When talking about eco-friendly fashion, the focus is generally on the clothing—bamboo, organic cotton, hemp, stinging nettles, and so on. But what about the accessories? The handbags, jewelry, belts, and every woman’s favorite: shoes. Fortunately, eco-conscious fasionistas have plenty of options when it comes to sustainable accessories.
Sustainable handbags come in the form of recycled leather, eco fabrics like organic cotton, hemp, and bamboo, recycled sails, even candy wrappers. A great place to start for one-of-a-kind accessories with an eco-friendly twist is EcoEtsy, the place crafters come to sell their wares. This group of creative folk is dedicated to using less packaging and materials while making something beautiful.
For a more classic look, check out Beth Springer’s collection. Springer works out of Venice, California, and makes her pieces from recycled vegetable-dyed leather and other reused materials. Any waste in her studio is incorporated into some other creation.
In recent years, a harsh light has been cast onto the diamond industry and most people understand what a “blood diamond” means. What many people may not realize though, is the environmental devastation that goes into mining these conflict diamonds. Diamond mining in Africa has poisoned the water surrounding the mines and wiped out precious agricultural soil, not to mention the loss of human life. Brilliant Earth is a jewelry company based in San Francisco that sells Canadian diamonds that are guaranteed to be conflict-free and harvested in an environmentally friendly fashion. Five percent of profits go towards rebuilding African communities that have been harmed through blood diamonds.
Tribal Chick showcases a really interesting collection of eco-friendly jewelry. Their pieces are made from seeds and fruit. Before you picture an elementary-school project that leaves you with flies buzzing around you, think again. These pieces are elegant with a funky twist. The seeds look like colorful beads and the fruit is shaped into soft petal-like shapes.
Footwear is the great equalizer. Everyone wears shoes, you don’t have to be tall, thin, or rich to wear fabulous, fun shoes. Simple Shoes is a great line that they admit has taken years to perfect. Their materials range from recycled tires, inner tubes, hemp, plastics, bamboo, and coconut to the just-added, recycled carpet padding. Their shoes reflect their name and are casual with minimal bells and whistles, but are extremely comfortable and versatile.
If you want a little more pizzazz and variety, check out Moo Shoes, a vegan shoe store located in New York (don’t worry, they ship!). They have a huge collection, from your basic black stiletto to turquoise strappy sandals, and they do carry men’s shoes as well. Moo Shoes only works with companies that have fair trade standards with environmentally-friendly practices.
Check out your local scene for eco-friendly accessories and when people ask where you got your purse, necklace, or shoes, you can teach them how stylish sustainable fashion can be!