Handbags are difficult items to recycle but not impossible. However, consider either reusing your old handbags or upcycling them due to the stress they recycling brings.
The average American woman stockpiles handbags, owning between one and a dozen different style handbags.
The big question is what happens to all these handbags when they get replaced with a new one (women love to buy handbags, can’t blame them), or they get worn out and need to be taken away from the closet or drawer?
It’s no news that a handbag is a pain to recycle. This is why when it’s time to dispose of old handbags, it’s always advisable to consider reusing them (if they are still in good shape) or upcycling.
What are handbags made of?
Handbags are produced using different types of materials including plastic, leather (original and faux leather), cloth, and several other synthetic materials. They can be made by combining several items too. Some high-end handbags are usually made of the skin of exotic animals like crocodiles, snakes among others. Although, the practice of using exotic animal skins for the product of handbags is rare.
Handbags are often adorned with zippers, buckles, and decorations made of eye-catching materials like rhinestones, metal, Crystals among others.
The complexity of these materials makes them almost unrecyclable, and they won’t decompose in landfills. What this simply means is your old handbags would stay the same for years. Handbags are not essentially bulky, but when you’ve got ten handbags sitting together, they can take up a lot of space. This brings us to the question of recycling handbags.
How to properly recycle handbags
You should understand that recycling of handbags isn’t as easy as sending them over to a recycling company or placing them in your curbside bin. You see, due to the complexity of materials which they are made of, they are a difficult item to recycle.
The only proper way to recycle your handbag is to purchase one which can be returned to the manufacturer.
Some manufacturers have started implementing take-back programs, which is recycling. One of such is Timbuk2 known for making stylish messenger bags, backpacks, totes, diaper bags, fanny packs and other bags which you can use as a handbag seeing as they don’t make ‘handbag’ per se.
To recycle your Timbuk2 handbag, head to their website, and print a form. Put the form and the bag in a box and ship it to them. Alternatively, you can take the bag to their participating store scattered all over the country.
Stores are located in San Francisco, Toronto, Seattle, Denver, Venice Beach, and Chicago. You don’t pay recycling fees instead get a 20% discount on your future Timbuk2 bag.
If however, you purchase a handbag that isn’t recyclable, you can still properly dispose of them without the use of incinerators. One of the ways to do this is to give these handbags to either a person or an organization that’s able to reuse it.
How to reuse handbags
There are several ways of reusing handbags. As long as they are in good shape, they can be:
- Donated to thrift stores
- Sold through garage sales
- Listed on eBay
- Placed in consignment stores
- Left for your kids or nieces to be used in their dress-up games.
You can also donate your reusable handbags to a charity auction if they are a name brand. All you need to do is a little research to see purse auctions available in your area. Organizations make money with similar auctions like the in the bag handbags auction event for the American Red Cross.
If you eventually find one, inquire if they are willing to accept your used handbags which are still in good condition or if they only accept brand new handbags.
How to upcycle handbags
You can take apart your handbags and use them for other things (this is only recommended if you are experienced in leatherworking). The long straps can be converted to belts and even a new collar for Jane, the dog. You can also remake the smaller straps to fashionable items like bracelets. The body of the handbag can be made into a wallet or some other decorative items.
There are several really beautiful kind of handbag you just don’t want to rip apart. Upselling this handbag in their current form is also possible. Why not try to use these handbags to hold mails; you can also use it to hold scarves, hats, reusable shopping bags, or mittens.
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Buy handbags made of recycled materials
There are quite a lot of options for a recycled handbag. While some you can put together yourself using everyday second-hand materials, you can also purchase some of these handbags if you don’t like the idea of upcycling.
A great place to get ideas for upcycling is Pinterest. Look around the site for ideas of making handbags from t-shirts, jeans, sweaters, feed sacks (plastic or cloth), pillowcases, pull tabs from soda cans, towels, candy wrappers, and an endless list of recyclable materials.
You can also use the leftover materials from your upcycling project to make smaller items like holders for your smartphone and tablet.
If you would like a handbag made from recycled materials but you are too busy or lack the patience needed to craft it yourself, you can purchase on such sites as Etsy, and Amazon.