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Because You Asked

How Should I Dispose of Broken Luggage?

By Recyclebank |
Holiday travel may take a toll on your old suitcases, but don’t give up on them yet. With some creativity, they can still be useful.

Dear Recyclebank: What is the best way to dispose of, or repurpose, broken luggage? –Rachel G.

Dear Rachel:
Years of travelling can take a toll on your suitcases, no matter how well constructed they are. This wear and tear can become especially noticeable around the holidays — after numerous trips to see loved ones, you just may find yourself with an unusable bag that’s beyond repair.

Reusing the luggage for yourself is the best option since you can delay the need to recycle it, and there are plenty of ways to incorporate it into your life at home. One straight-forward solution is storage. An attractive suitcase is more visually appealing than a cardboard box and doesn’t need to zip properly to keep your summer clothes safe in the closet. Other crafty ideas include a set of “drawers,” cute beds for your pets, and even stylish chairs. If you have DIY skills (or the willingness to learn and experiment), you can construct all sorts of useful things from your old luggage and keep it from going to waste. Check out Pinterest for more possibilities.

When your luggage is way past its expiration date and can’t be used at home anymore, it’s time to consider your recycling options. While you can’t throw a giant piece of luggage in your curbside recycling bin as-is, suitcases and other bags often contain useful material that can be recycled. Between fabric, metal zippers, plastic handles, and rubber wheels, different components can be given new life if properly separated. If you feel comfortable disassembling the separate parts, feel free to separate the bag into more easily recyclable bits. This route will take some research, though, as you’ll need to confirm that all the materials you salvage are accepted by your local facility, and in that form.

If you’re not comfortable acting as a luggage surgeon, you may be able to recycle your suitcase without taking it apart first. Many cities have special curbside recycling pickup for large items, whether it’s a designated day set by the city or a date set by you, by contacting the handler directly. If this is an option in your area, it’s worth investigating. Another convenient way to send luggage in for recycling is to order the appropriate Zero Waste Box from TerraCycle. However, as this is a relatively expensive option, you may want to work with your friends and family to gather all of your old bags and fund a box purchase together.
Of course, if you're luggage isn't unusable, consider donating it. Beyond Goodwill, you may want to look into donating to shelters, or check out Suitcases For Kids, which helps get suitcases to foster children, who may move often. And as you plan your travel, keep your eyes peeled — travel agencies sometimes run luggage drives, too.

Have you found any creative ways to give your old luggage new life? We’d love to hear about them in the comments.
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  • Barbara W. 28 days ago
    To all my friends here, Happy Easter, Christ has Risen!
  • Steven S. 1 month ago
    Posted Tuesday, April 12, 2022
  • michele b. 1 month ago
    The old hard (samsonite) luggage pieces I've seen people make shelves out of them they were so dang cute
    • Laurel L. 1 month ago
      This sounds really neat! I'm going to search the interwebs to find pictures because I'd really love to see this creativity. Thanks for sharing!
  • Peg R. 1 month ago
    After several emails beginning in January, I finally heard back from Recyclebank about the two magazines I ordered mid-January. They told me those magazines are no longer available but they gave me my points back. I was able to order another magazine yesterday and received the code so hopefully I'll get that one. Funny thing is I received a second email asking how satisfied I was with Recyclebank's response. I told them it took way too long to hear back from anyone.
    • Barbara W. 1 month ago
      Peg, I have a similar problem with the 3 Magazines I ordered on Feb10th.
      ( for friends). It shows that the expiration date IS still good.
      It shows the order was complete BUT I did not get a confirmation in my email as they have done in the past!

      *DID you get a confirmation in your email when you ordered it in Jan?
      *Which email address did you use to contact them?
      ( it seems to be changing)
    • Peg R. 1 month ago
      I never got a confirmation email when I ordered the magazines in January but immediately received one for the magazine I just ordered. I sent emails to several different addresses that others here have suggested but the one I finally got a reply from was
    • Barbara W. 1 month ago
      Thank you Peg, I will try it!
  • Barbara W. 2 months ago
    In past comments, I have promoted suitcases for the homeless and their children.
    I would like to also add for refugees. These situations are so sad.
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