While many hotels and restaurants, and even entire countries, have done away with single-use plastics, airlines remain behind the times, wrapping everything from blankets to dishes in sheets of the stuff. Airline amenity kits, however, are one area where carriers are starting to ditch harmful plastic. These ever-more-luxe toiletry sets handed out to premium passengers don't just keep plastic out of landfills, but some of them help airlines save fuel, too.
Here are some of the most stylish and eco-friendly amenity kits in the skies today, and the high-end goodies travelers will find inside.
Virgin AtlanticThe socially conscious U.K. carrier just premiered perhaps the most environmentally friendly amenity kits in the skies today with the launch of its new Airbus A350-1000 flights in September. Dubbed “Goodie Bags,” the new Upper Class and premium-economy kits are constructed from recycled kraft paper, which is durable and water-resistant, and has less than half the carbon footprint of plastic. Eschewing plastic altogether, Goodie Bags contain compostable @Bambuubrush toothbrushes with bamboo handles and activated charcoal-infused bristles. There are also pens made from kraft paper, and all-natural REN Clean skincare products, which are vegan and use recycled and recyclable packaging. The airline estimates that by switching from its old amenity kits to the new ones, it will avoid 74 tons of carbon dioxide emissions and save 945 tons of plastic per year—more than the weight of six Airbus A350s, according to the airline.
FinnairIn March, Finnair released a new line of Marimekko amenity kits featuring four vintage 1960s designs by the fashion house’s longtime style director, Maija Isola. Kits are wrapped with cardboard bands rather than plastic, and customers can scan a QR code to learn more about the specific patterns on their exteriors. Inside, the airline has replaced plastic wrappers with wax paper and swapped out plastic toothbrushes for ones made from cornstarch bio-plastic. Passengers can also enjoy organic Swedish L:ABruket skincare products, including almond-coconut lip cream and chamomile-lavender moisturizer. Even the slippers passed out to business-class passengers are made from recycled PET plastic bottles. The airline estimates these incremental changes will reduce its plastic waste by nearly 10,000 pounds per year.
Air Tahiti NuiFrench Polynesia’s flag carrier began handing out new amenity kits last year, not just in its Poerava business class, but also premium economy. The design of the business kits, which are made from sustainably produced felt, was inspired by traditional Polynesian tattoo art. Their contents include toothbrushes created from cornstarch, bamboo fiber socks, organic cotton eye masks, and a range of all-natural skincare products from island brand Heiva, including face and hand creams and lip balm. The brightly colored premium-economy kits are constructed from recycled plastics. Both are designed to be reused—the larger business kit for holding items such as cosmetics, and the premium-economy one to hold a passport, for example.
IcelandairIcelandair may name its planes after volcanoes, but its new amenity kits pay homage to the country’s fauna and are a step toward protecting Iceland’s unique landscapes. Created by design firm WESSCO International and named the “Dýralíf” collection, which means “wildlife,” the four new kits are each inspired by a different indigenous animal: the puffin, arctic fox, Icelandic horse, and raven. All are made from sustainable materials including vegan leather, recycled canvas, and felt created from recycled plastic bottles. The articles within are wrapped in paper rather than plastic, and passengers will find things like biodegradable, cornstarch-based toothbrushes and socks made from recycled materials, not to mention cards with fun facts about each animal. Also inside? Handcrafted products from family-owned skincare company Hannes Dóttir, including all-natural vegan lip balm, hand lotion infused with laminaria kelp, and soothing mineral mist. Kits are doled out to passengers flying Saga Premium class between Iceland and North America, but you can also purchase them through the airline’s online Saga Shop.
DeltaDelta unveiled updated TUMI business-class amenity kits in June that, along with new products from fragrance house LE LABO, jettisoned single-use plastic. The kits themselves are no longer wrapped in the stuff. Nor are the individual items inside, such as toothbrushes and toothpaste, and the LE LABO products come in paper pouches. The airline says the move will divert 30,951 pounds of plastic from landfills—equivalent to the weight of one of its CRJ-200 regional jets—in just a single year. In September, Delta also forged a new partnership with sock company Bombas. For each pair of Bombas socks handed out to Delta One passengers that month, Bombas donated a pair to Covenant House, which provides services to homeless and exploited youth in the U.S. In all, Bombas donated 300,000 pairs. Delta has supported efforts at Covenant House facilities around the country for several years, including volunteer activities and an annual Executive Sleep Out, where business leaders spend a night on the streets to raise awareness for homeless youth.
SASThe Comfort Kits SAS distributes to business-class passengers aboard flights from Scandinavia to North America and Asia took a sustainable step forward last December with the introduction of new, more environmentally conscious materials and contents. The kits themselves double as after-flight wash bags and are made by fashion house Filippa K, which is committed to totally sustainable production by 2030. The Humble Co. dental kits contain cornstarch toothbrushes and vegan toothpaste flavored with natural mint. Swedish Stockings socks, meanwhile, incorporate recycled materials and are colored with eco-friendly dyes, while the Verso Skincare products are created using as few ingredients as possible in order to limit their environmental footprint.
UnitedUnited’s amenity kits themselves are not focused on environmental practices, per se. Yet the airline’s sustainability-focused Eco-Skies initiative and partnership with Clean The World, an organization that combats preventable hygiene-related deaths, is worth mentioning. After flights, crew members collect unused items from onboard amenity kits, such as toothpaste and hand sanitizer. The airline then sends them to Clean the World. Volunteers sort and repackage the items into hygiene kits, which can then be distributed to women, children, and veterans in need. Even basic items like these can prevent illness, infection, and other hygiene-related issues. To date, the airline estimates that it has collected over 150,000 pounds of items to create over 75,000 hygiene kits through this partnership. Thus plastics and products that might have been single use are given a new purpose and help others to boot.
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