50+ Sustainable Ethical Bags 2022

woman wearing shoulder bag


Realistically each of us only need a very small selection of bags to get us through life so this article isn’t intended to have you lusting after a new bag just because. It meant to help you find a sustainable ethical bag to suit your needs and within your budget, which will serve you well for the rest of your, hopefully, long life. I bought a relatively expensive (€150) leather handbag 15 years ago and it’s still going strong. When the seams started to rip I had it repaired by Isaac Jackman (formerly C&D repairs) on Charlemont St, D2 and I feed it with olive oil a few times throughout the year to keep it supple. Based on its current condition I’d expect this bag to keep me going until the grim reaper comes calling.

Nothing mentioned in this article has been sponsored. It’s all just my own personal opinion.

When I start researching a ‘where to buy’ article like this I tend to start with a broad definition of ‘sustainable and ethical’ and refine as I go. For example I did bookmark suppliers of vegan bags but most of them were just plastic with little else, eco-wise, going for them. So I’ve decided to only include bags made from materials that are either recycled, reused or compostable. If you’d like to educate yourself on the eco-credentials of the various materials used in bag making check out my article on Sustainable Ethical Fibres and Fabrics

Ireland

The Upcycled Movement in Wexford make bags and other accessories from post-consumer wetsuits and other materials. 10% of the profits from the neo collection goes to Seal Rescue Ireland where Lynn, the founder,  volunteers.

mamukko bags

Another company involved in recycling material was Cork based Mamukko. Set up by two Hungarian brothers the company offers sailing bags upcycled from sails, life rafts, leather and textiles in their workshop in Kinsale, Ireland.

Another Irish company, Lovern use traditional vegetable tanned leather to make stunning long-lasting barrel shaped bags in Ireland by hand.

Based in Ireland Vel-Oh make cycle-friendly bags from British Millerain waxed cotton and canvas with London sourced leather details. The heavy duty cotton webbing also comes from the UK and every bag is lined with a polka dot cotton material from a supplier in Ireland.

Fresh Cuts in Dublin 2 sell a range of backpacks made from recycled cotton and also Letfrik backpacks made from recycled polyester.

Cork Crafts in Cork! sell bags, wallet and shoes made from cork leather in Portugal. The store owner told me that no plastic or synthetic chemicals is used in making the cork leather, just adhesive to stick it to the backing fabric, which may or may not be natural so check before you buy.

Sustainable Backpacks

Sundrift makes backpacks from certified recycled polyester designed specifically to suit the female form. They use recycled packaging and offset the carbon emitted from shipping, by planting trees in the West of Ireland. They currently manufacture in Asia but are hoping to move production closer to Ireland in the future.

recycled Irish backpacks

Irish company Duc sell a range of bags from recycled plastic, which they say are made ethical in a factory in Vietnam, which they visit frequently to check conditions. A percentage of the sale of some of their products supports charities.

Irish eco bag brand

Aoife makes high-end bags with plant-based leathers, leather offcuts and recycled fabric, some from salvaged marine waste, in Italy. They also donate a percentage of their sales to the charity Healthy Seas and plant a tree for every bag sold.

Meitheal Mara make tote bags from upcycled materials donated by Acme Blinds in Cork, and Dolibag upcycle materials in tote bags in Kinvara in Co Galway.

Patagonia is a high-street and online outdoor clothing company that sell bags made from recycled polyester bags. On their website they give details on how they work with factories and mills to ensure ethical work-practices, good working conditions and processes that are less harmful to the environment. They say they are particularly invested in protecting migrant workings and guarding against child labour and human trafficking. The company also gives 1% of their sales to support environmental organisations around the world. There is tons of information on the Patagonia website about the ethical and sustainable way they do business.

International brand Tumi, which are available in Brown Thomas in Dublin offer a range of recycled bags made from post-industrial fabric scraps collected from factory floors.

Another international brand Samsonite have a range of bags partially made from fabric created from recycled PET bottles.

Le Sportsac have a few ranges made from recycled materials

If designer brands are more your thing then check out the range of pre-loved designer bags at Siopaella, or Designer Exchange. Both companies have stores in Dublin city centre.

Irish company Sportshouse and global brand Jansport both offer lifetime gaurantees on their bags.

Irish Stockists of Sustainable Brands

  • Irish company My Cotton Drawer sells a range by Roka London that is partially made with recycled polyester.
  • The Weed Solution (Ireland) sells a range of bags made from Hemp including the Sativa brand.

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This time in previous years I’ve published a list of Ethical Sustainable Zero Waste Make-up and Friction and the Waste Culture

 

Published by Elaine Butler

I am a circular design consultant helping manfacturers prepare for the circular economy

15 thoughts on “50+ Sustainable Ethical Bags 2022

  1. Hello

    Firstly I cannot thank you enough for mentioning my website on your lovely blog! It’s amazing!

    May I just be terribly cheeky and ask if you can re spell the name to mi apparel and take down the brand tinct which I don’t sell (never heard of it until now so thank you for telling me about them!) I do sell the bloody fab Elvis and Kresse tho!!!

    Again THaNK YOU xxx

    I’m Kate by the way, Lovely to meet you

    Xxxx

    1. You’re more than welcome and thanks for your kind words about my blog.

      Sorry for those errors. Have corrected them now. Keep me posted if you add any other brands. I’ve included your company on my post about sustainable ethical clothing too.

      Have a wonderful Christmas and keep up the good work Kate.

      All the best,
      Elaine

      1. Elaine! YOU ARE AMAZING! Thank you xxx yes once I stock more bag lines I will be in touch for sure!!!

        Have a such a MAGICAL Christmas and again THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SUPPORTING ME!

        XXXX Kate

  2. Great article and so glad to know there are many brands and people out there strike to make the world a more environmental friendly and sustainable place to live.
    Please also check the brand Ananda Zurich for another option of sustainable handbag made from pineapple leaves.
    http://www.ananda-zurich.com

      1. If biodegradable is the only criteria then you right as unfortunately the resins currently used are not biodegradable. Piñatex is working on a bio based coating however and then together with the natural fibres and PLA used will make it 100% sustainable.

    1. Yes, that is right! Hope you will have a post that is opened also for such materials like Pinatex and hope there will be soon a solution. Thank you for the encouragement that we all need to keep going and make our planet more sustainable.

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