Our favorite alternative to leather is cork handbags. With nature-inspired details and functional designs, these pieces were made with sustainable methods and materials that you can truly feel good about.
The Material: Cork
The high-quality cork fabric is made from the shavings of Cork Oak trees. Cork can be harvested every nine years without harming the trees. This makes cork a renewable, biodegradable and altogether sustainable material. What’s more, cork oak trees grow naturally without the use of any pesticides, watering or pruning. By buying cork you are supporting the continued value of these old growth forests.
The shavings are then made into a fabric by compressing a thick slice of cork with a natural fabric like cotton. In addition to being environmentally-friendly, it’s extremely durable, waterproof, stain resistant and easy to clean. Portugal is the number one producer of cork, as Cork Oak trees are native to the region.
The Production: Artisanal and Innovative
One Savvy Mother believes its brands should go the extra mile for the sake of the environment. That’s why the sourcing of cork is not the only material that makes the products sustainable. Other materials used are organic cotton, kelp-based “leather alternative” and leather. There is also an emphasis on facilities where all employees are treated fairly.
Not only are the workers paid a fair wage but with attention to detail and expertise of the artisans that we work with most of the production is handmade. Using methods that ensure that craftsmanship is learned and repeated we are dedicating the future to sustainable methods.
Functionality Inspired by Nature
What drives inspiration? Given that cork is the basis of the products, brands get inspired by nature and the fields of cork trees seen throughout the Mediterranean countries. Nothing short of the beauty of Mother Nature can be seen in all the designs. But don’t expect perfection; natural flaws are what make cork so beautiful.
Another design goal? Creating products that are truly useful. And then adding a dose of style. Handbags are lightweight, full of pockets, and the natural look of cork is so stylish.
Shop all Cork Bags (link)
By now you've heard of capsule wardrobe. Bloggers, fashionistas and sustainability-lovers are going crazy over small, curated closets that are rotated seasonably. The idea of it is to pare down your wardrobe to a designated number of mix and match items. Every season, you can purchase a few high-quality pieces to incorporate into your rotation.
There are quite a few tips out there on which shirts, jeans and booties to incorporate into each season’s wardrobe, but how does the wannabee-capsuler incorporate accessories?
Some sources say that when it comes to a capsule wardrobe, jewelry, bags, hats and scarves should be limited. Others argue that changing up your accessories is essential to adding excitement to go-to styles. The choice is really up to you, but here are a few things to consider.
If you are going to limit your accessories….
Caroline Rector, the blogger behind un-fancy, is a huge advocate “the rule of three” when it comes to her capsule wardrobe. What is “the rule of three,” you may ask?
Let’s say you decide to limit your jewelry to three of each kind of accessories: three necklaces, three bracelets, three hats/scarves. Of the three necklaces you own, one could be a statement-making piece, one a simple piece and one is something in between.
For example, imagine how these three ethically-made necklaces could be incorporated into a capsule wardrobe:
If you aren’t going to limit your accessories…
You should still clean out cheap accessories that you’re not 100% crazy about. Capsule wardrobes are all about only wearing high-quality pieces that you’ll love. You want thoughtful pieces with stories behind them – not some trendy costume jewelry you bought on a whim.
Adding something new…
With capsule wardrobes, you’re only buying a few pieces every season. These pieces should be wardrobe-changing essentials that you’ve thought long and hard about. Accessories are the perfect item to update for multiple reasons: a single accessory can transform any outfit, it won’t add much bulk to your closet and it’ll take you into new seasons. After all, who doesn’t want to rotate between bold summertime necklaces and cozy winter scarves?
Of course, capsule wardrobes are much better for the environment than overstuffed closets. To make your wardrobe as green as possible, make sure that any accessories or garments you incorporate are sustainably sourced.
I got to thinking about why purses, handbags, clutches, totes, etc. were so diverse and how each one serves different purposes. How did fabric, leather & metal come together so we could move around better? When did this happen? What I wanted to know was how it all developed. When did our appetite to carry all our stuff in a handsome carryall begin?
Here’s a brief history. It’s simple really. Ever since men began needing to carry coins there has been bags & purses. Originally worn from the belt they provided a means for carrying personal items. In the early 1700’s people began sewing pockets into trousers and ever since then the purse has been a women’s domain.
From the 1700’s up until the 20th century women continued using bags made of metal hung from the waist. They were small and didn’t hold much. Even for traveling, women’s bags were often heavy and ill suited. In the 20th century the handbag was born. Until women began doing their own shopping, carrying items that were formally done by servants did the supply and demand meet up. Of course it was a woman who picked up on the early shifts in need.
Coco Chanel was credited as the marketer of the handbag. Her first designs called 2.55 (flap bag) out in 1929 was one of the first to market. It was designed to free up hands by adding a shoulder strap, inspired by the straps found on a soldier’s bag. The major luggage manufacturers followed with Hermès, Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior all launching handbags in the ‘40s and ‘50s.
As women worked, owned their own property and took on more and more responsibility, the uses and designs of handbags grew. We now have satchel, sling, tote, backpacks, duffel, baguettes, miniaudiere, bowling, buckets, doctors, hobos, messengers, saddle & envelopes to name just a few.
Originally bags were made from metal and as they grew larger, fabric and leather was used. Now a days we use cork, vegan leather, leather, fabric, metals and upcycled materials such as ReWilder's beer cloth.
So next time you want to buy a new handbag, think about the need because there is a bag for you and you can put it down to a celebration of equality. And we can never have too much of that!
Earth Day is an annual event celebrated on April 22 to demonstrate support for environment protection since 1970.
DID YOU KNOW?
- In 1970, Gaylord Nelson, (a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin), built a national staff of 85 to promote environmental events across the land.
- The first Earth Day was held on April 22,1970 when, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies.
- In 1990, Earth Day went global, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries and lifting environmental issues onto the world stage.
- Earth Day 1990 gave a huge boost to recycling efforts worldwide and helped pave the way for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.
WAYTS TO GET INVOLVED
- 1. March for science in National Hall, Washington DC, April 22, 8 am.
The day’s program will include speeches and training's with scientists and civic organizers, musical performances, and a march through the streets of Washington, D.C. as well as 514 Satellite Marches in many other cities across the U.S.
- 2. Things to do around your neighborhood
- Plant a tree
- Clean up a local park
- Educate people about environment protections
- Talk to your representatives about environment protections
- Buy green and sustainable apparel, food & household goods
- Read your labels
- Take a tech break, unplug and smell the roses instead
- Turn off your lights
- Go vegetarian or eat less meat
3. In Boston, MA Join One Savvy Mother on April 24, 2017
Earth Day & Fashion Revolution actions: Join us as we celebrate the efforts of #ecofashion community and beyond. (LINK TO RSVP & more information.
Sign a postcard that asks your representatives to give environmental and fair working conditions a voice. The postcards are preprinted and you just need to add your signature and address. We will send them to your representatives seeking equitable pay & fair working conditions for garment workers in the U.S. & abroad.
This post was written by Ningjing Lui, Student at Babson College, Wellesley, MA
What does the word “fabric” actually mean?
Thanks to the cotton industry’s marketing campaign, the word “fabric” conjures up our past & present lives – and clothes, curtains, carpets, upholstery, and more. We use the word in many ways. It’s the “fabric of social life” or the clothes we wear or the “fabric of the universe”. It’s the past that’s woven into into history. We wear it, sleep on it, sit on it, drive on it. Gloves made from fabric protect us from thorns and dirt and cold. In fact, we use “fabric” so often it’s become ubiquitous.
Thankfully there are different fabric compositions, known as cottons, polyesters & other synthetics, wools, silks, and vegetable fabrics such as hemp, jute & flax. Ultimately thought it is the stuff that covers us, protects us, becomes our past present and future but I ask now: What is it, really? How does it become a shirt or glove or hat or something from the past that cannot be rewoven?
The glossy beginning is easy to understand. Fabric starts like most things on earth: There are the seeds that grow into plants. Next, the plant creates a fiber. It’s the cycle of life, beautiful and natural. But, in cases of fabrics like Modal, a “seed” is made from vinyl acetate and methyl acrylate – these are also precursors to PVC pipes. Modal plants are “grown” in chemical plants (that can explode) in Texas or run without any environmental protection in China. In either case, once the plant is grown, we rip the stalk and process the fibers until we can spin it into yarn, knit or weave the yarn into fabric, and wind on machines until there is enough fabric to complete a bolt. We’ve gone from a seed (real or synthetic) to a processed bolt of fabric, which has been created for easy next steps in the process: transportation, measured for cutting & ultimately sold.
Wait, but isn’t the purpose of this writing to weave a modern day yarn into an impactful and meaningful fabric lesson for our lives and in so doing explore messages of modern day fashion? So, let’s get back to it.
Fabric has been used and written about in such great books as Dante’s “The Divine Comedy”. Also, Leo Tolstoy spoke of it. Poets especially like the term for its vivid imagery. The British poet Wilfred Wilson Gibson lived at the crossroads of the 19th and 20th century. He wrote, “Come, for the House of Hope is built on sand bring wine, for the fabric of life is as weak as the wind.“ Is he referring to fabric as a tapestry made from the wind? Which wind is he referring to? A weak light breeze off the water in summer? What kind of material looks like weak wind? Could you imagine a winter coat made out of a fabric described as weak wind?
~~~Buy the warmest winter coats available because they are made from Modal, a fabric that will protect your body from the elements of wind, wet & cold. But Modal is a synthetic fabric made from the seeds of chemical plants in Texas. Against your skin it will feel like a toxic fabric that is as weak as the wind. ~~~~~~
Would we all be happy if all our clothes, all the time, were the delicate color of eggshell? I’ll just have to say it – too vanilla – too boring for this world. Where would New Yorkers get their clothes if everything was white? Fabrics have to be drowned in dyes, which require more chemicals, processing, water, people, resources transport & waste to produce. Remember, we don’t want to live in a vanilla world of fashion. Where would Versace be without color?
Turns out there is a lot of waste in our weaving of fabric into life’s history. The biggest culprits that come to mind: Water - CO2 -Toxic chemicals – not to mention good old fashioned landfill waste. There’s so much of it that it’s a topic for another time. Just know that it is in 100,000’s of metric tons, millions & billions of tons of all of the waste.
“The future is a hundred thousand threads, but the past is a fabric that can never be rewoven,” claims author Orson Scott Card on fabric in his book Xenocide. What is he alluding to? Perhaps he means that you can’t rewrite history and the future is limitless. But I interpret his words to mean that cotton is grown from a seed that needs 400 gallons of water to grow, it takes tremendous resources to create enough cotton to make a t-shirt, none of which can be returned to the earth. Not the water, energy or t-shirt itself. As we look to the future, we should be thinking about our use of resources – that can’t be rewoven. Fabric can be but by switching from industrial growing practices vs. growing organically we can “reweave” the story. Organic cotton takes the same amount of water to grow as non-organic but it doesn’t use all the bee killing fertilizer & GMO properties used by BIG AG.
All of this “processing” of fabric in poetry and everyday fabric is giving me whiplash. Let’s bring it back to looking at the fabric of our life.
Fabric is bold like tapestry. Flimsy like gauze. As strong and beautiful as silk. People use it for power. We protect ourselves with it. We hide ourselves with it. We make statements with it. Famous writers use it to describe our past and our future as a way to describe time moving.Ultimately, it is the substance that covers and defines us. How we choose to wear it, to blanket our world and reuse what we already have will weave a future of weak wind, unless we consider both the origin and life cycle of all the fabrics in our lives. What's in your closet?
Ok…where was I?
There is a tremendous stigma about older clothes that needs rethinking.
|Making garments last should be a source of pride|
Even paying for repairs by professionals is (most of the time) more economical compared to replacing items.
- Try learning to repair socks and getting shoes resoled. By doing this, you can make those clothes you love and wear regularly last longer, reducing the chances of buying new pieces of clothing that have a future in the back of your closet.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in 2014, more than 16.2 million tons of textiles were generated, but only 16 percent of clothing and shoes were recycled.
If all else fails and repair is out of the question then here are a few ideas to keep those items out of the landfill.
- Use old handbags for your daughters dress up time or as a bag for extra toiletries.
- Repurpose leather belts into a dog collar or fill an old pair of boots with sand and use it as a door stopper. Be creative with how you can use them. Etsy is also a great source of inspiration.
- Support local businesses in your neighborhood like tailors & cobblers. Not only do you extend the use of your items but bring valuable dollars to these mom and pop stores.
Finally, many of us have a closet full of old handbags, leather jackets & shoes. If you are like me there are some that have been repaired more than once. Sometimes the item is just too far gone. What can you do?
- Donate to artists and DYIers so they can "reclaim" the leather into new functional items. A quick google search will yield local donation centers.
- Have you seen Palomino Jewelry? Katie uses reclaimed leather & hardware from old handbags to create her jewelry designs. Check out Palomino Collection here
Do you have old furs that are taking up space in your closet and you want to rid yourself of them? Donate between January and April 22 (Earth Day) those furs to Coats for Cubs that use them in the rehab of orphaned animals around the U.S.
This project was a lot of fun to do. The point was to dissect outfits that I wear. Who made the apparel? How long have I owned them? Is it a good outfit? It's not that my closet is anything great mind you. What if it was like Barbie’s dream house closet? Now that’s a closet! But mine, well, just an ordinary closet unfortunately.
But that’s the point right? To show, to encourage, to teach how your closet can be more “green”. Right now, the apparel & fashion industry is the 2nd most polluting industry on Earth. Yes. Right up there with polluting oil and gas industry. The only way to change that is through the choices you and I make about how we dress & adorn.
So what are my takeaways?
- Quality over Quantity - When buying clothing, accessories & shoes buy the highest quality you can afford.
- Shop in your closet – Strive to wear what you already have at least 30 wears.
- Ask for better standards – Talk to your favorite store and let them know you care about how your clothes are made and from what material they are from. i.e. Ask for organic and no sweat shops.
- Buy less – If you shop less, you’ll have more money to buy quality (see #1) but don’t feel guilty when you do shop just buy “right”. i.e. Shop OneSavvyMother.com because you know the products are made right and stylish.
- Support Eco fashion – Put your money where your mouth is and move away from luxury designers until they change their dirty ways. Support the young industry of Eco fashion designers & retailers instead.
- Buy Consignment – Go thrifting for jeans, jackets & shoes. You can buy great items for a fraction of the cost of new and you'll be supporting #30wears.
Leave us a comment about how you'll make a difference and opt in with your email address so we can stay in touch. We’ll give you $25 towards a purchase at One Savvy Mother.
Thanks for reading #greenyourcloset and shopping onesavvymother.com.
Be sure and check out @slowfashionmom on Youtube or catch the first four blogs in this series:
The answer is no. Don’t be fooled by the man behind the curtain. Plain and simple, this sort of behavior is harmful and irresponsible. However, given all that; it is not going away because we don’t have the alternatives – yet. Think of it as driving a gas powered car, and not a Toyota hybrid but a Cadillac Escalade – all 12 cylinders. People do it and if you have one now – don’t throw it away. But please commit to buying something a bit less next time- is what we should be focused on. And beating the drum, buy the best quality you can afford and plan on holding on to it for atleast 40 wears.
So, the truth is out. I’m not a vegan nor am I 100% responsible – at least there are now more choices and alternatives than back when I started wearing these items and I can’t just bear to “throw them out”. I’m going to wear it until there are holes in it and then I’m going to seek out additional uses for it after that.
So what is the consolation prize for wearing all this leather? There is none. Perhaps since the boots are the first pair I bought in 4 years and are the only pair in my closet I can get something? A girl has to wear shoes right? My last pair has been retired after 4 years. Not gone, just being preserved in the attic waiting for styles to change back again.
So don't fret. This is a marathon not a sprint. No one is perfect but if you are considering how to #greenyourcloset I hope that we have helped you gain some confidence and ideas.
Breakdown of what I wore:
Leather jacket with fur – Made by Guido Lombardi in Italy. Purchased in 2011. 25-30 wears & still going. Fur is fox and although super warm my conscious does not allow me to forget about the bad conditions that animal had to endure. I would not buy fur again.
Brown floral jersey – Made by New York 77 Made in France 70% cotton 30% rayon. Purchased in 2013. 20 wears & still going.
Grey Slacks – Made by Crea Concept in Turkey. 93% viscose. These were gifted a year ago but today was the first time I could fit into them. (Thank you Bar Method workout). I noticed after arriving to meet my colleague, that they had a tiny pin hole on the front of the thigh. Not sure what I’ll do with them.
Suede Wide Belt – No name – passed on from a previous owner – I’ve only worn it a handful of times.
Black Leather books – Frye Boots – no information on sourcing – gifted 2016
Socks- Made by Able Made New York Haute Style -100% cotton owned since 2016
This was the 4th set in a 4 part series - Double Wear - A peak into our closets. Be sure and check out @slowfashionmom Youtube video series. to see the other half.
Thank you for reading & watching. Please leave a comment.
need a pair of camo socks for your marching days. You know where you can find them here:
Marching clothes have to be comfortable & fit right, bear up to the weather, and be stylish. Two weeks before the march I went to my closet and had a look around. I started by taking anything out that might work for my purposes then eliminated from there. Taking stock of what I was missing, I thought about how important those missing articles were & then started putting together outfits. This process took several weeks.
We were traveling ultra-light so I doubled up on day 1 and day 2 bottoms. I chose a pair of black jeans because I could wear them to the march, later that night for dinner & the next day. Although I should have known better I purchased them new about 6 weeks ago. What's my excuse? I don't have one. It's rare for me to go shopping and for the record I own 4 pairs of jeans – 2 of which are 6 years old & the 3rd pair is 2 years old. The Schoen Yu are the 4th pair.
label from my new jeans
Buying sneakers from consignment Since my last pair has been relegated to walking the dogs and too embarrassing to wear anyplace else I needed a pair of sneakers. My winter hiking boots seemed too military for a march and I'd need a pair of sneakers for springtime anyway. Going to the consignment store in my neighborhood I found a pair of white Adidas kicks in my size which was amazing. They had clean soles having never been worn. Does this balance on out the new jeans?
Into my closet I went: After I bought the sneakers I was all set because the rest I found in my closet. I switched at the last minute to something a bit warmer than my original plan. My base layer is a hand me down from my mother. This is literally a base layer, see through, cotton turtleneck. Embarrassingly holey and runny I haven’t found a replacement so I keep wearing it, it’s that good. Next I had a zip up loose fitting cotton black/grey top I purchased 2 winters ago for a ski trip (it was casual but edgy). Made in U.S. but not name branded this is what I use as a sweatshirt. I was thinking layers.
Poncho vs. winter coat: The forecast was calling for milder temps than your typical January (Climate change?). So, I decided to bring a poncho for ease. I chose the Shupaca alpaca wool gray that makes even the slummiest outfit chic, plus it's warm, very lightweight & water resistant.
Accessories: You can't travel with a kid without carting unnecessary items so I packed along the handy & cool cross body clutch aptly named "in the clouds" dubbed for its large zipper pulls in alternate color. I carried ID, health card, cash, tissues, a package of crackers & a very small barbie doll. Strapped under the poncho no one was the wiser. I also used it at dinner and the next day too. I'd rename this indispensable. I added my Zaya bracelet and I was off to the races, er, march looking and feeling strong. Day 1, I wore Able Made Haute socks & Day 2, I wore Ozone sheers.
Ultimately, our trip was a quick one but we didn't buy one bottle of water (water bottle was toted around too), carried only one small suitcase for two of us, only had one new piece of apparel, wore clothes multiple times, and tried to step lightly on the Earth as we marched loudly for our rights.
Caption: . Heading over to Independence Way
Clothes for 2 days, sneakers, underwear/socks, nightgown, clutch & NT cork make up bag
Want to see more information on these items?
Double Wear – How sustainable is my closet
A look at Athletic Wear
I don’t know when it started, but I have mostly skipped the trend of wearing athletic wear all day long. I saw it, mind you – on others- just not on me. I didn’t work out and I didn’t like
the look.” Although I owned one pair of “yoga” pants that I wore when out walking the dog, I never really thought much about it.
According to Vogue (Jan 7, 2016 The 5 Golden Rules of Athleisure: Is It Really Acceptable to Wear Yoga Pants All Day Long?) there are rules and trends for wearing athletic wear. Since there are Official Rules, it’s now a societal norm to be seen all day long in your workout clothes. Even if you’re a mother of 3 running around with toddlers and living in Los Angeles I still think it’s an ugly trend.
The Bar Method changed everything: I joined The Bar Method in October 2016. For those of you who don’t know (me included, circa September 2016) a bar workout consists of a teacher and students, a few props (mainly a ballet barre) and a lot of isometric strength training (keeping your body still while you painfully work one muscle group). I joined one day on a whim and found I really liked it, so I’ve stuck with it. The women who work there and lead classes are friendly and don’t mind when I fall over (bad balance). I have even struck up a few casual conversations with like minded folks in class. I hope to continue with this workout place.
Cotton is no longer a preferred workout fabric: Mind you when I started I still didn’t have any workout clothes but it was apparent after the first class I was going to have to invest in some new gear. My problem of course is that fabrics that whisk sweat away from your skin and hold in your thighs like you are 18 again doesn’t equal “environmentally friendly” fashion. Cotton is no longer used because when it becomes wet it absorbs the liquid and becomes heavy. A no-no in today’s world. Fabrics rich in polyester and chemicals are now the norm. Ugh! You won’t find much of that in my closet …or will you?
Finding Compromise: I had to find a compromise and since I needed to wear something other than a shirt that rode up my belly (egad) each time I moved or a pair of pants that have seen about 200 wears and were 5 years old I headed to the Gap to find something I could add to my repertoire. Since the Gap was exactly 20 feet away from the Bar Method class I attend and I had a few “gap bucks” it seemed the easiest alternative.
My Outfit: I don’t normally shop the Gap except to maybe to grab a t-shirt or shorts for my kids occasionally (I don’t like their quality, style or selection) so I held only low hopes.
- I bought a pair of pants & top. Nothing fancy. Nothing too over the top.
- My pants are cotton & spandex.
- I owned 3 sports bras so I figured those would get me through each week.
- I forgo the socks with the silicon on the bottom to keep you from slipping …but I soon succumbed. (See above: bad balance).
Since purchasing, I wear the pants 2-3 times a week and rotate the shirts with a few cotton t’s I already owned. In this post I’m wearing my Pitbull t-shirt but I also rotate a workout shirt that my husband’s company handed out as swag a few years ago. I rinse the pants after each wear and give them a good washing with SIMPLY CO laundry soap once a week.
I’m bored with my one outfit by now and often eye the pretty designs I see on others in the class with envy but alas….I’ll wait til spring to get another pair of pants and top (thinner for warmer weather). I’d like to find a company who makes athletic wear with environmentally friendly fabric like organic cotton and without harmful chemicals. The Gap and Athletica both strive to be responsible but do not go far enough in my opinion. But that is an elusive goal, and I may have to compromise.
You won’t find me in these clothes all day long but hopefully they will be in my closet for a while .
The writer attends The Bar Method in Wellesley, Massachusetts. They can be found at www.Wellesley.barmethod.com.
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Note: The Gap and Athletica both strive to be responsible but do not go far enough in my opinion.
Missed Part one? Click here to read Part 1: