Earth Day may be in 20 days, but Earth Month has already begun. We’ve only got one earth to live on, so why wouldn’t we protect it whenever we can? Although many of us do care about the environment, there seems to be a disconnect when it comes to our sustainability values and the choices we make. Let’s look at fashion for example. According to a DownToEarth.org, the fashion industry is responsible for 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Emissions are also projected to rise by two-thirds in about a decade—yikes!
So is there a solution other than walking around naked? We can all make more eco-conscious fashion choices and it can be as simple as the accessories we choose, such as handbags. As much as we love our leather, a bag that spares a few cows and reduces waste during production is one worth checking out. There are actually a handful of handbag brands that use eco-friendly materials and even produce positive social impacts. Plus, their bags are actually cute! Here are four awesome handbag brands (and four awesome bag recommendations) to get you feeling good for Earth Month.
Pixie Mood’s products are cruelty-free and produced with vegan leather. Pixie Mood uses polyurethane, or PU, faux leather. Other brands tend to make their faux leather products with PVC or vinyl, which are lower-grade synthetic leathers that aren’t as light nor flexible as PU. Pixie Mood’s bags are 100% Vegan, and not simply PU-coated. As a bonus, the bags are manufactured ethically—Pixie Mood forbids manufacturers from engaging in forced labor and child labor. Manufacturers must also ensure worker health and safety, as well as pay sufficient wages and benefits.
The bags at Pixie Mood are just as cute as the brand’s name. Their bags have unique silhouettes and come in elegant, dusty pastel colors (think soft gray and dusty rose). The Valerie bag is a simple backpack with a cool geometric flap (details!). One of the colors it comes in is called “Ombré Dusk” and it’s beautiful. Its reminiscent of Pantone’s 2016 color of the year, when Pantone made the bold move of picking two colors: Rose Quartz and Serenity Blue.
Melie Bianco is all about offering handbags that look and feel luxurious, without putting the environment and workers (and your wallet) at risk. The brand won a PETA UK Vegan Fashion Award for “Best Animal-Friendly Fashion Accessories” with its PU leather bags. While products are made in China, Melie Bianco ensures that it’s sweatshop-free under its “Profit Sharing Model”. The model is a promise that the brand greatly invests in its suppliers, factories, and workers. Investments include paid vacations for employees and support to small vendors in the community. Our bag of choice? The Kim Taupe Crossbody bag has super cool gold hardware, including grommets on a detachable, wide shoulder strap. I’ve seen the bag styled with an all-white outfit and it looks elegant, but not boring. The taupe added a subtle pop of color that really tied the whole look together. And for $85, how could you do wrong?
Ever heard of leaf leather? Me neither, until I came across Thamon. A lot of Thamon’s products feature a marble-like pattern that’s actually made of leaves. Workers are paid to collect fallen leaves to be used for the bags. The leaves are treated with an environmentally friendly, non-toxic polymer to enhance durability and dyed with toxic-free coloring. Some of Thamon’s bags also use cork leather, which is made from cork shavings directly derived from cork oak tree bark. The material is not only environmentally friendly, but also hypoallergenic, water resistant and stain resistant.
I’ve always wanted the iconic Céline Trapeze bag for the longest time—but now I’m changing my mind. I am in love with a much more affordable ($85!) and sustainable option: Thamon’s Emily All Black bag. It has the “wings”, a top handle, and the little front lock that I love about Celine’s bag. The black leaf leather adds texture to the bag, elevating the whole look of it. Since the leaf leather has to be handcrafted by artisans from collected leaves, not every bag is going to look exactly the same. A 1-of-1 bag made from something as exotic as leaf leather sounds much cooler the latest designer "it" bag.
New Yorkers: Put your hands up for GUNAS! GUNAS is an NY-based handbag brand started in 2009, and has since become America’s first 100% vegan leather brand. GUNAS uses ANYTHING but animal by-products, including canvas, nylons, and even up-cycled polyester for linings. Even the custom logo hardware and lining is from upcycled or recycled materials.
Sugandh G. Agrawal, the genius behind GUNAS, should be your #wcw tomorrow. Combining her passions in activism and fashion, She quit her seven-year corporate career as an industrial designer to create GUNAS. “I’ve had my challenges but my drive to continue doing what I have been has not dulled even for a moment,” Agrawal wrItes on the GUNAS site. The Flamingo bag is the ideal example of sleek, yet sustainable. It has a simple, classy style that anybody would love to rock. The bag also has the perfect size for holding items beyond your phone and wallet. The navy color is my favorite because of the color-blocking. The navy, red, and cream give off nautical vibes that would be so fun for the spring and summer.
Any other eco-friendly handbag brands you've been loving? Let us know in the comments!