Nearly four years ago, when embarking on our first big adventure with a baby in tow, James and I spent considerable time researching simple, minimalist luggage that we hoped would best help us get from point A to point B with maximum ease and minimum struggle. Together we chose two TOM BIHN bags—the Aeronaut 30 and the Aeronaut 45—to tote on our backs as we also toted a baby across the country and across the Atlantic Ocean, and over the river and through the woods to the grandparents’ house on more Metro North train rides than I could possibly count.
Today, our four-year-old bags look precisely as fresh as they did on the first day that they arrived (more than you could say for us, to be sure). No matter how many times we’ve hoisted these bags into overhead compartments and luggage racks, or squished them into crowded subways cars or the backs of taxis, or seen them serve as lumpy make-shift mattresses for two travel-weary kids, we haven’t dealt with so much as a single snag, or stain, or stuck zipper.
There are a lot of ways to measure the sustainability of the products we all might come across in the course of a lifetime; a million metrics we can use to measure their approximate impact on people or places. But time and again, longevity comes first on my personal list of requirements. So often, the most sustainable object any of us can hope for is the object that lasts, the object that continues to function, just as it was designed to do, for years upon years without worry or irreparable wear.
TOM BIHN nailed the longevity factor long ago, and this fall, they’ve taken additional steps to expand their sustainability goals, most recently by joining the growing network of businesses and individuals working with 1% for the Planet. With the help of that organization, they donate the equivalent of 1% of gross sales directly to environmental nonprofits. To date, 1% for the Planet members have invested over $225 million in environmental nonprofit solutions. TOM BIHN is contributing its own 1% to two different nonprofit partners this year: Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, an organization committed to helping those who enjoy the natural world to also minimize their impact there, and WildEarth Guardians, an organization working across the American West to protect and restore its wildlife, wild places, wild rivers, and health.
In addition to becoming a member of 1% for the Planet, TOM BIHN has also officially become a certified B-Corp—a certification that measures a company’s social and environmental performance by evaluating how their operations and business model impacts their workers, community, environment, and customers. Other efforts toward sustainability include the company starting production using its first ever fabric made from recycled materials—a 630 denier nylon made from 50% pre-consumer recycled materials. (It’s the fabric used in the trio of Ghost Whale Organizer Pouches shown above!) In addition to producing new bags with recycled fabrics, TOM BIHN also donates free materials—selvedge and fabric scraps—to folks who can put them to good use and purchases carbon offsets from nonprofit partner Bonneville Environmental Foundation to compensate for the carbon footprint of production and shipping.
TOM BIHN CEO, Darcy Gray, explains the company’s ongoing efforts toward social and environmental progress this way: “We’re bag experts, not social or environmental experts, but we are doing our best to educate ourselves. Joining 1% for the Planet was a pivotal step in that process, and learning about and connecting with various environmental nonprofits and efforts that we’ve long admired has been meaningful for us. Our hope is that we can share modest examples of what a small business like ours can do and continue to learn more from other businesses, nonprofits, and our customers.”
This post is sponsored by TOM BIHN in celebration of their membership with1% for the Planet and the launch of their first bags made from recycled fabrics. Thanks so much for supporting the brands that support this site.