Models of green cartoon frogs holding bags
If the bags are green enough for this lot...

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. Durable bags made from old materials destined for landfill doesn’t seem to make sense, but we’ve recommended some brands who’ve nailed it.

What is a vegan bag?

A vegan bag must have sustainably produced and not made from any animal products. This rules out leather immediately. Vegan leather bags are not necessarily just plastic. Recycled bags can 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? It’s not just about adding some new upholstery to an antique chair, it’s also part of a new wave of highly functional fashion of 2020. Eco-friendly bag brands are popping up worldwide. We’ve summarised the best vegan and recycled bag and accessory brands you can purchase online.

Best recycled and vegan bag brands in 2020

Bag brandWhat they’re made ofRecycled materials?All vegan?
Rareform Repurposed billboard vinylYesYes
UPSO Materials destined for landfillYesYes
Been London > Vegan range All recycled textiles > Pineapple leaf ‘leather’YesNo
M-24 Truck tarpaulinsYesYes
Kula Washable paper and recycled plastic bottlesYesYes

Remember the traditional image of a recycled bag being somewhat beige and made of hemp? They’re a far cry from the eco-friendly bags of today

What the bag brands say

These top recycled and vegan bag brands have insightful methods of production and sources. Learn more below about what they say about their bags.

Rareform

‘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 from the start of the design process

View Rareform bags >

UPSO

‘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 within a few miles

View UPSO bags >

Been London

‘You can be sure that every element of our designs is made from sustainable recycled textiles - from the zips to the linings and everything in-between.

[...]

We also take steps to keep the waste in our studio to a minimum. 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.’

‘Please meet our brand new vegan line! 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: very few brands using Piñatex pineapple leather

View Been London bags >

View Been London Vegan range >

M-24

‘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: truck and lorry tarpaulins

View M-24 bags >

Kula

‘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, the bag is lightweight

View Kula bags >

Recycled and vegan bag gallery

Below is the USPO barrel bag in use in a bright blue.

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Here we have the Rareform bag out and about.

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Kula bags as seen in-store in London.

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Sources

  1. https://www.m-24.co.uk/pages/manufacturing
  1. https://www.kulabags.co.uk/pages/the-material
  1. https://upsobags.co.uk/our-story
  1. https://been.london/pages/about
  1. https://www.rareform.com/pages/old-about
  1. https://been.london/collections/made-from-pineapples