I spent a couple of weeks last summer visiting my brother who was living just outside Zurich, Switzerland.  One of our activities was to take a trip to the recycling center.  We gathered up all the (cloth) shopping bags we could find and loaded them with the glass, plastic, paper, and aluminum that had been collecting in the kitchen and headed out to the shopping center.  At one end of the parking garage were large bins labeled for all the different types of items.  We managed to get rid of everything although some of the pictures were a little confusing.

According to the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs:

The Swiss are champion recyclers. In 2003, 47% of all urban waste was recycled – a new Swiss record. They recycled 70% of paper, 95% of glass, 71% of plastic bottles, 85-90% of aluminum cans and 75% of tin cans. 

So recycling has become a Swiss way of life.

However, the really interesting thing we found were bags.  Purses, messenger bags, tote bags, wallets, backpacks and even iPhone sleeves all made from recycled goods under the Freitag name.  This is from the Freitag website:

In 1993 the Freitag brothers…developed a messenger bag using old truck tarpaulins, used bicycle tires and seatbelts in the living room of their shared apartment. The old tarps were washed in the bathtub, then cut between the sofa and the television and sewn into the first FREITAG messenger bags on Mom’s sewing machine. Even today, every bag is handmade and unique. Unbeknownst to them, the brothers’ creation released a wave of innovation in the world of bags, and the Individual Recycled Freewaybags from Zurich have been conquering the world ever since.


These bags are a common site all over Switzerland.

The main Freitag building is housed in recycled containers.


This is my purse.  They are not cheap but they are very cool!

Happy Earth Day!!


  1. This is so interesting–I was not aware of those Freitag recycled bags. I was truly impressed, though, while living in Germany, by how commited the people are to recycling and by how extensive the recycling program is there. Good post!

  2. TOTALLY AWESOME! I found similar bags in Barcelona in 2008. They’re amazing aren’t they. This is totally the kind of stuff we are trying to promote in the travel portion of our site Wanderinggenie. If you don’t mind I may want to re-blog this. If it’s OK with you please let me know. If not that’s OK. From your title I take it you’re an expat. How long have you been in abroad and how much more do you have? Where are you from? Out of curiosity what do you miss from home, what other cool stuff have you found ?

  3. As a blogger with a soul, I loved your post and reminded me of my much loved computer bag (freitag too!) that I bought in NYC 8 years ago that is still going strong!

  4. We know Freitag bags well – I live just outside Zürich. My daughter has one for school – completely indestrictible and definitely cool – but they do cost an arm and a leg!

Leave a Reply