Photos by Jaymi Heimbuch
The idea of making handbags out of upcycled trash like plastic bags or wrappers is nothing new, but what is new is how stylish they're becoming. Several makers of these upcycled bags were at San Francisco's Green Festival and the professional look was surprising - they've moved from craft faire fashion to something you wouldn't be surprised to find at Macy's or Saks.
This clutch is made from candy wrappers by Marilyn and Richard Ruvalcaba of EcoFashions. Eco Fashions uses recycled candy wrappers, newspapers and magazines, and the colors are vibrant. But that's not the only great thing about the company. They state, "We are involved in the design of our handbags and work with a rehabilitation center in Mexico City for young adults ages 18-28 similar to a juvenile hall. The young adults are given a choice to do rigorous work with very low pay or make these candy wrapper products and earn 5x more per week. When they get paid for their production they are able to pass this along to their families. As our business has grown it has given employment to others i.e. senior citizens, single mothers and the unemployed."
Not only are they diverting waste and using it to create something new, but they're also helping to create better lives for the people fashioning the bags.
They also make sure that there are more live trees than dead newspapers, so for every purse sold a tree is planted in the USA.
"We all use the products made out of trees everyday. Newspapers are one of the greatest users of this natural resource. At Green Veranda we believe that it is our responsibility, as a group, to replenish the world with what we use on a daily basis. Thus, we are giving back to mother nature what we take away from it, it's life."
Spreading out from bags, the company makes all sorts of accessories, like these earrings, and belts, bracelets and even home accessories.