Nothing quite matches the quiet satisfaction of being prepared for the unexpected thanks to a fully equipped handbag. A friend accidentally cuts their hand whilst wearing a white top, but you swoop in with a plaster to the sound of applause from passers by. Your phone is about to keel over dead just as you are expecting an important phone call, but you rise like a phoenix from the ashes and recharge it on the go with a portable charger. The heavens open on the way to a wedding, but you triumphantly shelter your family and their hair dos under your umbrella. The victory of organisation is sweet.
Here’s a comprehensive guide for stocking up your handbag inventory so you too can enjoy a victory over the unexpected emergency, choosing products for their sustainability and animal-friendliness as always.
Vegan Handbag by Nikki Reed x Freedom of Animals
The Veronika Tote in pebbled navy by Freedom of Animals is a total classic design, but made with the finest sustainable and cruelty-free materials. Their faux leather is post-consumer, and it’s lined with organic cotton. It has an inner zip pocket and two accessory pockets, handy for avoiding the inevitable panic of not being able to find your bar of vegan chocolate in your bag. It carries a 13 inch laptop too, so it’ll fit all our recommended handbag essentials and then some. It’s available to pre-order now and they ship internationally, just like us.
Lipstick by Eyes Lips Face
Being prepared with a bit of lippy in the event of sudden dinner plans is a good way to feel instantly glamorous when you’re short on time. E.l.f Cosmetics are all completely vegan and cruelty-free, so you can choose anything from their website without needing to scour the ingredients lists. Their Studio Mineral Lipstick is hydrating and long wearing, and it has a 4 star rating from over 1000 reviews over the years. I think it’s safe to say this a tried and tested favourite for the vegan make-up addict.
Nail Varnish by Barry M
We are currently living in the era of the coconut, with it’s millions of uses infiltrating nearly every aspect of life. The latest is Barry M’s cruelty-free and vegan-friendly Coconut Infusion range of pastel shades. Blending coconut water and coconut oil, this varnish is designed to hydrate the nails, so much so that you won’t need to apply a base coat. They recommend painting two layers on for a more opaque coat. All these colours are so bang on trend, that it will be hard to choose just one colour.
Lip Balm by Lush
Lush’s Rose Lollipop lip balm is vegan-friendly, and all of their products and ingredients are completely free of animal testing. This particular lip balm has a gentle floral fragrance, and is made using moisturising Fair Trade shea butter, organic castor oil and restorative rose oil, making it handy in a chapped lip situation. Reviews say the fragrance also has citrus elements and isn’t overpowering, and the texture is gently exfoliating. One reviewer even dubbed it the best lip balm in lush ever, followed by 13 exclamations marks, no less! High punctuational praise indeed.
Organic Plasters by Organnii
You never know when you’ll need a plaster. Organii’s plasters are made with 78% organic cotton with a natural gauze, and allows the skin to breathe for a speedy healing. It didn’t occur to me before, but of course plasters are made using textiles, so should be sourced responsibly like the textiles used in fashion and footwear. These plasters are gentle on sensitive skin, and are totally free of synthetics and silicones. If you order two or more packets of these plasters, you get free delivery in the UK too.
Solar Charger by Maplin
The Solarpod Buddy™ Hybrid Solar Portable Power Bank is a good start for choosing more sustainable technology. You can charge your phone continuously wherever there is light, and fully charge your smartphone. If you’re caught in a sunshine slump, you can recharge using a USB input, as a back-up. It’s only ickle so it might even fit in one of the inside pockets in the Veronika Tote.
Hairbrush by Kostkamm
Most hairbrushes are made using plastic, but Kostkamm’s oval hairbrush goes against the grain, comprising of an olive wood handle and maple wood brushes. From my research, olive wood tends to be a by-product of the agricultural industry, so it has a reputation for being generally more sustainable. This brush is available from Ecco Verde.
Umbrella by Falcone
This umbrella by Falcone is made using 100% recycled plastic bottles, just like all Beyond Skin’s faux suede! Great minds think alike. This golf umbrella is windproof too, which I would argue fits into its sustainability. Too often has an umbrella flipped and mangled beyond repair in the wind, deeming it totally unusable afterwards. I think it’s wisest to spend a bit more on a sturdy, quality umbrella that’s built to last. Of course at 90cm in height, this particular umbrella might have to be carried in hand, spun like a Victorian gentleman’s cane.
Sunscreen by Jason
Jason’s Mineral Natural Sunscreen SPF30 protects against UVA and UVB rays. It’s water resistant for 80 minutes, which is good if you’re on holiday or simply experiencing traditionally erratic British summer weather. This sunscreen is also free from parabens, petrolatum, synthetic colours and is hypoallergenic, making it kind to sensitive skin. It’s not tested on animals, comes in a recyclable plastic tube, and is vegan-friendly. Tick, tick, tick.
Pen by Remarkable
Whether you’re jotting down ideas, noting contact details or simply drawing curly moustaches on people in the newspaper, having a pen in your bag is never not useful. These eco ball point pens by Remarkable are made with recycled paper and come in recycled cardboard packaging. It’s only £4.50 for 10 pens, so you can have a few in your bag, a couple in every pocket and one behind each ear, just to make doubly sure you’re never penless again. With every purchase, Remarkable makes a contribution to Keep Britain Tidy, a campaign encouraging people to actively care for their environment. Cushty.
Notebook by Froot UK
This charming little notebook by Froot has full of pages made from 100% post consumer waste using low CO2 production methods, and the cover is sourced from sustainable forests. Plus, the multicoloured cloud design is just too cute to pass up. All Froot’s notepads are handmade in the UK (Birmingham, to be exact), so if you’re in the UK, you’ll be minimising your carbon footprint.
Mints by Biona
To eliminate unwanted post-coffee, pre-meeting breath, a mint wouldn’t go amiss. Biona’s certified organic peppermints are made with natural peppermint oil and have no added cane sugar, and you can pick up a packet of these at Holland and Barrett. Plus, they’re vegan-friendly (unlike some other mints that have gelatine in them).
Earphones by Woodbuds
Wooden accessories are all the rage right now, so wooden in-ear headphones are the next logical step. For every 100 products sold, Woodbuds have pledge to plant a tree, collaborating with The Woodland Trust in the UK. Woodbuds are members of the 1% For The Planet alliance, which involves donating 1% of sales to environmental organisations. Lovely stuff.
Compact Mirror by Little Paper Vee
This floral leaf pocket sized mirror was designed, printed and made fairly in their South London studio. It’s only teensy, measuring just 5.9cm, so it’s the perfect addition for a handbag. As it’s so small, you could even fit it in a clutch on a night out. Bonus.
Sunglasses by Grown
Grown sunnies are made responsibly, and buying from this brand even helps fund eyesight aid to those in need. You might remember me raving about them in our Eco Beachwear blog a few weeks back, as so far they’ve funded sight-restoring surgery for 1000 people plus. Incredible work. For more sustainable sunglasses, check out that blog.
Images from Woodbuds/Not On The High Street, Grown Designs, Little Paper Vee/Ethical Market, Froot UK/Etsy, Remarkable, Maplin/eBay, Biona/Holland and Barrett, Jason/Naturisimo, Organii, Freedom of Animals, Falcone/Brollied, Lush, Barry M, Eyes Lips Face and Kostkamm/Ecco Verde.