13 Eco friendly purses for every budget.
Sadly, luxury accessories are not made with the environment in mind. We are going to explore this lack of moral code.
Find your new favorite accessory on the list of 13 eco friendly purses below.
Hot Couture Right Now
Six major conglomerates own forty of the top luxury fashion brands. The amount of influence these companies have is monopolizing. They decide the money moves. They allow animals and people to be tortured for profit. Allocating funds to sustainable materials, paying fair wages, and innovating fashion technology are all in their realm of capabilities. Are they acting? No. That type of paradigm shift has too much risk.
Starting with advertising, fashion corporations thrive on it. They spread their seed via expensive conventional and digital ads: billboards, buses, banners, radio, television, videos, search engines, email, etc. Meanwhile purchasing body space on some notable figures: musicians, actors, athletes, etc. Teeming with money the fashion industry subliminally forces product into our lives. They tell us these names—Versace, Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton, and more—define “luxury.” It works. We validate this ideal by buying their purses and other goods. This enables them to exploit the earth.
Leather – the bad, the ugly
Many high-end purses use leather. Leather rapes society in an awful way, and a handful of people profit. Fans of animal leather claim that is better to use the entire cow, versus let it go to waste. They are right. That is something we learned from Native Americans. Example: the buffalo. It was hunted and used to the fullest extent. In an ideal world this would be great. That is not the world we live in. The industry makes more money when more animals are killed. Even when there is little demand for meat, there is demand for hide.
The agriculture industry requires land. Land has to be cleared. Established ecosystems are cut away. Co2 is released into the air. Greenhouse gases increase. This is a huge problem in the Amazon Rainforest where deforestation is rampant. With that farming commences. Mass scale farming operations opt for extreme confinement. Animals are kept in close quarters with horrible living conditions. They are stuffed with self-feeders until they are bursting at the seams.
..there is more
At a certain stage cattle are crammed into trucks and transported to a slaughterhouse. The journey is tough: no food, no water, in heat or cold. They are poked and prodded off the truck. Then they go through the slaughter chute. Each cow is supposed to be shot with a captive bolt gun. This renders a painless death. But the line is never stopped for a missed animal, that is still alive. So many cows are chopped limb from limb while they are conscious.
Tanning cowhide is the next step. 80% of animal leather in the world is tanned using chromium, a highly toxic chemical. It results in 800,000 pounds of toxic waste runoff into our landfills and waterways. This is common in countries with poor environmental regulations like China, India, and Bangladesh. People die from working in tanneries. How do they die? By being boiled alive, drowning or buried in chemicals. People in contact with the chemicals or polluted water runoff suffer from severe illnesses. Cancer, respiratory, endocrine, and genetic maladies are just a few inflictions.
Not done yet
Moving on to the labor factories. Major brands pay workers very little. They all claim to be houses of quality and exclusivity. Yet many products are manufactured in the same factories, some in Italy and some in China. Labor costs are always being squeezed. In factories you find poor working conditions, long hours and low wages. Illegal immigrants are a source of cheap labor. Often workers get little training, and are put to work with dangerous equipment. While these factory owners like to boast zero medical incidents, workers report otherwise. With no medical insurance, they are cut out of jobs and left with life-altering injuries.
No More Leather
We do not need to settle for killing animals, people and the planet. If we are talking eco friendly purses then the best made without leather. There are plenty of new advances lighting a fire into fashion. Ingenuity comes in the form of reducing, reusing, and recycling.
Did you know?
Faux leathers made out of plastics are on the rise. They have the same look, feel, and durability. Plus they account for a fraction of the petroleum used for animal leather. More eco friendly materials like fruit waste, canvas, cork, and linen also create unique textures. A few accessory brands have taken on the challenge of repurposing materials. Old tires, seat belts, or car interiors are just a few leather alternatives.
13 Eco Friendly Purses:
The Company: These are affordable eco friendly and fair trade purses. Designer Allison Beal with StyleSaint promises a line of essentials that are consciously produced. They like cutting out the middleman. By participating in a direct to consumer model, they cut distribution costs. This guarantees a nice price for customers. All products for this line are manufactured in Los Angeles.
Sustainability and Ethics: They track three measures of responsibility for their goods – gallons of water saved, yards of sustainable fabric created, and hours of ethical work paid.
The Bag: The Destin Satchel is a vegan shoulder bag that can convert to a hand held purse.
The Company: A Canadian brand that provides quality fashion items at accessible price points. They display a commendable social agenda. Supporting agencies that empower women is a top priority. Among many charitable projects, they make stylish PINKSTIX diaper bags for mothers of premature babies.
Sustainability and Ethics: Their eco bags are made with a 100% PETA-approved, vegan polyurethane (PU) leather. The factories they partner with are reviewed several times a year. Factory workers have an open line of communication that promotes long, loyal relationships.
The Bag: This tote will get you through the long day. It has multi use compartments to store everything you need. Not only is it sustainable, it won’t crack in cold winters. Plus it can be cleaned easily with a damp cloth.
3. Black A Clutch by grünBag – $-$$
*Please note: this is the only brand on the list using new animal leather; it is one of three brands using recycled animal leather.
The Company: Their main purpose is to make quality eco bags. Their mission is to reuse scraps in creative ways. All of this is to prevent waste.
Sustainability and Ethics: 90% of all of the materials are reused or sustainably sourced materials. They use: tarpaulin; VIKING life bags; seat belts; advertising banners; recycled nylon; material made out of 100% recycled plastic bottles (aka PET); recycled leather; vegan leather; a limited amount of sustainable animal leather. The animal leather they do use is tanned with vegetable dyes in factories with the highest grade working conditions. Their goal is to eventually cut out animal leather altogether. Any of their bags can be made with a vegan alternative. The eco bags are made in factories in Denmark and Poland. All factory workers get paid fair wages, and work in safe conditions.
The Bag: This is a small elegant clutch. Perfect to carry the bare essentials. It is made out of tarpaulin but has a matte finish.
4. Dover Shoulder Bag by Matt & Nat – $$
The Company: Committed to never using leather or any other animal-based materials. Matt & Nat have been endorsed by the likes of Natalie Portman, Olivia Wilde, Charlize Theron, Emily Deschanel, Toby Maguire, and the list goes on.
Sustainability and Ethics: These fair trade purses are crafted from recycled nylon, cardboard, rubber, and cork. The linings are made out of 100% recycled plastic bottles. Most exciting, is the new addition of recycled bike tires to their collection.
The Bag: Sleek design on the outside. A thoughtful smartphone pocket on the inside! The adjustable strap allows for comfort in any situation.
5. Cher Mini by Angela Roi – $$
The Company: They believe personal style should not come at the expense of personal values. These are bags made from non-animal materials. Each is meant to achieve a timeless look that reflects a conscious mindset.
Sustainability and Ethics: These purses are designed with EPUL (Exquisite Polyurethane Leather). The process results in a smooth texture, luxury look and feel. Artisans earn fair wages in clean, comfortable factories. The company does not align with the use of sweatshops and child labor. Quarterly visits ensure the factories are up to code.
The Bag: Going vegan never felt so luxurious. The material appears like real leather. This is a stylish addition to the workday.
6. Cross Body Purse by Corkor – $$
The Company: A lovely couple began this company at a young age, messing with cork in their backyard. A fun hobby turned into a thriving company.
Sustainability and Ethics: They use sustainable and natural material to minimize the use of polyurethane plastic. All materials are sourced and manufactured locally in Portugal. They use non-toxic and water-based inks. Bags are made in small batches by hand. Shipping is done in bulk to logistics warehouses, reducing carbon emissions. All of their cork leather is FSC certified–a marker for the protection of the cork oak forest.
The Bag: This purse has a completely different look. Very natural, has a smooth feel, and a flat base with metal feet for stability.
*Please note: this is one of three brands on the list using recycled animal leather.
The Company: They have been mastering the art of upcycle since 2008. Located in Canada, this brand creates luxury fashion out of repurposed materials. To them, recycled materials are rich with stories and character. They are winners of the 2011 Globe Award for the best green Canadian product.
Sustainability and Ethics: Materials like leather come from car interiors in wrecking yards and airline seats. Plus they use seat belts, tires, fire overalls, etc. They use it all! Due to the nature of sourcing, all products are made in small batches. Each, is one of a kind and unique.
The Bag: It is a limited edition bag, with only 10 others made in this color combination. It has a striking blend of Italian leather and patterned upholstery fabric off-cuts. I’ve ever seen anything like it.
8. Cottontail by Gunas – $$
The Company: They advocate conscious consumerism over fast fashion. Their belief is clear; Leather is not just a by-product of the meat industry; animals are not a property of humans; animals should not be bullied or dominated.
Sustainability and Ethics: They are a PETA-approved brand. All products are 100% vegan and cruelty free. They adamantly refuse exploitation in the manufacturing of their products. Gunas supports an incredibly long list of animal rights charities.
The Bag: This bag was featured in Netflix’s Series of Unfortunate Events. It has a wild color and a floppy bow. If this bag doesn’t scream luxury I don’t know what does.
9. Nila 40 by BLK Sheep – $$
*Please note: BLK Sheep is the only brand found on this list that uses PVC as their vegan material.
The Company: A glamorous collection of vegan handbags and accessories. BLK Sheep designs for the modern fashion lover. These are timeless pieces that don’t sacrifice morals.
Sustainability and Ethics: These bags are made out of PVC. While PVC is better for the environment than animal leather, Polyurethane (PU) material is far less toxic. The material does provide certain features not found in other vegan bags. They are completely waterproof, weather resistant, and easy to clean.
The Bag: In search of an eco friendly purse or bag that you can get rough with, look no farther. This is a great option for the beach, kids, gym, etc.
10. Large Post Bag by Elvis & Kresse – $$
Please note: this is one of three brands on the list that uses recycled animal leather.
The Company: Since 2005 this UK brand has been rescuing raw materials and repurposing them into luxury accessories. They got things going when they reclaimed decommissioned fire hoses from the London Fire Brigade. They donate a whopping 50% of their profits to charities!
Sustainability and Ethics: Beyond fire hoses, they incorporate parachute silk, old printing blankets from newspaper printers, coffee sacks, and auction banners into their bags. In 2017 they partnered with Burberry to tackle 35,000 tons of leather waste. This duo gets pretty creative with their packaging too. They make packaging materials in house from recycled shoe boxes and tea sacks.
The Bag: It is made out of fire hoses, parachutes, and recycled Burberry leather. Enough said.
11. Gigi Pyrite Clutch by HFS – $$$
The Company: Sustainability is the backbone of the company. Their eco friendly purses are produced locally and ethically. Regarding their materials, HFS maintains extreme transparency on their website. Their products fall under four categories: recycled, upcycled, deadstock or low impact.
Sustainability and Ethics: They utilize recycled fabrics, and deadstock fabrics often thrown out from major companies. Their low impact materials are sourced from hemp, cork, and organic cotton. Pinatax, a pineapple leaf leather and Oeko-Tex Standard 100 polyurethane leather, are used for their bags.
The Bag: This clutch has a stunning look and finish. Included is a gold chain to really set this piece off. The inner lining is made of pineapple suede!
12. Soft Crossbody Bag by KWONN – $$$
The Company: This is your source for luxury eco friendly purses. The story goes like this: Nicole Kwon was a fashion designer running her own concept store. She had a turning point when she realized luxury leather goods were imposing problems on the environment. KWONN was born.
Sustainability and Ethics: All bags are cruelty-free, PVC-free, and toxin free. Each one is crafted in NYC with vegan suede from Japan. The eco bags are made with care in small batches. They are easily washable with a damp cloth and water.
The Bag: It has a minimal design but packs a punch. The bright blue color really adds a pop to the wardrobe. This vegan purse is ultra light.
13. Falabella Mini Tote by Stella McCartney – $$$
The Company: They commit to operating a modern and responsible business. Since their opening in 2001, they have had a strong stance as a vegetarian brand and remain cruelty-free and ethical.
Sustainability and Ethics: They never use leather, skin, fur, or feathers. They also utilize “fur-free-fur” made out of acrylic, polyester, wool and mohair. By using recycled polyester their products are 24x less harmful than products made out of leather.
The Bag: Their style is unheard of. Talk about a collector’s piece. This mini tote would be beautiful for use or display.
The fashion industry is going through a renovation. Lucky us! We are witnesses to the magic. Consumers are raising the bar. Brands cannot snub the earth for profit. Thanks to technology, information is readily available. It is easier for us to discover the truth about materials and labor. Let’s welcome brands making an effort to change. We have to fail in order to succeed. Past failures are sparking change. Change in mindsets and skillsets.
As we move away from unsustainable practices we will be reducing our footprint. A much needed relief for the planet. With scientists warning us about the dangers of climate change. One eco friendly purse or a sustainable backpack can make a difference. Let people live in peace. Let animals know peace.