Handbags for Green-Spirited Fashionistas

I love large purses. I like knowing that I can shove most of my life into a bag and retrieve any small part of it faster than I can say supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, most of the time. I shrug off the back and shoulder pain for this convenience and never complain about it.

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I love the eccentricities of bags. I once bought a second-hand Judith Leiber purse from an estate sale in the Hollywood Hills. It glittered in the miraculous L.A. sun and sparkled under night’s light. The Leiber purse was white and had Australian crystals all over the bag.

It was like carrying a snowball — a very expensive and fragile snowball.Unfortunately, I’m guilty of buying expensive bags. I’ve promised myself too many times that this will be the last purse I ever buy, but six months later I’ll walk through some store or see something online and claim that I’ve found the greatest purse ever.

A few weeks ago, as the Olympics were getting underway and Michael Phelps had already won two gold medals, I declared to the husband, “I need a new purse.” He shrugged his shoulders as he retorted, “What about all those other bags in the closet?” “Those are old and I don’t have that many anymore since I donated most of my bags last year,” I proclaimed. “That’s too bad,” he said indifferently. Hmmm… I was going to need a different approach. Maybe he was right, maybe I don’t need a new bag.

I looked at the old bags in my closet. They were all in great shape, but I had used them for years and needed something new to tote my life around in. Perhaps this was a great time to look into “green bags,” but could I find one that I could use on a quick jaunt to the grocery store and also for a night out on the town?The answer is Yes! I found four companies that offer trendy, earth-conscience handbags for the most stylish of women.I adore Evelina’s Vegan Queen City Bag.

Made from 100% PVC-free reptile-embossed eco-polymer, the City Bag is everything a green girl wants in a bag: eco-friendly, non-toxic, organic, sustainable, cruelty-free and made in the US. Evelina’s bags are also tres chic and give any Gucci or Louis Vuitton bag a run for its money.

Alright, so the price is on the high side — $855 — but who says eco-friendly bags have to be cheap?Matt & Nat’s Grandmaster tote ($200) deserves a spot on Vogue’s front cover. The tote is made from animal- and cruelty-free products.

Every season, Matt & Nat brings ingenious designs made from unique materials to fashionistas everywhere. For the 2008 season, Matt & Natt created stylish bags made from recycled plastic bottles, and also turned recycled bottles into felt.

This is definitely an innovative Canadian company whose creativity stems from their emphasis on the treatment of the environment and their true love for fashion.I’m intrigued by the bags from Refind Originals; they are bohemian and luxurious at the same time.

Styled from recycled leather coats, many of the accents from the coat’s previous life are used, such as the buckle and belt. Refind uses reclaimed blouses and skirts to line their bags.Based in Paris, matieres a reflexion offer one-of-a-kind bags. I can’t get the Flat Serif Cabas out of my head.

Each bag is made from one vintage garment, like a leather jacket or a pair of pants and skirt. Laetitia Azpiroz and Cyrille Railliet will even make a bag for you out of an old leather jacket based on your design. So the next time you’re in Paris, stop by matieres a reflexion and get your creative juices flowing.

All these designers redefine what fashion is and can be, and force us to be more conscience about our world. The great thing is that these aren’t the only companies around offering eco-friendly bags. You’d be surprised at how many companies are choosing innovative routes in the name of fashion. Cheers to all of them!Gotta run, the Grandmaster tote is calling my name.

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