The recycled luggage that also fights for clean water

Thomas Jackson

From the Extinction Rebellion protests, to individual champions and sustainable initiatives launched by international brands, it’s safe to say that environmentalism turned a notable page in 2019. Across the globe, people are waking up to the fact that plastics don’t simply disappear when cast into a bin, but end up polluting our oceans for hundreds of years to come. The ignorance is bliss mentality no longer pertains.

In December 2019, WIRED teamed up with premium American luggage brand TUMI and Waves 4 Water, a guerrilla humanitarian organisation dedicated to providing clean water to everyone who needs it, to host a reader event at Tumi’s Regent Street store in London. With an expert panel including Damien Mignot (TUMI’s Europe General Manager), Jenica Dizon (W4W’s Philippines Operations Director), Gwilym Pugh (influencer, adventurer and model) and WIRED’s Executive Editor Jeremy White, discussions were centered on sustainability, the future of travel and how brands like TUMI can do their part to be more socially responsible and safeguard the planet for future generations.

Even though it’s possible to get lost in the white noise of the sustainability conversation, taking actual steps to be more sustainable is something TUMI is serious about. Initiatives such as the Recycled capsule collection, where fabrics used to make the luggage were sourced from post-industrial recycled nylon and post-consumer recycled PET bottles, meant that 169,000 bottles were diverted from landfill. Not only that, but it’s communicating a message to consumers that durable, high-quality luggage and recycled source materials aren’t mutually exclusive.

TUMI also joined the global organisation 1% for the Planet, committing to donate one per cent of all profits from the collection to W4W’s efforts to reduce the risk of waterborne illnesses including Cholera, Salmonella and Typhoid. Since partnering in 2016, TUMI and W4W have worked on more than ten projects, implementing 10,443 water filtration systems, 28 rain catchment systems and 12 wells – impacting an estimated 500,000 people around the world. The TUMI Crew project also saw a select group of social-media influencers visit Nepal and Langrug in South Africa to deploy over 100 filtration systems in vulnerable communities.

Having conversations about our ecological footprints helps disseminate the idea of a new normal – it’s sustainability borne not just out of obligation, but a sincere desire to see change. While there’s a way to go, TUMI’s efforts help to set a precedent. The ecological challenges we face are obvious, but these initiatives also allow us to see the very real solutions in 2020 vision.

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