Photo credit: Eden Pontz / Discovery TravelingMom

Photo credit: Eden Pontz / Discovery TravelingMom

Many families strive for the luxury of travel vacations but sometimes we do so without thinking about potential impact the travel may have on the environment. Here are some eco-conscious travel-related products that have done some traveling of their own before being recycled or “upcycled” into clever items for your family to enjoy and use– again.

Transforming Trash into Toys and Art

It’s impossible not to take a second glance at the brightly colored safari animals created by the artisans at “Ocean Sole.” The company and foundation was started to help the environment and “teach the world about the threats of marine debris,” after founders discovered the “bizarre and yet very real phenomenon,” of thousands of flipflops washing up on the beaches and waterways of Kenya.

Photo credit: Eden Pontz / Discovery TravelingMom

Photo credit: Eden Pontz / Discovery TravelingMom

The flipflops’ rubber soles are melted down and re-created into a rainbow of lightweight animal sculptures including elephants, giraffes, warthogs and more—with the smaller ones acting as toy figurines, and the larger ones as potential fine art for your home-while also getting proceeds back to those in need.

In addition to being sold at Manhattan’s Pylones (located just next door to New York’s Radio City Music Hall), the company has a list of distributors on its website.

That’s Remarkable Recycled Products

As an eco-manufacturing company based in the United Kingdom, “Remarkable,” is driven by the “passion and belief that the environment needs to be treated with care.” From stationary, to small bags and travel essentials, you may find, for instance,  a small, colorful journal or notebook that shares, “I used to be a juice carton,” on the front

Photo credit: Eden Pontz / Discovery TravelingMom

Photo credit: Eden Pontz / Discovery TravelingMom

cover, and which explains the recycled material within the innovative design.

Upcycle Your Inner Tubes

The folks at Alchemy Goods in Seattle explain their products with the philosophy of “upcycling,” which is different from recycling. “Recycling turns stuff into the same thing over and over again. Upcycling turns something of lesser value into something of greater value,” according to the company website and it’s founder Eli Reich.

In this case, a stolen messenger bag lead to the inception of blown-out bicycle inner tubes, truck tubes, old seatbelts and advertising banners to be turned into “useful” travel products such as travel bags, shoulder bags and wallets. To see them in person, it’s impossible to guess that the products were upcycled, and their texture does not necessarily give away their origins.

According to the company website, all REI bike shops and some Trek shops participate in an inner tube recycling program with AG.

A Billboard becomes a Bag

Relan has designed a dopp kit (travel/toiletries bag) for men that’s made from repurposed billboard vinyl—a material that’s water resistant (making clean-up easier). The zipper and

Photo credit: Eden Pontz / Discovery TravelingMom

Photo credit: Eden Pontz / Discovery TravelingMom

wide opening allows room for shaving cream and razor plus more.

The Minnesota-based company describes itself as a mother-daughter run, small business and is certified by the Women’s Business Enterprise.

Is it Magic?

For those who can’t do without their morning, afternoon or evening coffee, the Aladdin Sustain Recycled travel mug is both recycled and recyclable. Advertised as both dishwasher and microwave safe, it’s made from between 97 and 100 percent recycled food grade polypropylene. It’s got a leak-resistant lid (not leak-proof), and fits into car cup holders. Although some I know who’ve used it say it doesn’t keep liquids warm as long as they may prefer, for the price (between $5.99 and 9.99 depending on where you purchase) you can always change your mind and recycle it once again!