Best recycled and vegan bags
Gone are the days of needing to fork out for the finest leather, when bags today can be produced with recycled and animal-free materials. How can we have durable bags made from old materials destined for landfill? It doesn’t quite make sense, but we’ve recommended some bag brands who’ve nailed it.
What is a vegan bag?
To be a vegan bag, it must have been sustainably produced and not made from any animal products.
This rules out leather immediately. It’s easy to be scared off by the V word and the image it can conjure up. But vegan leather bags are not necessarily just made from hemp or vinyl and plastic. Recycled bags and backpacks now come from a variety of interesting sources.
Vegan and recycled bags can be made from:
- Old lorry tarpaulins
- Paper-based materials
- Plastic bottles
- Pineapple leaves
- Old billboards
You might have heard of ‘upcycling’. This practice isn’t just about adding some new upholstery to an antique chair, but part of a new wave of highly functional fashion of 2020. Eco-friendly upcycled backpacks brands are now popping up worldwide.
We’ve summarised the best vegan or recycled bag and accessory brands to buy online.
Best recycled and vegan bag brands
|Bag brand||What they’re made of||Recycled materials?||All vegan?|
|Rareform||Repurposed billboard vinyl||Yes||Yes|
|UPSO||Materials destined for landfill||Yes||Yes|
|Been London > Vegan range||All recycled textiles > Pineapple leaf ‘leather’||Yes||No|
|Kula Bags||Washable paper and recycled plastic bottles||Yes||Yes|
|LaBante||Recycled landfill materials, bottles and quality vegan leathers||Yes||Yes|
Benefits of buying vegan and recycled bags
These top recycled and vegan bag brands have insightful methods of production and sources. Learn more below about what they say about their bags.
LaBante London bags
‘We use circular approaches for items, instead of creating waste, we reuse it and push the boundaries of sustainable practices. All of our vegan leather designer handbags and purses are 100% recycled and we ship using recycled and recyclable packaging. On average we reclaim and reuse 7-25 plastic bottles (PET) in each of our handbags, to-date we have saved over 10 million bottles from reaching landfill.’
Unique selling point: buying one bag plants ten trees.
‘3,021,407 lbs of billboards rescued.’
‘Our team rifles through hundreds of billboards daily and sorts them two ways: by colors and by thickness. We research what colors and patterns make YOU feel unique, and sort based on which colors sell best for certain bags. Our goal is simple: make a high quality, sustainable make that is as one-of-a-kind as you.’
Unique selling point: extremely bespoke design choices and unique final product.
‘UPSO brings together recyclable materials with considered and functional design to create distinctive and unique bags with a stylish edge.
The environmental impact of UPSO bags is limited by sourcing materials locally and undertaking the whole process in one Lancashire factory, which uses solar energy to power the sewing machines. The tarps are cleaned, hand cut and sewn into bags ready for customer selection. Further upcycling uses old fire hoses and seat belt webbing as components.’
Unique selling point: completely locally sourced and manufactured in Lancashire.
Been London bags
'You’ll notice that most of our designs are square or rectangular. This means we’re able to produce close to zero fabric offcuts and floor cuttings in the design process.’
‘We're always searching for the most planet-friendly materials, so working with Piñatex has been a plan for a long time. PETA-certified pineapple leaf-based vegan alternative to leather is a byproduct from an already existing agriculture in the Philippines. One square metre of Piñatex recycles 14 pineapple plants.’
Unique selling point: their leather bags are recycled, and for the vegan range - very few brands are using Piñatex pineapple leather.
‘We're constantly scanning the motorways for new and interesting truck tarps to recycle. When they're no longer needed, these mighty sheets are often binned and replaced. Fortunately we can't get enough of these second-hand greasy monsters. We salvage them from all corners of the UK back to our recycling HQ in Somerset.'
Unique selling point: made from truck and lorry tarpaulins.
‘The full Kula collection is designed using Texon Vogue - a durable, practical and washable paper.
The lining on all new bags is made from 100% recycled plastic bottles. 54% fewer CO2 emissions are generated during the production of this material compared to virgin polyester.
Using these material ensures all our products are not only 100% vegan, but are also much more sustainable than other faux leather and vegan options.’
Unique selling point: Texon Vogue is incredible to touch and the bag is extremely lightweight.
Recycled and vegan bag gallery
Remember the traditional image of a recycled bag being somewhat beige and made of hemp? These are far cry from the stylish vegan and recycled bags of today. There are just some of the many styles on offer at each brand.
Check out their online shops to find out more. Support these brands by buying directly from their websites.
In the gallery you can see:
- LaBante Acacia backpack, £99.99
- USPO Birch backpack, £60
- Rareform Ace backpack, £65.14
- Kula Fairfield backpack, £33
- BEEN London AppleSkin™ vegan leather Vauxhall backpack, £130
- M-24 Zip backpack, £95
Why should we try to be greener folk?
Regular plastic bottles can take up to 700 years to degrade and dissolve. As well as this, around 80% of all plastic used in the world isn't recycled and ends up in landfill or in oceans.
Buying new leather means increasing demand for more cow farming and slaughtering. Cow farming is harmful to the environment because of the methane produced. And if you want to move to a cruelty-free lifestyle, it's not just meat that means killing animals.
By getting a vegan or recycled material bag for a change, you can recycled materials go round and avoid cruelty to animals.