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13 Functional (& Fun!) Purses Made of Recycled Materials

If you're in the market for a new purse, tote, or even cute pouch for all your new lipsticks, you might want to get one that's made out of recycled materials. Why? The average American discards seven and a half pounds of garbage every day, according to one sobering study. And all of that goes to landfills instead of doing anything else. Suddenly, that new handbag doesn't seem like a huge necessity. 

But what's a purse fanatic supposed to do? Luckily, the market for upcycled clothing and accessories is great, meaning that you can get something new (to you) without leaving much of an environmental footprint.

We found 13 functional, funky, and fun purses, totes, and pouches made out of old stuff such as old bike tire tubes, candy wrappers, and even military tents. And hey, maybe your new purse will inspire you and your family to reuse and recycle more, too!


Image via Splash News

Image via Looptworks

1Southwest Airlines Tote

Remember those old Pan Am bags that everyone had way back when? Think of this as the next generation.

These leather totes froom Looptworks ($185, at Looptworks) are made from upcycled Southwest Airlines leather seats and, in addition to saving more than 4,000 gallons of water per bag, have given jobs to adults with disabilities and are made in the US. Now you can hit the skies -- or the road -- with the perfectly broken-in bag. 

Image via Elvis and Kresse

2Soft Briefcase

At first blush, this bag doesn't say anything besides style and elegance, right? But it's also tougher than it looks. That's because this Soft Briefcase (around $325 at Elvis and Kresse) is made from upcycled British fire hoses and printing blankets. 

Proper, yet tough? We'll take 10. 

More from CafeMom: 20 Stylish Backpacks That Are Anything but Basic

Image via seabags.com

3Octopus Tote

Made in Maine from recycled sails, this Octopus Tote ($150, seabags.com) gets rave reviews for its size, intriguing illustration, and durability.

The bag features an illustration from the official expedition report of the HMS Challenger, the 1872-76 scientific cruise that established the field of oceanography, and the lining is printed with Charles Darwin's handwritten notes from The Origin of Species. Intriguing, indeed. 

Image via novica.com

4Jute and Leather Shoulder Bag, 'Clean Coffee'

Artist Alfonso Velasquez of Guatemala has created a Jute and Leather Shoulder Bag, 'Clean Coffee' ($199.95, novica.com) using jute from a coffee sack with Spanish and English messaging. The bag's chicness -- and don't forget the upcycleness -- will make you the envy at any outing. 

Image via etsy.com

5Edgar Allan Poe Recycled Book Purse

Edgar Allan Poe Fans: This may be the perfect purse for you. The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe are now available in purse form, with this Edgar Allan Poe Recycled Book Purse ($60, NovelCreations /etsy.com).

The book purse is leatherbound sans the pages. You can choose a handle (wooden, long strap, chain) and a button and can select add-ons such as book feet or book corners. A foolproof purse for Halloween!

More from CafeMom: The Only 16 Pieces You Need to Buy This Fall

Image via novica.com

6Multicolor Eco-Alternative Woven Tote

Indigenous artists from Oaxaca, Mexico, crafted this Multicolor Eco-Alternative Woven Tote ($79, novica.com) from partially recycled plastic. This tote is very strong, holding up to 35 pounds, making it a great bag for the farmers' market, for the grocery store, or to haul around extraneous kid belongings.

Image via overstock.com

7Recycled Cotton Canvas Olinda Tote Bag

If you like cotton canvas handbags, this Recycled Cotton Canvas Olinda Tote Bag ($79.99, overstock.com) has you covered. It's roomy enough to hold a bunch of kid things, but also can hold your travel and work necessities. And we bet if you throw it in the washing machine, it will still look good. 

Image via novica.com

8Recycled Shoulder Bag

Artist Maria Isabel Ramos used candy wrappers to create the Recycled Shoulder Bag, 'Celebration' ($32.99, novica.com). Bright colored wrappers alternate with silver wrappers, making this purse festive, charming -- and one to have for fall. 

Image via overstock.com

9Soda Pull Tab 'Lim' Handbag

If you're looking for a stylish, sustainable evening bag, look no further. This Soda Pull Tab 'Lim' Handbag ($109.99, overstock.com) will dazzle everyone with its sheen from recycled soda tabs. Handmade in Mexico, this handbag says style.

Image via alchemygoods.com

10Haversack Shoulder Bag

You don't need to be a cyclist to own this Haversack Shoulder Bag ($89, alchemygoods.com) that's made from bicycle inner tubes.  

Based in Seattle, all of Alchemy Goods' bags are made out of inner tubes. Of course, the company can't make handbags without tubes, so if you have used ones, bring them to one of the 550 shops that are part of the recycling program.

More from CafeMom: 10 Lipsticks We Love for Fall -- All Under $30

Image via buygreen.com

11License Plate Purse

Show your state pride with a custom-made state purse ($220, at BuyGreen). From Arkansas to Wyoming, you can make quite the state-ment (sorry, we had to).


Image via Keen

12Keen Harvest IV Daypack

It's not every day that you can find a bag that was once hurtling out of airplanes and helping its users navigate the skies. But that's exactly what Keen's Harvest IV Daypack ($85 at Keen) was in a former life.

The bag is repurposed from old paragliders and every season, its colors change. Now that's sky-high fashion.

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