Can bags be made from recycled materials? Or, perhaps more importantly, can you combine saving the planet with visiting it?
Although it’s known to broaden the mind, it’s a concern for some of us that travel is driven by resources that are not everlasting. A company in Holland is making recycled travel bags to help reuse some of those resources, and from an unlikely material. The company, Kazmok, creates great looking and tough travel bags and accessories from - believe it or not - recycled conveyor belts.
There is a weird symmetry to picking up such a bag at the airport luggage claim from a conveyor belt. But more than this, the bags are very green. It’s one of the most responsible things you can do, reusing already made materials to make new products. This technique has recently been dubbed “upcycling”, making new and better products from recycled materials.
Recycling spreads the cost of making the bag and saves the valuable resources that go into producing the original material. Upcycling does this but also adds value and charm to really mundane objects and turns them into something beautiful.
Pure Luggage Genius
It’s a fantastically clever idea, being both green and practical. The original conveyor belts are made of a very tough reinforced rubber for flexibility and strength. To make such a material from scratch is very costly in natural resources, including electricity and the fuel you literally have to burn to get that.
Once the belts have worked their useful life disposing of them is costly, and the belts are not biodegradable. So what do you do? Kazmok’s innovative solution solves both problems at once, hand making what could be costly and environmentally inconvenient trash into something beautiful and useful. The scars and blemishes the belts earned during their working life aren't flaws. Instead, they mean that each bag is unique, an original.
The belts which are made into these great bags are sourced from many places; the flower industry, the postal service and distribution and trucking companies. Also, in another twist, some are even sourced from the recycling industry itself. Supposedly there is some symbolism in the ideas about our throwaway society, but the fact is the bags are good looking and sturdy additions to any traveler’s luggage rack.
Upcycled Travel Goods
We’ve all heard about recycling, and that’s what you think of when talking about a greener lifestyle, but what about upcycling? How can it provide you with greener alternatives to practical products?
Upcycled products can be not only practical but also beautiful. On the practical side you have the Alchemy Goods messenger bag made from recycled bike tires. This originated when the inventor Eli Reich had his messenger bag stolen and he needed a replacement. His solution was unusual - he made a new bag by opening up old tire inner tubes and sewing them together into a new bag.
Alchemy Goods from Chris McElroy on Vimeo.
It wasn’t his intention to start a company, but he discovered that people loved both the bags and the idea that something good looking and hard wearing could also be a recycled product. Now the company has branched out into other travel necessities like passport holders, wash bags and a range of device cases.
If you find yourself in Berlin you can buy even more upcycled travel goods. German upcycled fashion store Aluc was the brainchild of Berlin residents Carina Bischof, Arienna Nicoletti, Luise Barsch and Jonathan Leupert. The idea was to make true fashion from recycled materials, and to involve respected designers in the process.
The clothes and accessories they make are stylish, surprising and as with all upcycled items, bear unique physical scars and quirks from their previous life. All upcycled products are hand made, by necessity, and so are always custom built and individual.
When you are next in Berlin and you want to browse the store, it can be found at 17 Anklamer Strasse.
Being Green in Comfort
There is a school of thought that says in order to be green and socially responsible you have to suffer. Recycling is perceived as a money saving exercise, a chore and not really a process that can be enjoyed. But it’s possible to live very well, surrounded by beautiful things and still be using the Earths resources wisely.
With the help of clever designers and inventors we can all use attractive but practical, super hardwearing travel goods and clothing that really do give something back.