From Seatbelts To Inner Tubes: Six Eco Friendly Purses That Are Sustainable And Stylish

by Nicola Temple on February 10, 2012

An eco friendly purse with flare can make a real fashion statement. Mainly, that style is important to you without costing the Earth…literally.

Luckily, eco friendly purses have come a long way and there are many out there that are the perfect marriage of style and environmental conscience.

Leather has been the long time foundation for purses, but things are changing. However, with more consumers aware of the health issues around tanneries as well as having consideration for animal welfare, alternatives to leather are becoming more popular.

Eco-friendly purses are made from reclaimed or recycled materials, such as tires or seatbelts, or from eco-friendly materials that are plant-based and renewable such as cork or hemp.

eco friendly purses

Eco friendly purses, such as this one made from reclaimed seat belt webbing, are a classy way of putting waste products to good use.

Aside from the material that the purse is made of, you might also want to consider where the product is made and how when shopping around. Did it have to be shipped a long distance? Is there a chance that there are human welfare issues associated with its production? All of these things factor into the sustainability of the product.

It’s always best to buy local with as few steps between you and the producer as possible.

Here are six eco friendly purses that I came across that I thought worth mentioning:

  1. Harveys seatbelt purses and handbags. Ok, so I’ve started with the high end of things, but I’m quite in love with these bags.  This is a husband and wife team that got inspired while fitting out their classic car with seatbelts. They discovered that each year a huge amount of seatbelt webbing doesn’t meet safety standards, and decided to put it to another use. The Harveys are turning what would otherwise be waste into a very chic accessory. Maggie bags are another seatbelt inspired design that are worth checking out.
  2. Hemptress  makes a variety of purses and handbags using hemp dyed with low-impact dyes and lined with a silk/hemp blend or hemp/recycled PET blend.  Much of the hardware on the purses is recycled, including the zippers, which are made from recycled materials. Any leather trim is all repurposed recycled leather.  One of my favourite models they have is the Mona Mini, which is a very sweet and stylish little purse; a real classic.

    eco friendly purses

    Hemtress' Mona Mini purse is another example of a classy eco friendly purse that's made from sustainable materials.

  3. English retreads make purses and handbags out of recycled tire inner tubes. The founder, Heather English, was inspired one day while floating down Boulder Creek, Colorado in an inner tube. It makes for a great story and it’s a great use of old inner tubes collected from truck stops.
  4. Recycled foil wrapper clutch bags are very popular and this paper folding technique is being used to make door mats, placemats, large totes and handbags, coin purses and even chic little clutches. These bags are often quite inexpensive, however keep in mind that it can take around 4,000 candy wrappers and 4 days to complete so a lot of labor somewhere has gone into their production. Make sure the bag is fair trade or sourced from a women’s cooperative to ensure that the hands that made the bag are being properly rewarded.
  5. Corkor makes purses from cork, which is a renewable resource. They range from little coin purses to a larger hobo purse. The variety in color is non-existent because they have kept the natural cork color, but this has a lovely earthy feel to it. To keep the purse looking new, you just have to rub it down with a damp cloth every now and then. I would love to have a feel of one in person, to see how flexible and sturdy it is. The purses are manufactured in Portugal.
  6. A recycled poptop purse may not be something you walk down the red carpet with, but it’s certainly a conversation starter. The purse is made from the little poptops from cans and looks as though it would have been the perfect accessory for Tina Turner’s chainmail dress in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.

Well, there are a few places for you to start if you’re on the hunt for eco friendly purses. However, before you leave, have a look at this video that shows a new craze in eco-friendly purse materials…plarn! They’re crocheted using a yarn made from strips of plastic bags. Wow – I love people’s creativity, it gives me great hope.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: