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If you’re looking for the perfect sustainable handbag to upgrade your wardrobe rotation, this article’s for you!
Let’s be honest, having a durable, tried-and-true eco friendly purse in your arsenal to help keep your life (and belongings) together is a must.
A handbag adds that perfect finishing touch to any outfit, whether a casual jeans-and-tee combo or a classy dress for a special occasion. However, you’ll often find that many handbags are made from unsustainable materials, like virgin plastics or non traceable leather.
Luckily for us, 2023’s best sustainable handbag brands are here to offer an array of eco-friendly and ethical options in every shape and silhouette imaginable.
We’ve selected options from brands creating sustainable crossbody bags and totes to mini and large ethical luxury handbags. All brands here make sustainable purses and handbags from eco-friendly materials and approach their production with a sustainable philosophy.
We’re sure you’ll like these sustainable handbag brands, so let’s get straight into the recommendations!
What exactly are sustainable handbags?
Sustainable handbags are designed and produced to minimize their negative impact on the environment and promote ethical practices. These ethical handbags aim to reduce resource consumption, waste generation, and harmful emissions while considering social and ethical responsibilities.
Brands producing sustainable handbags have transparent supply chains, ensuring fair wages, safe working conditions, and proper treatment of workers throughout production. Moreover, these affordable and ethical luxury handbags are often made with high-quality craftsmanship, making them durable and long-lasting. Their timeless designs also encourage consumers to use them for many years, reducing the need for frequent replacements.
2023’s Best Ethical Brands for Sustainable Handbags
Sustainability: Preventing marine pollution by recycling plastic bottles destined for the ocean into their eco bags. They are working towards a circular, zero-waste supply chain by 2023.
Rothy’s take plastic bottles destined for the ocean and turns them into their signature, stylish handbags.
Bottles are transformed into yarn, which is then knitted, using state-of-the-art 3-D technology, into their signature, durable, washable bags, resulting in marine pollution and less waste.
They have styles to suit every occasion, from classic handbags with removable straps to contemporary shopping totes.
Sustainability: Certified sustainable materials, Lean Closet Program that gives a second life to products, repair services
Price range: $$$
Next up, a fantastic female-led sustainable handbag brand with an even more amazing mantra— “Fewer, better.” Cuyana’s most-beloved totes, off-duty crossbody, travel, and occasion bags are all responsibly-made with certified ethical leather, recycled plastics, and uncoated GOTS-certified Turkish canvas.
The result? Premium-quality wardrobe staples can easily take you from your next city stroll to brunch and special events.
What we love the most about this brand is that all ethical leather handbags are crafted responsibly in family-run factories throughout Vietnam, Italy, Turkey, and Argentina.
Most importantly, Cuyana thrives on being as transparent as possible, and thus, the website allows us to track the entire supply suppliers list. Lastly, Cuyana facilitates repairs for your ethical luxury handbags and Cuyana pieces and gives a second life to products through its Lean Closet Program.
Sustainability: Certified sustainable materials, B Corporation, traceable, recycling programs, Responsible production
Price range: $$$
From bucket bags and sustainable tote bags to totes, sling bags, baskets, handbags, and wallets, Sezane has all our sartorial needs covered. They opt for eco-friendly materials such as natural heritage 100% vegetable-tanned smooth cowhide leather, natural raffia, and cotton linings to create their raved-about and ultra-chic lineup.
The sustainable French brand aims to add a touch of timeless sophistication to our rotation. That’s why they solely partner up with the best fair trade ateliers to design their product’s ethical handbags fairly and responsibly. Lastly, the B-certified corporation bears the Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certification, which confirms the absence of harmful chemical substances.
4. Matt & Nat
Sustainability: Sustainable materials, vegan leather
Price range: $$ – $$$
They don’t only stop at footwear, though. Matt & Nat’s handbag and backpack range are all made from vegan leather and contain a range of sustainable materials that include recycled nylons, cardboard, rubber, cork, and even plastic bottles.
5. Terra Thread
Sustainability: Organic cotton and ethical manufacturing
Price Range: $
A firm handbag favorite of ours here at the Ecothes HQ is TerraThread. You can see my bag in the two pictures alongside and below.
Terra Thread bags are a testament to the power of conscious design and responsible manufacturing. Committed to making a positive difference, TerraThread stands out as a sustainable and ethical brand in the world of fashion. Their bags are thoughtfully crafted using organic cotton and eco-friendly materials, minimizing their environmental footprint without compromising on style or functionality.
What makes Terra Thread truly exceptional is its dedication to fair wages and safe working conditions for the skilled artisans who create these masterpieces. By choosing Terra Thread bags, you not only embrace a stylish accessory but also contribute to a greener and more equitable future, one bag at a time.
We’ve tested both their work tote and cross-body bag, and we love both durability and practically! Read our full review here.
6. Made Trade
Sustainability: A range of eco-friendly purses from sustainable handbag brands
Price Range: $-$$$
Made Trade is an online ethical marketplace offering a range of eco-friendly purses from sustainable handbag brands at an affordable price.
Made Trade’s bag offering stands out as an exceptional choice for the conscious consumer due to its vast collection of ethical bags.
Each handbag they feature is crafted with impeccable artistry and an unwavering commitment to quality; these bags exude timeless elegance and durability, making them a reliable companion for any occasion.
Made Trade feature bags from brands we’ve included, such as Nisolo and Allegorie, including other amazing eco-friendly purse brands like Purse & Clutch, Tiradia Cork (Pictured) and more.
Sustainability: Luxury microfiber vegan leather material, sweatshop-free and cruelty-free manufacturing, MWBE certified, gives back.
Price range: $$$
Luxury designer vegan handbags? Yes, please! The NY-based sustainable handbag brand Gunas, aims to accessories each of our daily looks with ethical handbags, tote bags, canvas bags, and purses. And they’re certainly not afraid of color!
Their sustainable tote bags are ideal for the office but also double as a perfect feather-light everyday bag. We love the intricate detailing and beautiful silhouettes. Some sustainable handbags are even adorned with ribbons and striking prints.
Last but not least, the conscious company teamed up with artisan and small-scale, MWBE Certified ethical manufacturers from countries such as India, South Korea, Mexico, Brazil, and Hong Kong.
Sustainability: FSC Certified cork, fully vegan, resource re-utlization, small batch production
All of their cork used is FSC® certified, so you know it’s being sourced in a sustainable way.
As well as using cork, they have a range of sustainable initiatives going on at Corkor which include using water re-utilization systems, making items in small batches, using non-toxic inks, and minimizing the use of polyester.
Sustainability: Ethically-sourced leather, on-demand production, eco-friendly manufacturing process, made in Europe, sustainable packaging
Price range: $$$
The ethical luxury handbags line knows no limit, from trend-driven mini bags to big tote bags, straw bags, or cute pouches.
Sustainable street style connoisseurs will fall in love with the ribbed-effect leather cylinder shoulder bag, but if you prefer something a bit more subtle, have a look at the O Evergreen Bag.
What makes this sustainable handbag brand stand out? Their pre-order system allows them to anticipate demand levels before production accurately, so they only produce the number of shoes they’re going to sell, which helps to minimize waste.
Sustainability: Climate Neutral Certification, eco-friendly materials, ethical manufacturing, B-certified corporation, Leather Working Group Certified
Price Range: $$$
The raved-about B Corp, Nisolo, offers some of the best sustainable handbags out there! Their collection epitomizes timeless minimalism with beautifully-made clutches, crossbody bags, sustainable tote bags, backpacks, and wallets.
We love the muted color palettes, which can easily pair with every outfit. Their material of choice? Vegetable-tanned leather!
The conscious brand ensures that every Nisolo purchase gives a living wage to 100% of the people creating products in their factory and enables them to pursue living wages throughout the rest of their supply chain.
11. Mar Y Sol
Sustainability: Traditional manufacturing process, organically tanned leathers, sustainable materials
Price range: $$$
The backbone of Mar Y Sol is to help families gain economic independence, whilst preserving a traditional craft and environmental conservation.
They work with families in Madagascar who use organically tanned leathers and sustainable materials to create their collection of eco-friendly handbags.
Every single bag they stock are hand-dyed and hand-woven, and they’ll only get better with age.
Sustainability: Vegan leather, made in Greece by local artisans
Price range: $$$$
Mashu is a London-based sustainable handbag brand. They design everything in-house in London, and the bags are then made in Greece by local artisans.
So, how are the bags sustainable? They’re leather, right? Wrong. Mashu’s bags are all made from completely vegan leather.
This means that as well as avoiding animal products, they reduce their use of resources such as land, water, food, and fuel. The vegan materials they use for their handbags include recycled, and bio-based materials.
Mashu’s bags look great – each has a unique, bespoke handle, and the minimalist designs inspired by Art Deco is bound to make you stand out.
Sustainability: Bio leather, USDA, PETA, and OEKO-TEX certified, responsible manufacturing,
Price Range: $$$
Ethical leather handbags made of fruits?! That’s right! Allegorie uses the finest and most sustainable USDA-certified Apple Leather, Mango Leather, and Cactus Leather to responsibly create their impressive range of wallets, tote bags, and backpacks.
In addition to being PETA vegan, the lineup also bears the OEKO-TEX certification, meaning it’s free of harmful chemical substances. This means that your new favorite ethical handbags are one-of-a-kind and stylish and help minimize food waste and pollution. How cool is that?
Also available to shop at Made Trade.
14. HFS Collective
Sustainability: Sustainable materials, made in LA
HFS Collective produce all of their bags locally in Los Angeles in an ethical way.
The materials their handbags are made from are all PETA-approved. According to HFS Collective, all of their materials fall under four categories: recycled, upcycled, deadstock, or low-impact.
They have a range of eco vegan leather bags, that are modern and stylish.
Sustainability: Work with small workshops in Guatemala and ensure their producers receive anywhere from 50-400% above the Fair Wage minimum. Items made with traditional techniques.
Price: $$ – $$$
The Root Collective are a sustainable handbag, shoe, and clothing brand that are definitely worth checking out.
They work with artisans in Guetamala and pay up to 400% above the Fair Wage minimum standard, and their mission is to continue to create jobs for people who need them.
Their ethically made handbags are made from high-quality leather, and often finished with unique handwoven details,
If you’re looking for a timeless handbag, you can’t go wrong the The Root Collective.
What is the most sustainable material for ethical handbags?
Sustainable brands can use different materials to create the perfect eco-friendly purses and handbags; we’ve listed a few of our favorites below.
Organic Cotton: Organic cotton is grown without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, reducing its environmental impact and promoting healthier ecosystems.
Hemp: Hemp is a fast-growing and low-input crop that requires less water and pesticides than other natural fibers, making it more environmentally friendly.
Recycled PET (rPET): PET bottles and other plastic waste can be recycled into fibers used to make fabrics. Using rPET reduces the demand for virgin petroleum-based materials and helps divert plastic waste from landfills.
Cork: Cork is a renewable resource harvested from the bark of cork oak trees. The harvesting process doesn’t harm the trees, and they continue to absorb carbon dioxide as they regrow.
Piñatex (Pineapple Leather): Piñatex is a sustainable alternative to leather made from the fibers of pineapple leaves, a byproduct of the pineapple industry.
Upcycled Materials: Sustainable handbags made from upcycled materials, such as repurposed fabrics or materials, help reduce waste and give new life to existing resources.
Can leather handbags be sustainable?
Yes, leather bags can be sustainable, but it depends on several factors, including how the leather is sourced and produced and the overall lifecycle of the bag.
Look for ethical leather handbags from brands that prioritize ethical sourcing. Sustainable leather should come from responsibly managed livestock farms where animals are treated well and the environmental impact is minimized.
Certification such as the LWG (Leather Working Group) is a good sign that the brand has traced the origins of its leather.
Vegetable-tanned leather is considered more sustainable than chrome-tanned leather, which is the conventional method used in most mass-produced leather goods. Vegetable tanning uses natural tannins from plant sources, reducing the use of toxic chemicals.
Wrapping Up: Sustainable and Ethical Handbags
We hope you’ve dicovered some new brands creating amazing sustainable handbags, ethically from sustainable materials.