Today is National Handbag Day (yes, it's true), described as a day for women to talk about handbags, celebrate them and even acquire a few new ones. So today we celebrate O My Bag, which recently won a Sustainable Leather Award from CSR Netherlands, the Centre of Excellence for Dutch companies that are striving towards corporate social responsibility.
When I first discovered the brand, I loved their whimsical take on classic styles and the quality and durability of the bags. Further research revealed a very serious company devoted to social enterprise and environmentally conscious processes. The process starts in Kolkata, India at the Sheong Shi Tannery. Hides are sourced from cows that died of age, illness or for the Muslim community and then tanned using a bio-synthetic process, comprised of a combination of synthetic tanning agents and natural vegetable extracts, and does not include harmful chemicals like chromium, heavy metals, formaldehyde, short chain chlorinated paraffins, volatile organic compounds and alkyl phenol ethoxylates. Off-cuts from this process can then be recycled or used as fertilizer, in contrast to chrome hides. The last phase of the tanning process -- the finishing phase -- is where surface coating is applied. O My Bag eco-leathers hardly have any finishing, this leaves them very open to change during use and gives them their vintage look over time.
Research has shown that a significant part of the environmental impact of leather is in the manufacturing process. Therefore, it is not only the chemicals used in the tanning process that should determine how eco-friendly the leather is. O My Bag bags are manufactured in a way that also considers the following areas of leather manufacturing that have a significant potential impact:
- Management of restricted substances;
- Energy consumption;
- Air emissions;
- Waste management;
- Environmental management systems;
- Water consumption;
- Control of manufacturing processes;
- Effluent treatment;
- Chrome management;
- Traceability of material.
Additionally, water is collected during the monsoon season and later recycled and used in the production process.
"Last but definitely not least, is the way the workers are treated when defining eco. At the Sheong Shi Tannery they are reminded constantly that all of them together (the management, the workers and the maintenance people) are like spokes in a wheel. They are like an extended family! They all need each other and must work together for the benefit of all. Every single person is important. The Sheong Shi Tannery provides their workers with health insurance, pension funds, support in their rent and education."
Celebrate National Handbag Day with a new O My Bag!