Gili Bags Have Billboard Upcycling in the Bag


Advertisement billboards mark the landscape on roads and buildings across the country. They go up and come down — sometimes for a matter of days or weeks. So where does that material go when it becomes dated? In almost all cases, this vinyl billboard material fills up our local landfills — until now.

Created to tackle vinyl billboard waste, Gili Bags are unique and versatile bags made from upcycled billboards and vinyl mesh. (By the way, Gili is Indonesian for “island.”) The vision of outdoor enthusiast Derek Redd, the idea for Gili Bags was created during his divemaster certification training on Bali, Indonesia, several years ago. Three things struck Redd during that experience in Bali.

  1. An industry void: Redd noticed that all scuba equipment bags were made of cheap black mesh. Poorly constructed, bags would wear out quickly and be disposed of, creating waste.
  2. Tremendous waste: According to Gili Bags, more than 500,000 tons of billboards are printed and disposed of every year.
  3. Local artisans: Redd noticed young local artisans handmaking souvenirs out of banners from surfing competitions.
gili bags

The Billboard Bag by Gili Bags. Image courtesy of Gili Bags’ Kickstarter.

Upon returning to Colorado, Redd began thinking about creating sustainable and functional all-season bags. If surfing banners would work, why not vinyl billboards? Soon thereafter, Redd discovered that he could source 100 percent of materials right here in the U.S. — upcycling that material and keeping it out of landfills. Gili Bags are now proudly handmade in Colorado.

One thing that will jump out at you right away is the amazing aesthetics of each bag — they are incredible visually appealing. They don’t look just thrown together. The vinyl material is carefully thought out, complementing the final handmade piece.

Add to that the versatility of the materials. Gili Bags are made of upcycled vinyl billboard, which is waterproof and highly breathable, allowing maximum ventilation. Reinforced handles at each end allow for durability for years to come.


The Sport Bag by Gili Bags. Image courtesy of Gili Bags’ Kickstarter.

Via their current Kickstarter campaign, Redd is offering Gili Bags in several sizes, including:

  • The Billboard Bag – 26”x14” (above)
  • The Watersport Bag – 26”x14”
  • The Sport Bag – 26”x14”
  • Zipper Pouches – 5”x9” (great for sunglasses, credit cards, etc.)

“Even excess material and scraps used from making the duffles will not go to waste. It will be used to make small and medium sized zipper pouches,” states Redd’s Kickstarter page.

Currently living in Vail, Colorado, Redd is a ski instructor during the winter and whitewater rafting guide during the summer. Between seasons, Redd dabbles as a scuba instructor. His love of nature is exemplified through Gili Bags donating 2 percent of its profit from all upcycled products to The Nature Conservancy.

To learn more about Gili Bags, check out their Kickstarter campaign.

Feature image courtesy of Gili Bags. 

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Chase Ezell

Chase has served in various public relations, communications and sustainability roles. He is a former managing editor for