I used to be a… *insert waste product here*

The best upcycled and recycled backpacks, totes and clutches

Call me a geek, but I find upcycling and recycling really exciting! It’s amazing what you can make from something that was deemed broken, or rubbish, or that had been busy littering the ocean. And an area of fashion that’s grabbed it with both hands is bags; whether you’re after a chic clutch or a practical rucksack for your cycle commute, chances are you can find what you need but rather than being made from leather or virgin cotton, it’s been refashioned from an old bouncy castle or some fire hoses (yes, really!).

This is one of those guides that I will continue to add to as I hear of more companies doing similar things, so if you know of anything interesting that I’ve missed, do please leave a comment or get in touch on Instagram. Meanwhile, here are 8 brands doing absolutely brilliant things.

Inflatables: Wyatt & Jack

Wyatt and Jack

A chance encounter with some unwanted deckchair canvas was where the Wyatt & Jack bag story started, but now they’re better known for making rucksacks and totes from unwanted rubber dinghies and past-their-best bouncy castles. You can even send in your own old inflatable with a message of what you would like, and they’ll make you a unique bag to your specifications. wyattandjack.com

Billboard posters: Rareform

Rareform

It was after seeing friends and neighbours in El Salvador making roofs out of old billboard posters that Rareform’s founders tried making some surfboard bags out of the same material. The vinyl fabric is incredibly durable and often comes with bright colours and graphics printed on it. Rareform now makes all sorts of bags from the stuff. rareform.com

Ring pulls: BOTTLETOP

BOTTLETOP

BOTTLETOP, which also made the belt bag I am wearing in the top picture, uses the ring pulls from metal drinks cans to make the crochet fabric for its chic bags. They are hand made by skilled artisans in Brazil, and the technique they use makes the bags incredibly strong and beautiful quality. (Full disclosure, I work part time for #TOGETHERBAND, which is a BOTTLETOP project, but they haven’t asked me to write this, nor am I being paid to do so!) bottletop.org

Sun awnings: 3 Quarters

3 Quarters

This Greek company makes its lovely bags from the left over or used fabric from the awnings that adorn buildings in its home, Athens. Every bag is unique, and they are all made by hand. The founders are also co-founders of Fashion Revolution in Greece. 3quarters.design

Fire hoses: Elvis & Kresse

Elvis & Kresse

I absolutely love what Elvis & Kresse make their bags from – decommissioned fire hoses! To date, they’ve reclaimed over 200 tonnes of material, and thanks to Elvis & Kresse, NONE of London’s waste fire hoses have gone to landfill for a decade. How brilliant is that? elvisandkresse.com 

READ MORE: CROSS-BODY BAGS WITH A CONSCIENCE

Plastic bags: Up-Fuse

Up-Fuse

Up-Fuse is a social enterprise as well as a fashion label, creating ethical employment for local people in Egypt (you can find out more about the people who made your bag on their blog). Every bag made saves around 30 single use plastic bags from ending up in landfill. up-fuse.com

Plastic bottles: Roka London

Roka London

I love the accuracy with this one (anyone into sustainability loves a good stat), and each bag from Roka London’s Sustainable Finchley range is made from 12-13 recycled plastic bottles. It also uses a lot less energy to produce than traditional methods. This cool cat comes in 3 sizes and 8 different colours. rokalondon.com

Plastic bottles: Goodordering

Good Ordering

I don’t think it’s any coincidence that outdoor activities brands have always been at the forefront of sustainable technology, probably because they want to protect the great outdoors they enjoy so much. London label Goodordering specialises in cycling bags and has an eco range made from plastic water bottles. I love this bum bag (and I don’t even cycle!). goodordering.com

 

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