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I think of a handbag in the same way I think of a garden tool: I want something that was made by a company I feel good about supporting and I want a product that will last forever (or close to forever). I’m happy to pay a little more upfront for a high-quality bag that I won’t have to replace in a few years.
The Ellington Handbag company is a group of dedicated people working out of a little building in Portland, Ore. They’re a small crew, but as the tags on their products state, they dream big and are ready to change the world — one bag at a time.
They make a wide selection of travel bags, purses, totes, wallets and more, and during the entire month of April (2012) Ellington is going to donate 20 percent of all sales of the Joni Series of bags (Joni Hobo, Joni Crossbody, Joni Wallet on a String) sold in the month of April on their website to the environmental non-profit organization Sierra Club.
I’ve been using the Joni Crossbody bag in brown (pictured above), and I really love it. It’s compact, which keeps me from carrying around a whole bunch of junk I don’t need. The bag is obviously of very high quality but isn’t too “flashy,” which a lot of women’s bags are these days.
Many of Ellington’s bags are made at an award-winning environmentally responsible tannery that uses efficient processes to reduce water consumption, energy use and CO2 emissions.
Their eco-leather comes in a variety of finishes. The Joni Collection features a supple, full-grain leather that is drum dyed to create rich hues. The distinctive pebbled texture of the leather is achieved using a milling process. Flat, smooth-grain leather is loaded into a large wood or metal drum, then natural waxes are added while the leather is turned in the drum — or “milled” — for many hours. This process transforms the smooth grain into a soft, pebbled surface.
If you’ve been looking for a new bag — or if need to purchase a practical, beautiful gift for someone special — I recommend this company.
Shelley Stonebrook is MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine’s main gardening editor. She’s passionate about growing healthy, sustainable food and taking care of our environment. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest and Google+.