eco-friendly:

The bottom line is small choices build up to make a greater impact, so start small and transition your travel items as needed.

I hope this zero-waste packing list inspires you to improve your travel packing for future adventures!

Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog

Hi!  I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger, as well as freelancing web designer & photographer. I share real & honest information about traveling, how to do so sustainably, and ways to earn an income while working remote.

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Crazy Dense Eco-Travel Guide

Crazy Dense Eco-Travel Guide

Sustainable Travel

Updated Monthly with new tips, tricks & tactics!

This page contains affiliate links to products and tours that I have used for my own travels, purchased & enjoyed. Clicking these links does not cost you anything, however doing so will support Blue Eyed Compass and allow the site to continue.  THANK YOU!

The topic of sustainable travel and eco-friendly lifestyles are continuing to become more popular. And while many individuals have started treading down the sustainable path, we all can be doing more.

I’ve put together a guide on ALL things related to Eco-Travel and what you can start doing to become a more ‘green’ traveler. Even if you can only do a few of these, every small action counts towards the greater impact.

Being an eco-traveler is a growing movement and trust me, you want to be a part of it.

Unfortunately, the best way to often make the point across is to share negatives, like overtourism or pollution problems, so instead the aim for this crazy dense eco-travel guide is to be actionable and fun.

Included in this post:

  • Description of what eco-travel means
  • Best & most used sustainable travel items
  • How to fly Green
  • How to find & choose your eco-accommodations

What is Eco-Travel?

Eco-travel is the act of supporting eco-tourism. Meaning your travels should:

  1. have minimal impact on the destination
  2. positively impact the local community
  3. & encourage the education of sustainability.

It’s important to note that ‘eco’ does NOT stand for economy, but for ecological. Meaning focus your travel decisions on the environment over cost-saving benefits for yourself.

What’s the difference between eco-travel, sustainable travel & green tourism?

There are many popular terms used almost interchangeably throughout the sustainable travel world. However, when discussed side-by-side they are all slightly different from one another. I go into more about the different terms used in this post: What is Sustainable Travel?, as well as what sustainable travel is NOT.

For right now, it’s important for you to understand that eco-travel is also called eco-conscious travel.

Why is Eco-travel so important?

Each year, more and more people are traveling to new destinations. Studies say that over one BILLION people are traveling each year. Which, when you think about travel 100 years ago is an incredible feat… just not for the environment.

Now, imagine that only one million of those billion travelers came to your town throughout the year. Sounds like a great way for local businesses to thrive, right? But it also means loads of traffic for you and a lot of disregarded waste. This is where the term overtourism has come into play recently.

For each person who goes on a trip they are most likely looking to relax and unwind. That feeling of ‘not a care in the world’ has led to a lazy mindset, which leads to less thought out decisions, more waste and little regard for the impact our vacations hold.

Which is why eco-travel is so important. You can still enjoy a wonderful vacation while being an eco-traveler. In fact, you may enjoy it even more! Eco travel allows vacationers to enjoy the perks of travel, while leaving behind only a small footprint, and potentially an even greater positive impact than when they first arrived.

 How does Eco-Travel Help?

Eco-travel helps with the damaging effects of one billion travelers by ensuring:

  • Natural landmarks and destinations are preserved
  • Pollution problems are minimalized
  • And that there is little to no loss of wildlife and local culture

The Best Eco-Friendly Travel Items

What should you pack as an eco-traveler? This question alone will elicit tons of ‘gift guides’ and the ‘best items to buy’ lists, which to be honest, many of which are promoting the sale of items that are wrapped in plastic and shipped without a second thought to the environment (the thought is behind the affiliate income they’ll earn).

My goal for you is to not enforce greater consumerism, but instead become more strategic shoppers. Don’t just buy anything, instead purchase what you need and only the items that are sustainably made (they’re usually better quality anyway) However, at some point we’ll all end up needing to make purchases to help us ensure we are eco-travelers. So, make sure your next set of travel related purchases are eco-friendly.

Here are items that myself and friends use & love:

Flying Green/Sustainably

Choosing a green flight

Did you know that airplanes leave a MASSIVE carbon footprint?

And unfortunately, travel is increasing just as our cap to be able to control climate change is coming to a close.

More and more people are flying each year, as it becomes more and more accessible. This is wonderful in terms of tourism standards, but pretty bleak for the environment.

Here are some things to consider when booking your next flight for sustainability:

  • Look up how old the aircrafts are that are being used – newer plane models are created to be more efficient & reduce fuel usage
  • Do you know if they recycle their flight items, such as pillows & blankets?
  • Do you know if they recycle on the aircraft at all?
  • Is the airline dedicated to reducing their carbon footprint?

You can also offset your carbon footprint for your flights. This basically means that you donate money to an organization that delivers sustainable tactics to help offset the carbon that your travel emitted. Wow, that was a mouthful!

For example, if your flight is 20,000 miles in distance, as one single passenger you will have emitted about $20 worth of carbon dioxide. If you donate that $20 to an organization that, for example, plants trees, then you are offsetting the damage your carbon footprint has left behind.

You can find a list of carbon offsetting sites here, just scroll to the bottom of the page.

Here are a few other travel tips for Flying Sustainably:

  • Book a direct flight; even if it means sacrificing a few extra airline miles. It’s better for the environment as planes produce most of their carbon emissions during take off and landing of a flight.
  • See if it’s possible to take a train to your destination
  • Pack your own food for the flight & avoid using the airlines provided plastic cups and cutlery
  • Respond to airlines review emails after a flight & make suggestions for discontinuing plastic use on their planes

How to find & choose environmentally friendly accomodations

Thankfully & surprisingly, ‘eco’ lodging does not mean roughing it outside on a hammock made out of bamboo. It means that the place you are paying to stay in supports and actively follows through with sustainable tactics.

This could mean something as small as not having plastic bottles of shampoo & conditioner in each room, to having sustainably made furniture throughout the property, to donating money to local charities. There are a variety of things that any hotel, lodge or resort can do to be environmentally friendly.

Here are things to keep an eye out for when looking to book environmentally friendly accomodations for your travels:

  • How do they treat the local community?

  • Do they specify any details on how they’re sustainable? *Any business using sustainable tactics will proudly promote it on their website

  • Do they mention a food composting program or recycling program?

Tips for Eco-Travelers in their lodging

Even if your lodging choice is not an eco-friendly one, there are things that as an individual you can do to help create a more sustainable atmosphere:

  • Turn off the lights before you leave your room
  • Don’t have all of the lights on in every room
  • Turn your thermostat down a few degrees
  • Reuse your towels, instead of requesting new ones each day
  • Conserve your water usage
  • Utilize their recycling bins in the rooms
  • Respond to their survey asking for more sustainable methods to be put into place

You can search for eco-travel lodging on these sites:

Eco-Bnb

Green Pearls

Green Getaways – Australia

AirBnb

Being green in your destination

Eco-travel has so many different facets to it, which is what makes it such a simple thing to slowly transition to. We’ve discussed what to pack, how to choose your flight and lodging, so now let’s review what you can do while in your destination.

  • Take public transportation
  • Walk
  • Bring your own cloth bag for any souvenirs you buy or food you bring back to your lodging. Did you know that plastic bags take up to 500 YEARS to biodegrade… I’d rather my memories lasted years, but not that long.
  • Or better yet, just say NO to plastic
  • If you want to book a tour, do it with a small group that follows environmentally responsible operations

You can find eco tours by searching your destination with eco tours [example: google search, San Diego eco tours]

  • Reuse items like cups, bottle & containers
  • Bring your own reusable containers for food leftover at meals
  • Ever seen the hashtag #take3forthesea ? There is garbage all over the place, and while you don’t want to be picking up trash your entire trip, aim to pick up three items a day and place them in the correct bins
  • Eat plant based for two out of three meals
  • Be aware of animal tourism; don’t pay to feed tigers, ride elephants or ignore a street cat or dog.

Eco Travel Phrases to use

Part of being an eco-traveler is respecting the destination that you are visiting. If you’re traveling to a location where a different language is spoken from your own, then be a respectable traveler and learn these commonly used sustainable travel phrases:

Can I please take a photo?

I do not want a straw

I have my own bag to use

Do you recycle?

Please

Thank you

Where is your garbage bin?

No plastic, thank you

Small decisions on every trip you take are the start to making a lasting impact. In no way is it a sacrifice on your end. In fact, you may find that you feel like you’re gaining more in return than you are sacrificing anything.

I would LOVE to hear more about how you’re becoming a sustainable traveler – share your ideas below and I’ll reply back to you!

Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog

Hi!  I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger, as well as freelancing web designer & photographer. I share real & honest information about traveling, how to do so sustainably, and ways to earn an income while working remote.

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Sustainable Travel Backpacks

Sustainable Travel Backpacks

Best Sustainable travel backpacks every Millenial can feel proud to wear

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links to products and tours that I have used for my own travels, purchased & enjoyed. Clicking these links does not cost you anything, however doing so will support Blue Eyed Compass and allow the site to continue.  THANK YOU!

All prices are correct at time of publishing. This curated list does not fully take into account all the ethical considerations that are unique to each individual. Before making a purchase, we encourage you to do your own research paying special attention to the supply chain and your own particular set of ethics.

One of THE most essential items for any traveler is a sturdy, high-quality sustainable travel backpack, and if you’re a responsible traveler then you travel light and don’t check your bags.

In fact, a sustainable travel backpack is arguably more important than having a sturdy rolling suitcase. Your backpack carries your most precious items like your laptop and camera gear (… and snacks of course! What can I say, I love good snacks when I travel)

Your travel backpack needs to be versatile for your various travel activities, reliable and rugged for any adventures you may go on (whether planned or accidental).

If you’re searching for a high-quality sustainable travel backpack then you’ve come to the right place.

Below is a comprehensive list of ethically-made and eco-friendly backpacks for you!

Have I missed your favorite sustainable brand? Let me know in the comments & I’ll research the company to add to this list!

What to look for in a high-quality, sustainable backpack

There are FIVE qualities that you should look for when searching for your perfect travel backpack:

1. Functionality & meets your specific needs:

First & foremost you must know what you’ll be using your backpack for. A backpack is meant to be a functional item to safely carry your items from point A to point B and every other place in between.

Will you be using it for work, travel, hiking, the beach?

Will it need to be water-resistant?

Do the aesthetics matter to you?

Are you in need of multiple compartments? If so, for what items?

Will a zipper close work, or is a roll-top better for your needs?

It’s important that you take the time to consider what you’ll be using your backpack for prior to investing in one. You don’t want to dislike it a year from now and waste the resources it took to create it and your own money if it doesn’t align with your needs.

2. Quality & Durability:

No matter where you plan to take your backpack, there is a good chance that you’ll be slinging it around, shoving it into compartments, and just generally submitting it to some rough wear & tear. So, it’s important to prioritize the quality and durability of the backpack over it’s appearance. Otherwise, you may end up with broken straps, zippers that can’t close or items falling out of your bag

3. Sustainably sourced materials:

Of course, I have to touch on the materials your potential new travel backpack is made out of – it’s the purpose of this entire post! There are so many beautiful sustainably made backpacks that are biodegradable, non-toxic and made with renewable fabrics (such as banana fiber, recycled plastics, and organic cotton).

And each one is less taxing on our environment than a traditional backpack you could find anywhere. More often than not, they’re also even higher quality than you would typically find!

4. Classic Aesthetic:

You want to be sure to purchase a backpack that you feel you’ll love the look of for years to come. Not only will this prevent you from over purchasing, but it will save you money. I’ve personally had bags that I’ve used for almost ten years, and I still like the way they look and continue to use them.

5. Price:

For any budget-minded individual price may be your first consideration. You need to weigh the cost in terms of all of the items listed above- quality, durability, and materials. Purchasing a high-quality, sustainably made backpack should be considered an investment.

While some may seem like a lot in cost, it’s because they are made with the highest quality materials, by a sustainably focused company who also pays fair wages and provides a safe working environment for their employees. 

TOP Eco-Friendly & Sustainably made Backpacks for travelers

Please keep in mind that the companies listed below may not be 100% sustainable or ethical at this point in time. However, they are honest about where they stand and are working towards getting to that 100% mark. My rule of thumb is that if you can find this information on their website and they easily answer your questions regarding sustainability then they are reputable. If a company skirts around your questions or doesn’t provide the information online it’s a red flag, and they have something to hide.

Also! If you read a term or phrase that you don’t understand, scroll to the end for definitions, links & stats about producing sustainable products.

Here are my top recommendations for sustainably made backpacks: (in alphabetical order)

Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog

Hi!  I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger, as well as freelancing web designer & photographer. I share real & honest information about traveling, how to do so sustainably, and ways to earn an income while working remote.

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1

Beekeeper Parade

Best For: Day Trips & School

Price Range: $129

Company Sustainable Ethics: BeeKeeper Parade focuses on supporting children in Cambodia, as well as creating each item with up-cycled materials. Their website does not list specifics, it only states “Our full environmental policy will be posted here shortly.”

Backpack Perks:

  • Secret top compartment for your sunglasses
  • Separate laptop compartment

Beekeeper Parade Backpack Pros/Cons:

Cons: They don’t have sustainable specifics on their website, so it;s difficult to judge what or if they are doing so

Pros: Each purchase supports a child in need

2

Cotopaxi

Best For: Backpack Travelers

Price Range: $70-$220

Company Sustainable EthicsCotopaxi is on a mission to alleviate global poverty by donating 1% of their profits and provide grants to nonprofits who align with their mission to lowering global poverty.

They’re also a certified B corporation meaning they meet the highest standards of verified social & environmental performance. Cotopaxi ensures that anyone who is apart of the process of making their items has fair, sustainable working conditions. Their materials are also hand selected to meet their high quality standards

Backpack Perks:

  • Separate zipper for laptop
  • Plenty of useful compartments
  • Zipper close with magnetic button
  • Padded back panel & shoulder straps for comfort
  • Weather resistant finish
  • Fits under most airline seats

Cotopaxi Backpack Pros/Cons:

Cons: not all materials used are entirely eco-friendly

Pros: Stellar standards on all aspects, not just materials, customers can customize items, and some are very colorful

3

Est Wst

Best For: artisan inspired travelers

Price Range: $100-$175

Company Sustainable Ethics: Est Wst states they are a collection of partnerships, meaning they focus on where the materials and items are coming from and that every item they purchase has an impact somewhere in the world.

They utilize traditional artisan processes and source natural fibers for their products. They also use recycled packaging!

Backpack Perks:

  • Waterproof liners made from recycled plastics
  • Organic cotton & vegetable tanned leather
  • Each item is handmade in the USA
  • Laptop pocket

Est Wst Backpack Pros/Cons:

Cons: they use leather

Pros: Est Wst is dedicated to supporting artisan designs and traditions

4

Everlane

Best For: affordability & modern style

Price Range: $35-100

Company Sustainable Ethics: Everlane uses what they call ‘radical transparency’ with their consumers. They focus their efforts to find and work with the best factories around the world, and ensure employees receive fair wages, work in safe environments and have reasonable working hours

Backpack Perks:

  • Exterior laptop pocket

  • Roll through strap to attach to rolling luggage

  • Many backpacks are made with recycled polyester

Everlane Backpacks Pros/Cons:

Cons: not all items are made of 100% sustainable materials, BUT they’re working on it

Pros: classic, minimalist looks that will look good for years & transparent about their costs & retail pricing

5

Fjallraven Hiking Backpacks

Best Forcomfy unisex backpacks

Price Range: $55-$225

Company Sustainable EthicsFjallraven practices sustainability throughout its entire manufacturing process. They use nontoxic, natural and recycled materials, enforce fair production practices, and their code of conduct supports animal welfare, environmental protection and anti-corruption.

Fjallraven also belongs to the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and the Fair Labor Association.

Backpack Perks:

  • Water resistant bags
  • Very durable
  • Recycled nylon & polyester and organic cotton to withstand extreme weather conditions and everyday use.

Fjallraven Backpacks Pros/Cons:

Cons: some reviews on Amazon say the bag is not too durable & there aren’t many compartments

Pros: tons of options for style and color & superior standards on all fronts of sustainability

6

grünBAG

Best For: day pack or work

Price Range: $120-$200

Company Sustainable Ethics: grünBAG is a Denmark company that only uses industrial materials that would otherwise go to waste, such as tarpaulin (material used for truck covers & party tents). Their straps are made of recycled plastic, and interiors made from mesh banners that were used as advertising banners in Denmark. Even their shipping material is recycled cardboard. Some of their bags are vegan, while a few are made with real leather. You can read more about their materials here.

Backpack Perks:

  • Roll over close so can squeeze in more items
  • Waterproof
  • Many bags are made-to-order

grünBAG Backpacks Pros/Cons:

Cons: not many compartments to organize your items

Pros: excellent company moral for sustainability & customizable & made to order

 

7

Haiku Trailblazer Backpack

Best Forairplane carry on backpack

Price Range: $140

Company Sustainable Ethics: Haiku backpacks are made entirely of CyclePET, a durable polyester fabric made from post-consumer beverage bottles.

Backpack Perks:

  • Separate zippered compartment for your laptop makes for ease of access, fits most 15” laptops

  • Hidden zip pocket on back panel for your passport or cell phone

  • Great dimensions for most airline carry-ons. Measures 18” H x 11” W x 7” D

Haiku Backpacks Pros/Cons:

Cons: a bit small in size for the price

Pros: backpacks are partly made from recycled plastics & are a super convenient carry on item

8

Johnny Urban

Best For: carry on backpacks & day packs

Price Range: $50-$100

Company Sustainable Ethics: Bags are made from 100% recycled plastic, cotton canvases and a PFC-free agent to prevent pollutants from entering the environment

Backpack Perks:

  • Roll top close

  • Classic designs

  • Fits 18L

  • Very lightweight

Johnyy Urban Backpacks Pros/Cons:

Cons: not all of their products are 100% sustainably made

Pros: classic design that you’ll like for years

 

9

Kathmandu Outdoor Adventure Backpacks

Best For: outdoor adventurers & frequent fliers

Price Range: $60-$500

Company Sustainable Ethics: Kathmandu has done a terrific job on multiple fronts for a sustainable impact. They focus on workers rights and have created 5-star green buildings. And they use sustainable materials such as recycled cotton, recycled polyester, and sustainable wool.

Backpack Perks:

  • Rolltop to easily compress bag size
  • Laptop case removes with ease
  • Sustainable materials including Ripstop nylon; a woven fabric known for reducing tearing in your pack
  • My choice, the Federate Adapt backpack, can be used for travel, work or hiking

Kathmandu Backpacks Pros/Cons:

Pros: large range of unisex, men & womens backpacks in a range of adventure types

10

Lo & Sons

Best For: minimalist styles with expert functionality

Price Range: $100-$450

Company Sustainable Ethics: A happily evolving company, Lo & Sons has set specific goals to transition their products to be made more sustainably. Currently 15% of their products are done so by using recycled poly, a polyester-like fabric made from recycled water bottles.

They also have an organic cotton collection. This cotton is created without pesticides & chemicals, which means there will be ZERO excess nitrogen leaking into our bodies of water (nitrogen threatens sea & plant life)

Backpack Perks:

  • Timeless pieces that will last for a long time
  • Made for suitcases with a luggage sleeve to slide your bag onto easily
  • Each piece is made with frequent travelers in mind, meaning each has compartments, adjustable sleeves and high durability

Lo & Sons Backpacks Pros/Cons:

Cons: majority of their items are not sustainably made, neither is their packaging

Pros: they are actively working on rectifying those packaging issues & their sustainable goals are specific, which means they are holding themselves accountable

 

Discover more about Sustainable Travel & how easy it can be for anyone to help the planet

11

Looptworks Upcycled Backpacks

Best For: modern style

Price Range: $60-$600

Company Sustainable Ethics: Looptworks is working on creating closed-loop solutions to manufacturing new items. They upcycle materials that would otherwise end up in landfills or be incinerated and create beautiful, modern backpacks. They produce their items in factories that follow fair labor laws.

Backpack Perks:

  • 100% upcycled material backpacks
  • More than just backpacks! They also have smaller handbags & apparel
  • Many items are limited supply, so there’s opportunity to own something unique

Looptworks Backpacks Pros/Cons:

Cons: they use real leather

Pros: upcycling materials & only produce items in factories with fair labor laws, plus they have a lifetime warranty

12

Mafia Bags

Best For: water sport athletes for wetsuit storage

Price Range: $70-$200

Company Sustainable Ethics: Mafia Bags creates their backpacks using sails (windsurfing, kitesurfing & sailboat sails). They partner with athletes and sailors from around the world to donate their used sails. Mafia Bags is also a Certified B Corporation!

Backpack Perks:

  • Each bag is created by hand, so each is unique

  • Made from used sail material

  • Lifetime guarantee

Mafia Bag Backpacks Pros/Cons:

Cons: not 100% made from sustainable material. They source locally in the US which is great, but their buckles and webbings don’t seem to be sustainably made

Pros: each piece is totally unique, shipping material is recyclable & if you donate a sail you get a bag for free!

 

13

Matt & Nat

Best For: stylish bags for day trips or flights

Price Range: $110-$300

Company Sustainable Ethics: Matt & Nat are a 100% vegan products company. Every item lining is made out of recycled plastic bottles. Cork and rubber are used for other items, and their vegan leather is made with PU (polyurethane) and PVC (polyvinyl chloride).

Matt & Nat frequently visit their factories to ensure that fair labor practices are being used and for the integrity of their products. And they promote upcycling of bags once a customer no longer wants to use their Matt & Nat purchase.

Backpack Perks:

  • 100% sustainably made
  • Beautifully crafted pieces
  • Each item has unique features

Matt & Nat Backpacks Pros/Cons:

Cons: backpacks aren’t made for carry on suitcase travelers, meaning they are more stylish, less functional for long term travel

Pros: 100% sustainably made & stellar company standards for customers and their employees

14

Millican

Best For: adventure travelers

Price Range: $115-$200

Company Sustainable Ethics:

This English based company uses natural organic cotton, organic wool and vegetable-tanned leather. Recycled polyester and PET are also staples in their product development

Backpack Perks:

  • Heavy duty & waterproof canvases

  • Items are available in varying sizes depending on your needs

  • Their newer Maverick collection is created with Bionic® Canvas, which contains recycled plastics recovered from waterways & shorelines.

  • Classic neutral colors

  • Lifetime warranty

Millican Backpacks Pros/Cons:

Cons: they use leather

Pros: they are testing the use of vegan leathers & they are transparent with which textile specialists they partner with

 

15

Patagonia

Best For: multi-use versatility for outdoor types, school, work, or travel

Price Range: $50-$300

Company Sustainable Ethics: Patagonia has been a leader in sustainabile practices for decades. Not only are they leaders for promoting fair labor practices & safe working conditions throughout their entire supply chain, they use so many sustainable materials for every one of their items (backpacks and more!) Check them out here.

Backpack Perks:

  • Every item is multi-purpose & versatile
  • Their ironclad guarantee

Patagonia Backpacks Pros/Cons:

Pros: they’re a leader in sustainability, so many options to choose from & great for those who love the outdoors

16

Pinqponq

Best For: travelers who love versatility

Price Range: $175-$300

Company Sustainable EthicsEach Pinqpong backpack is made out of 43 recycled PET-bottles and treated with a PFC-free (an innovative, nature-inspired approach to achieving water repellency without requiring the use of perfluorocarbons) water & stain repellents to prevent toxic chemicals from being used in their supply chain.

They are totally transparent about their manufacturing production, and work with audited factories in Vietnam.

Pinqponq is also Bluesign® certified and a member of the Fair Wear Foundation

Backpack Perks:

  • PinqPonq Bags can transition into duffels
  • Laptop compartment
  • Removable & adjustable straps
  • Water & stain repellent
  • Made with vegan materials

Pinqpong Backpacks Pros/Cons:

Cons: the images of the bags make them look bulky (but I can’t speak from experience)

Pros: very transparent & continuing to improve their environmental footprint

 

17

Pixie Mood

Best For: stylish travelers with feminine flare, school

Price Range: $80-$100

Company Sustainable EthicsPixie Mood creates 100% cruelty free, vegan backpacks and also focuses on fair trade practices

Backpack Perks:

  • They have a wide range of sizes & styles

  • Bags are made with vegan leathers & suedes

Pixie Mood Backpacks Pros/Cons:

Cons: uses polyurethane; which is manufactured out of crude oil

Pros: vegan leather & vegan suede

18

Qwstion

Best For: work, daypacks

Price Range: $200-$350

Company Sustainable Ethics: Qwstion makes their bags using organically grown fibers such as high-density cotton canvas and Bananatex®, a fiber they make out of bananas, and vegetable-tanned leather among other high quality & sustainable materials. They also source directly and work in conjunction with their suppliers to ensure quality.

Backpack Perks:

  • Stylish design

  • Padded laptop compartment

  • Detachable handles, so can be worn as a backpack or a tote bag

  • Water resistant

Qwstion Backpacks Pros/Cons:

Cons: very expensive, use leather for their straps and lack of compartments in some bags.

 Pros: they use unique, sustainable materials for their bags & have excellent partnership with their suppliers to ensure quality

19

Rewilder

Best Fortravel, work & school

Price Range: $50-$120

Company Sustainable Ethics: Rewilder is comprised of a pair of women who use 100% salvaged, high-performance materials from various industries like the auto or beverage industries. Everything is collected & created in California so they’re not using fossil fuels on transportation.

Backpack Perks:

  • Every item is made with strong, durable material such as airbags & beer fiber cloths
  • PETA approved vegan
  • Laptop compartment

Rewilder Backpacks Pros/Cons:

All pros here!

Did you know that sustainable travel is more than carrying a reusable water bottle?

Learn what sustainable travel is here

20

Rust & Fray

Best For: stylish day packs

Price Range: $35-$300

Company Sustainable Ethics: Rust & Fray make their backpacks entirely out of upcycled materials that they source from manufacturing factories. They hunt for high quality pieces that would otherwise have been discarded and make them into one of a kind bags. They also partner with underprivileged individuals to help create the bags.

Backpack Perks:

  • Made entirely out of upcycled materials
  • Each bag is one of a kind piece

Rust & Fray Backpacks Pros/Cons:

Cons: their backpacks are not for long travels, but more for day time explorations

Pros: 100% upcycled materials

 

 

21

Sandqvist

Best For: frequent flyers & hikers

Price Range: $130-$400

Company Sustainable Ethics: From materials to factory conditions, Sandqvist has great sustainable ethics in their backpack production. They use organic cotton, which uses ZERO chemicals, farmed by small-scale farmers. And any synthetic materials are recycled from post-consumer waste. They ensure that farmers are paid good wages with good working conditions.

Sandqvist also proudly boasts their repair shop where you can send in any old item for repair or return for a secondhand sale & receive a 20% discount off of a new item!

Sandqvist is also a member of the Fair Wear Foundation.

Backpack Perks:

  • Rolltop & zip closures
  • Laptop compartment
  • Rugged & stylish

Sandqvist Backpacks Pros/Cons:

Cons: leather is used for some trimmings on a few items & some bags are quite expensive if you are a budget traveler

Pros: repair shop to ensure your item lasts for a long time, no chemical use on their natural materials & support workers conditions & fair wages

22

Solgaard

Best For: frequent travelers as a carry on backpack

Price Range: $115-$180

Company Sustainable Ethics: Solgaard has upped their sustainability efforts with a pledge to pull 1 million pounds of plastic waste from our oceans by the end of 2020 – for each item sold they pull 5lbs of plastic, and do so by partnering with The Plastic Bank.

Plus each backpack is made from upcycled plastic!

Backpack Perks:

  • Solar powered charger for your phone
  • Anti-theft lock
  • Secret compartments for important items (passport, money)
  • Drop-proof laptop sleeve

Solgaard Backpacks Pros/Cons:

Honestly, all I can find are pro’s with Solgaard

 

 

23

Tentree (Mobius Backpack)

Best For: carry on backpack, hikers & adventure travelers

Price Range: $118

Company Sustainable Ethics: The name says it all, Tentree plants ten trees for every item purchased! The Mobius backpack is made almost entirely out of recycled materials such as recycled polyester, algae, and plastic bottles

Backpack Perks:

  • Made with 31 recycled plastic bottles

  • Can be configured into 3 different size capacities

  • 4 way zipper allows for easy access to any pocket

  • Padded front pocket for electronics

  • Additional smaller compartments

Tentree Backpacks Pros/Cons:

Cons: non-recyclable packaging & no basic colors for this backpack

Pros:  very versatile, bag durability & great for the environment since they help to plant so many trees

24

Timbuk2

Best For: work, travelers or weekend getaways

Price Range: $99-$250

Company Sustainable Ethics: Timbuk2 is another brand known for durability in their backpacks. This San Francisco local company uses only Bluesign® certified mills to source their materials.

They also support their own repair shop where customers can send their damaged (from use) items to, or DIYers can purchase spare parts to fix it themselves.

Timbuk2 has also partnered with The Renewal Workshop for unusable bags to be donated to

Backpack Perks:

  • Lots of styles of backpack to choose from
  • Many backpacks are versatile in use
  • Multiple compartments
  • Padded laptop sleeves
  • Lifetime warranty

Timbuk2 Backpacks Pros/Cons:

all Pros here!

25

United by Blue

Best For: adventure travelers

Price Range: $32-$180

Company Sustainable EthicsBased in my hometown city of Philadelphia (although kind of, not really, because I was raised in the suburbs outside of Philly), United by Blue is working diligently to clean up our oceans & waterways. They host cleanups throughout the country and educate their customers on the negatives of single use plastics.

For each item purchased they remove one pound of trash from waterways. Each backpack is made sustainably using recycled polyester, organic cotton and bison (*I’m guessing the Bison is the hide from the animal. The company states that “Repurposes the ranching industry’s unused – and often discarded- materials”). United by Blue is also a Certified B Corporation.

Backpack Perks:

  • Laptop sleeve
  • Multiple pockets for organized storage
  • Many backpacks convert to totes
  • Water repellent
  • Lifetime guarantee

United by Blue Backpacks Pros/Cons:

Cons: they use leather for their straps

Pros: strong effort to help the environment

26

WAYKS

Best For: frequent travelers looking for a stellar carry on backpack

Price Range: $200-$285

Company Sustainable Ethics: WAYKS has the most thought out travel backpack that I have seen. Combine that with their sustainability efforts & you have a top contender for best sustainable travel backpack. They partner with a manufacturing company that utilizes Bluesign® and they are a member of the Fair Wear Foundation. Their backpacks are made out of recycled PET and are PFC free!

Backpack Perks:

  • Versatile bags, thoughtfully designed

  • Removable back padding

  • Roll top closures

  • Internal organizers

  • Side zipper for easier access to your laptop

  • Multiple compartments

WAYKS Backpacks Pros/Cons:

Cons: price is a bit high for many budget travelers, with no lifetime guarantee

Pros:  they focus on creating durable AND versatile products so that they don’t have to over produce anything & are a member of Fair Wear Foundation

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES & FACTS & DEFINITIONS

If you saw a term or phrase that you didn’t understand, read below for definitions, links & stats about producing sustainable products.

*Using recycled polyester, instead of virgin polyester, cuts energy by 50%, saves 20% on water & reduces air pollution by 60%. Recyled Polyester is typically made out of plastic bottles.

 

*Less than 5% of plastics produced are recycled, which is why it’s important to support brands that utilize recycled materials

 

*Textile dyeing & treatment contributes up to 20% of industrial water pollution (much of which happens in third world countries

 

*8 million tons of plastic enter our oceans each year. With plastic bottles making up 1.5 million of those tons annually

 

*Negatives of Crude Oil (for polyurethane) is that it has been known to have harmfully toxic effects on the body

 

Bluesign® defines the standard for environmentally friendly and sustainable materials.

Fair Wear Foundation is an independent multi stakeholder organisation that works with garment brands, garment workers and industry influencers to improve labour conditions in garment factories

GOTS certified  is a textile production certification that limits the use of toxic bleaches, dyes and other chemical inputs during the production process of textiles. It is internationally recognized as the toughest organic textile standard because it goes far beyond verifying the organic farming process to include every step of manufacturing.

Recycled PET– PET is polyethylene terephthalate (gotta love a long, scientific word… and it’s acronym), and is used in almost every ‘recyclable’ item. It’s easily recycled, so it can be used again & again to make new products.

PFC free– PFC stands for Perfluorocarbons, and is often what is used to create water repellent materials. It’s been linked to major health issues. So a product that is PFC free is a good thing.

 

Made Trade

Made Trade curates the most exceptionally designed, ethically-sourced goods from artisans and makers around the world. They hand select only the best fair trade, sustainable, USA made, vegan and heritage products. They carry backpacks from brands like Nisolo, Svala, and Alchemy Goods.

You can find more easy to do sustainable travel tips and travel guides here OR subscribe below to receive a monthly newsletter with travel updates!

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Easiest Sustainable Travel Tips

Easiest Sustainable Travel Tips

Sustainable Travel

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Ready for the top 12 EASIEST sustainable travel tips?

        We’ve all heard the term of sustainability, and we’ve all seen the images of the burning Amazon rainforests, plastic-filled oceans and abuse towards animal videos.

        The turning point in all of this comes from your acknowledgment that it exists to actively doing something about it.

        There is a sliding scale for sustainable travel, and I don’t expect anyone to ‘cold turkey’ change their lifestyle. So to start I’ve put together my easiest and most useful tips and tricks for you. These will help you on your path to making a difference in the world.

Top 12 EASIEST Sustainable Travel Tips & Tricks

(1) Research!

This is so so simple to do. You don’t need to research every small detail about the destination, but you can easily research:

  • Which hotels have sustainable policies
  • How to get from the airport to your lodging using public transportation
  • The best local eateries
  • If the destination isn’t vegetarian-friendly or readily acceptable of your preferred diet needs (so you know you need to pack some healthy snacks)

By doing research, you are ensuring that when you arrive you are prepared and not resorting to less sustainable methods. Because if you’re jetlagged, you’ll be more likely to go the lazier route, which trust me, is rarely a fun, or affordable option.

(2) Don’t Litter

I don’t think this needs a further explanation, other than don’t be that a**hole who lazily let’s go of their garbage when walking around. Feel free to go one step further and pick up garbage if you see it to bring to a waste bin.

(3) Be Prepared

Always carry with you a reusable water bottle & cloth bags with you. This way you won’t need to purchase plastic water bottles or use the plastic bags so many vendors use worldwide.

(4) Avoid purchasing or eating unique species of animals

For example: crocodile handbags, kangaroo steaks.

While it may sound cool, most of the time these ‘local delicacies’ are born out of tourism and aren’t actually foods that locals are eating. And you never know (1) what conditions the animals are raised in for consumption and/or (2) if the hunting of these creatures is leading to extinction.

(5) Eat Locally

While Subways and McDonald’s can be quite convenient for travelers, they are also major polluters. By eating locally, you’ll be enjoying food that is much fresher and have an authentic travel experience, all while helping the environment and the local economy.

Did you know that sustainable travel is more than carrying a reusable water bottle? Learn what sustainable travel is here]

(6) Purchase Locally

This can mean purchasing local groceries at farmers markets or souvenirs that are handmade by locals. By doing this you’re supporting the local economy and avoiding mass-produced, poorly managed exports that are bad for the environment.

(7) Take Public Transportation

Public transportation is great because as a traveler you can learn about the destination even more. It’s also a challenge that every traveler should experience. You can learn a lot about a place by its public transportation system. Bonus is that it saves you a ton of money. 

You can also WALK! Not only is this a stellar way to keep in shape while traveling, walking helps eliminate transportation carbon emissions. Plus you’ll see so much more of your destination than you would from a car.

(8) Ask Questions

A wonderful aspect of traveling is learning something new. Whether it be about the destinations history or a local custom, like how to order at a coffee shop. Being inquisitive shows that you are respecting the place you are visiting.

*Another great way you can ask questions is asking your hotel staff what their plastic use, water, and food waste policies are. Being a curious traveler at the very least plants the seeds of these issues, which can provoke change. I’ll often leave these questions in my end of stay review or surveys.

(9) Offest your Flights Carbon Emissions

For every plane, you board there are carbon emissions that coincide with your flight. You can cheaply and proactively offset your carbon emissions to reputable groups that use the funds to help the environment in other ways. You can check my favorite places to do this here.

(10) Lose the Weight

I don’t mean your body weight, you’re beautiful just the way you are 🙂 What I mean is pack less. Packing less lightens the load on airplanes and energy in taxis (if you take one) which leads to lower fuel usage. Plus you’ll save money on luggage fees and won’t need to strain yourself lugging around heavy suitcases.

 

(11) Connect with Locals through Experiences & Excursions

There are so many fun excursions you can do and what better way to do them than with a local who knows the hidden gems of your destination and can answer any of your questions. You’re also most likely helping support them by giving the money directly back to them. You find great ideas with Walks and AirBnb Experiences.

 

(12) Raise the Bar

Hold yourself to a higher standard and be the most respectable version of yourself when you travel. I say this as an American, but multiple times I have had people from other countries quietly ask me if all Americans are the same; using not-so-great words like pompous and arrogant… and if we all wear cowboy hats and eat cheeseburgers every day.

Our international image is not the best, unfortunately, but you can be the person who changes someone’s negative preformed ideas to positive remembrances based on the way you carry yourself and how you respect the place and people you are visiting.

 

You can find more easy to do sustainable travel tips and travel guides here OR subscribe below to receive a monthly newsletter with travel updates!

Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog