As avid travelers, we at Sherpani are always looking forward to our next destination. Every Tuesday, we celebrate this notion with a “Travel Tuesday” blog post. This week, we wanted to mix it up. Instead of looking ahead to where our Sherpani bags will go next, we wanted to reflect instead, on where they’ve been, or more accurately, what they used to be.
Sherpani has a proud history of creating beautiful bags from recycled materials. We are known for turning plastic bottles into functional bags that are ready for any adventure. This is our solution to an environmental problem that speaks to us; the pervasive problem of plastic in our world’s oceans.
It’s hard to have a conversation about sustainability without mentioning plastic. Chances are you’re already taking action on the matter. If you carry a reusable water bottle or you’ve declined a straw at a restaurant, you know exactly what we’re talking about. These small, everyday choices can cause a ripple effect. Eventually, they influence larger trends that are adopted by the market at large. Among these daily efforts is the choice to shop sustainably. Sherpani is proud to be a sustainable brand that you can support with confidence.
Based in Boulder, Colorado, we are far removed from the closest coastline. So where did our resolve to fight ocean plastics come from? Well, we did mention we love to travel.
Sherpani founders Ed and Maria have a passion for sailing. More than a decade ago, their family took a vacation sailing in the Bahamas. While exploring the remote islands, they made a shocking discovery: you can get away from people, but you can’t get away from plastic.
Maria and Ed aren’t the only team members who have witnessed plastic pollution firsthand. We’ve run into the stuff while scuba diving in the Philippines, fishing in Alaska and cruising down the Nile. It really is everywhere. From the Great Pacific Garbage Patch to the microplastics that threaten even the most remote reefs, Sherpani was compelled to become part of the solution to removing plastic waste from our oceans and waterways.
To date, Sherpani has repurposed more than 4.2 million plastic bottles through the manufacturing of our products. The bottles are broken down into flakes, then spun into yarn. The yarn is treated with non-toxic dye that creates the standout colors that have become a staple of the Sherpani style. The result is a sustainably produced, artfully designed Sherpani bag.
Did you know that while you browse our website, you can see how many plastic bottles an individual product has diverted from landfills and waterways? It’s true, it’s right here:
We love this sustainable shopping feature. Why not keep track of how many bottles your personal Sherpani collection has saved? As an office of just a few women, we are easily in the thousands. Witnessing firsthand how small actions can snowball into big results.
Though every bottle saved is a win, some Sherpani designs require more bottles than others. Unsurprisingly, the larger the product is, the more plastic it requires. This is where the Sherpani luggage shines! Check out their impressive bottle counts:
Type of luggage: Rolling duffle
Number of bottles diverted from landfills: 50
Type of luggage: Carry-on suitcase
Number of bottles diverted from landfills: 50
While diverting from landfills is certainly important, we wanted to have a more focused solution for fighting ocean plastic. So the Open Your Eyes Collection was born.
Open Your Eyes is an activist collection designed to draw more attention to the problem of plastic in our oceans. Each bag features the name of the collection alongside nature graphics depicting mountains, a wave and a pine tree; connecting Sherpani’s alpine heritage to our passion for ocean protection.
Every bottle used in the Open Your Eyes Collection was picked up directly from the ocean or shoreline. Sherpani ensures this by working with REPREVE, a company with the special ability to trace the plastic from bottle to bag. This is a difficult and expensive process, but that’s never stopped us before. We understand that maintaining sustainable business practices takes a little extra effort, and consider this a small price to pay for cleaner oceans.
In 2018, Sherpani accepted the All-In Champions of Sustainability award from REPREVE. It was an honor to receive this award from the industry leader in sustainable materials.
We can't write a post about ocean plastics without mentioning the Blue Verve Project. Another of Sherpani’s passion projects, Blue Verve Project started as an internal promise about our high standards for sustainability. Before long, we created a public space to speak about this core Sherpani principle.
The Blue Verve Project includes a resource library of scientific articles on the topic of plastic pollution and an FAQ page about ocean plastics. We want to empower our community to educate themselves on the plastic problem.
In our long history of working with recycled material, we’ve had plenty of time to get overwhelmed by environmental problems at large. We know we aren’t alone in this struggle, so here are a few tips for staying afloat:
- Avoid unrealistic goals. Perfection is paralyzing and ultimately sets us up to fail. Becoming a zero-waste human by tomorrow probably isn’t possible, but buying a reusable water bottle is. Small, everyday actions are the trick.
- Stay connected to good environmental news too. We have seen our fair share of doomsday headlines. Don’t get trapped in the hopeless void of negative media. Tangible progress is made every day in the world of sustainability. Do you follow Sam Bentley on Instagram? Consider this your sign. (@sambentley)
- Stay flexible. Environmental science is not new, but we view it through new lenses all the time. We must understand that these issues are complex. Allow yourself to receive and release information as needed. Treat yourself (and others) with patience as you navigate multifaceted environmental topics.
By creating bags from recycled material, Sherpani is committed to giving a second life to single-use plastics. Every day, we chip away at the plastic problem that threatens our environment. We will continue to take initiative through avenues like our Open Your Eyes Collection and the Blue Verve Project. Sherpani is paving a sustainable path forward.
Someday, we will sail on clear blue, plastic-free water again.