Travel green in style
So you've booked your flight. Now all you have to do is pack. Just like everything else these days, luggage is breaking into the environmentally-friendly market.
So you’ve booked your flight and your hotel, renewed your passport, and exchanged your money. Now all you have to do is pack.
Just like everything else these days, luggage is breaking into the eco-friendly market. But how do you choose which luggage is the most eco-friendly option for you? Vacations are for de-stressing, so don’t stress about your luggage. We’ve got the information you need to green up your travels.
What’s in the bag?
Prior to the hype about eco-friendly materials, most luggage was made in a way that negatively impacted our environment—and subsequently, our health.
Many standard pieces of luggage are made with toxic chemicals such as chromium and polyvinyl chloride (PVC), used to make luggage more durable.
When used in the manufacturing process, chromium can seep into soil and eventually groundwater. If ingested, this chemical can cause cancer—remember Erin Brockovich?
PVC, one of the most common plastics, has been linked to cancer, hormone disruption, impaired normal child development, suppressed immune system, birth defects, and brain damage.
Nowadays you can choose not to purchase products that have been manufactured with toxic chemicals or that produce toxic byproducts. Instead choose products made with the following materials.
Stronger than any other plant fibre, hemp can be grown nearly everywhere without the need for pesticides. Longer, stronger, and more mildew resistant than cotton fibres, hemp is tough enough to withstand the rough handling of airline luggage carriers.
This versatile material made from recycled polyester fabrics and plastic bottles is great for any traveller’s needs. However, polyester itself is not a natural material and so the recycling process may still create toxic byproducts.
For a durable, hard-cased piece of luggage, choose something made of recycled plastic. Waterproof, protective, and sleek, a recycled plastic piece of luggage is ideal for the travelling professional.
Although an animal product and thus not a very green choice, leather is known for its incredible durability. If you swear by the lasting power of leather, choose bags made of recycled leather.
Keep in mind that products made from recycled and renewable materials still require a significant amount of energy to produce. So if you already have functional luggage at home, don’t run out and buy new bags for the sake of the environment—using what you already have is the most eco-friendly choice.
The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) has a growing list of items permitted and not permitted in your luggage. For a complete list of items go to catsa-acsta.gc.ca.
The buzz on batteries
All spare batteries must be transported in your carry-on. A maximum of two loose batteries may be carried at one time; however, if the batteries are in the original packaging you may carry more. Loose batteries must be individually protected so as to prevent short circuits.
In January 2010 the Government of Canada ordered 44 millimetre-wave scanners to be installed in airports across the country. These scanners have raised concerns about human safety.
Millimetre-wave scanners project low-level radio frequency energy around the passenger’s body. The waves are reflected off the passenger to produce a three-dimensional image, revealing hidden objects concealed on the passenger’s body. According to Health Canada, these units give off only 1/10,000th the energy of a cell phone and are completely safe for passengers.
X-ray scanners emit low-level X-rays that reflect back to create an image much like the millimetre-wave scanners. These, too, have been deemed safe by the Government of Canada; however, they are not present in any Canadian airports.