Charlotte Bingham-Wallis and Maria Costa - FROM BELO

Winner of the The Pinatex Best Green Handbag

Great Britain

2019 Finalist Charlotte Bingham-Wallis and Maria Costa FROM BELO

Charlotte Bingham-Wallis and Maria Costa FINALIST'S PROFILE

What is your bag made out of?
We aim to create sustainable fashion from recycled and upcycled materials, reshaping them into beautiful products. Inner: Lined with fabric formed from plastic bottles and scraps of fabric. This bag contains 8 plastic bottles and 500 g of scraps of fabric. Outer: Main textile structure is made out of recycled cotton and 10 meters of refurbished decommissioned seatbelts.

From where do you source your materials?
We manufacture and source our materials in Brazil, that way, we reduce our carbon footprint, supply dignified jobs to local artisans- who have struggled to find work during the Brazilian Economic crisis - and help create a social impact as we donate meals to the homeless and in need for every product we sell. We work closely with mechanic shops in Belo Horizonte, Brazil where we source decommissioned seatbelts that were soon to be relegated to landfill and it takes 200-400 years to decompose - or even worse, burnt. And whilst these seatbelts were no longer suitable for use in vehicles, they were destined for bigger and better things. Having been cleansed, each seatbelt was given a new life as part of bag you see before you today. And we didn't stop there! Our plastic bottle fabric is sourced from a local manufacturer that takes scraps of fabrics from the fashion industry and blends it using heat with plastic bottles to make new thread. Then ta-dah! this thread is woven into the fabric we use for the lining. The same principle goes for the recycled cotton Fabric used as the main outer textile structure of this bag, a local co-operative picks up scraps of fabric, separates them into different colour and chop them up until they are turn it back into fibbers to make a brand new thread. Then the thread is woven into this beautiful fabric. The beauty of both recycled fabrics is that there is no chemicals, water or CO2 emissions in the process and all certified by the European Commission EU ECOLABEL. Just because a product has served its original use doesn't mean that it is without purpose. We believe that there's always another way in which we can give back to the world around us. Made from something once used to protect lives on the road, now they help to enrich the lives of the people of Brazil. Apart from being lovingly made by skilled workers earning above the Brazilian living wage, this bag donates meals to a charity in Brazil that helps support the homeless and in need. We want to leave the world a better place than when we found it, and by reimagining one person's trash into another's treasure, we can start the change to make that happen.

What is your design inspiration & why is working with green/eco friendly products important to you? Are there Instagram accounts you find inspiring?
Our design inspiration comes from what is happening around our Planet - the urge to be more kind and environmentally aware - and the L.L.Bean's Boat Bag. We wanted to give an ethical/sustainable funky edge to the most useful bag of them all. The etymology of the word tote is “to carry” and our aim is for all of us to carry kindness. Being king to people, to mother nature so we can make Earth a better and more loving place. The most inspirational Instagram accounts are from these four strong women: Orsola de Castro (Fashion Revolution), Lydia Firth (EcoAge), Stacey Dooley (Fashions Dirty Secrets) and Lucy Seagle (True Cost Movie) that show us that there must be another way that we can produce beautiful fashion and also be kind to the planet and the people that make them. We are inspired by the assumption that sustainable items don't have to look old or “recycled”. We are inspired by companies such as Frietag who have taken waste materials and turned them into something spectacular. We believe real beauty should never go to waste, that is why repurpose the discarded to create beautiful fashion. Working with green/eco-friendly products is so important to us as we only have one Earth, as cheesy as it sounds, there is no Planet B. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the Fashion Industry causes 10% of all greenhouse gas emissions. Producing more emissions than all international flights and shipping combined. Every second, one garbage truck full of textiles is burned or sent to landfills. It takes 2,700 litres of water to make one cotton shirt and that is what a person drinks in 2.5 years. Up to 16% of the world's pesticides are used in cotton farming each year. The chemical degrades the soil, pollute the water as well as poisoning cotton pickers. We believe it begins with us, designers, brand owners, society to help reduce the impact of fashion by being innovative and researching/developing new ways of recycling and materials that does not exploit the earth but helps clean it up, giving opportunity to future generations to live in a beautiful healthy place. Creating products like this has also given us an opportunity to educate many different people - from workers to clients - about the importance of recycling and what small changes they can do to make a difference. We believe that everyone™s purchase is powerful and together we can be the change we want to see in the world.

Bag Description
From Belo, Red Leka, Tote, Seatbelts/Recycled Plastic Bottles & Scraps of Fabric/Recycled Cotton, $217 Your purchase is powerful. Tough and durable by nature, the Leka Tote bag can carry the weight of the world on your shoulder like its nothing. Crafted from repurposed seatbelts once destined for landfill, this sustainable tote bag is the perfect work bag or even bag of life to get you through the day, fitting all your essentials in. Including lots of pockets and sections so that you can fit up to a 17 inch laptop in the especially designed lap top sleeve. This stylish bag has specific sections to fit your keys, phone, notepads. With the Leka Tote you can carry more than just your belongings, you can carry kindness. This bag saves from landfill 8 plastic bottles, 500g of scraps of fabric and 10 meters of seatbelts. 8 meals are donated to the homeless and in need in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

See other finalists from the 2019 handbag awards