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Top 10...eco-friendly bags

Ali Gane

25th March, 2011

Upcycled, recycled and 100 per cent green, Ali Gane, owner of online ethical accessories boutique onfriday, rounds up the 10 best eco bags around

Elvis & Kresse Tote Bag, £184
Why it’s great: This bag has seen 25 years of active service, putting out fires and saving hundreds of lives, before you even get it home. It’s made from decommissioned UK fire hoses that would otherwise have ended up in landfill. Elvis & Kresse scrub away two decades worth of soot, grease and dirt, and in the process reveal a remarkable, truly green textile. Industrial waste is the cornerstone of the Elvis & Kresse brand with even the lining being made from reclaimed military grade parachute silk. Both beautiful and durable, the bag combines style with the greenest of credentials.
Find out more: www.elvisandkresse.com

Aura Que Bucket Bag, £175
Why it’s great: Designed by up-and-coming UK-based designer Laura Queening, it’s been brought to life in a Nepalese factory that employs local people and is recognised by IFAT, the global Fairtrade organisation. The bag has been hand-crafted using the best natural materials and fibres that Nepal has to offer, including buffalo leather - a by-product of the food industry - and banana yarn created using the pruned outer layers of bark from local banana trees. Oozing style and sophistication, it’s a great example of Fairtrade at its designer best.
Find out more: www.auraque.com

Neumatica Irregular Bag, £75
Why it’s great: The name isn’t particularly inspiring but we’ll forgive our friends at Neumatica because it’s such a stylish bag and was made from reclaimed truck and bicycle inner tubes destined for landfill. Sourced from all over Argentina, the inner tubes are put through a double cleaning process before each pattern is hand-cut, piece by piece. No two bags are ever the same, as each tyre has its own distinctive texture and markings developed during life on the road. It’s more than a bag; it’s a daily design object and the ultimate in creative upcycling.
Find out more: www.neumaticanet.com.ar

Harveys Tote, £99.00
Why it’s great: Tough safety standards in the automotive industry mean that many miles of seatbelts don’t quite make the grade each year and are usually sent straight to landfill. And this is where Harveys step in - they lead the field in the design and manufacture of seatbelt bags. This tote is from their amazing Treecycle range and is made entirely from seatbelts discarded by the motor industry. It’s also fully lined with organic hemp and patterned using water-based inks.
Find out more: www.seatbeltbags.com

Alchemy Goods Pike Messenger Bag, £95
Why it’s great: Alchemy Goods are upcycling champions. Based in Seattle, they scour the local area for redundant bicycle tyre inner tubes and seatbelts, and transform them into some of the coolest upcycled bags on the market today. So far they have reclaimed 182,000 inner tubes and they’re still counting. They calculate the amount of upcycled material that goes into each bag by weight – the Pike’s total is 76 percent and even includes the inner tube valve, which has been reworked as a zip pull. It’s completely water resistant, has high quality reflective tape for night-time visibility and comes with a lifetime guarantee too.
Find out more: www.alchemygoods.com

Nkuku Savannah Shopper, £89
Why it’s great: Nkuku’s wonderful Savannah Shopper has plenty character and was made using age-old artisan skills by a Fairtrade co-operative of 40 families in Rajasthan. It’s been cut and hand-sewn using homemade leather thread and has taken a single craftsperson an entire day to complete. The leather is dyed using extracts of tree bark and plants and It’s lined with a beautiful floral cotton fabric.
Find out more: www.nkuku.com

Feuerwear Walter Messenger Bag, £109

Why it’s great: If you’re after a large, durable messenger bag with shed loads of street style, then this is the bag for you. It’s made from decommissioned German fire hose and recycled truck tarpaulin, and bears all the markings of a former life as a life saver.  Each hose has seen many years of active service so each bag has its own distinct markings and is guaranteed to be a unique, one-of-a-kind piece.
Find out more: www.feuerwear.com

NV London Calcutta Florence Weekender Bag, £155
Why it’s great: The Florence Weekender is a real fair-trade stunner. It’s been handmade using premium-quality printed cream canvas; screen-printed by hand using traditional methods and environmentally friendly AZO-free dyes. NV London Calcutta seem to capture all that is elegant, chic and exciting about ethical fashion and are fast becoming a major player in the accessories business. Design happens in London and the bags are brought to life in Calcutta using locally sourced materials and a not-for-profit Fairtrade manufacturer.
Find out more: www.nvlondoncalcutta.com

Cyclus Plaza Messenger Bag, £92
Why it’s great: The Plaza Messenger is another upcycling sensation. Made from reclaimed truck inner tubes, it’s got understated cool in spades and is guaranteed to turn heads on your daily commute. It’s made in Columbia by Cyclus – a small company that is leading the way in eco fashion design and who passionately believe that eco development has an important role to play in Columbia’s future.  They are committed to social justice and provide employment for some of Columbia’s most disadvantaged communities, including displaced people and refugees, single mums and Indians from the Camentsa tribe.
Find out more: www.cyclus.com.co

Hatti Buffalo Bag, £45
Why it’s great: The Buffalo bag doesn’t just look cool; it comes with a compelling story too. Made in a small village in the remote area of Sidhukot, high up in the Nepalese mountains, subsistence farming doesn’t provide enough food to survive here, so in order to find work the villagers make a three-day trek to Kathmandu where they receive their buffalo bag orders from Hatti and then return home to make them, collecting buffalo hide bit by bit as they go. These bags are responsible for the income and welfare of the whole community, and contribute to many surrounding villages. And with their traditional, centuries-old tanning methods it’s as eco-friendly as you can get.
Find out more: www.hattitrading.co.uk

To find out more, go to www.onfriday.co.uk

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