If you are searching for a more sustainable bag alternative, look no further. Our Circular Bags are made from a 50% recycled & 50% organic cotton blend, and are designed to be recycled - again, and again, and again.
Creating the most sustainable Bag possible.
What is a sustainable bag?
Before we get into the stats, impact metrics, and production processes, it is important to clarify that a 100% sustainable bag simply does not exist. Why, you ask? What about all those big fashion companies who are claiming to sell 100% sustainable bags and clothes? Well, they’re greenwashing, and - for a lack of a better phrase - full of shit...
The fact of the matter is that whenever you produce anything, materials are used, and energy is expended throughout the making process, which is always going to leave a footprint. And since the supply chains of garment production are extremely complex, no amount of CO2 offsetting is going to justify calling a product 100% sustainable; not even our ‘sustainable bags’. That is why we will always try to use phrasing that will make the descriptor of sustainability more relative, like more sustainable bags, as they are more sustainable bags when compared to the industry average - they will never be 100% sustainable. So, with that in mind, let us tell you exactly how our sustainable bags are more sustainable than all the average normie bags out there. In our case, a more sustainable bag starts with its material composition, which in our case is a blend of 50% recycled and 50% virgin organic cotton. The bag fabric, which is a custom developed, heavyweight twill, was produced in Portugal, and was used to hand stitch our more sustainable bags here in Amsterdam. Once assembled, they were naturally dyed using dyestuffs such as walnut husks, cutch extract, oak gall, and weld. Some of our bags undyed however, making them even more sustainable bags than our dyed sustainable bags (let that one sink in for a minute). Anyway. The most notable factor which grants us the confidence to describe our bags are more sustainable bags when compared to the industry average is the fact that they are designed to be recycled once they reach the end of their life cycle. This is made possible by our circular design approach, combined with our SWAP program, which enables us to keep our sustainable bags out of the landfill by taking them back, shredding them into fibers, and turning them into new ones. As you have probably figured out by not, it is this circular process that is the foundation of our brand name (Full Circle), and is ultimately what enables us to proudly stand behind the fact that we make more sustainable bags. If you are interested to learn more about our production process, make sure to check out our sustainability section.
How do you measure the impact of a sustainable bag?
At our core, we stand for radical transparency across every aspect of our business. From our pricing structure, supply chain and production partners, to the environmental impact that we have as a brand - we lay our cards on the table...
and always encourage our community of customers to ask questions about anything that might not be clear. When it comes to the environmental impact of our more sustainable bags, it is measured and outlined in a Life Cycle Analysis (LCA), conducted by an independent third party organisation called True Cost Label. The reason we do this is because when we claim that we make more sustainable bags - or any other garment for that matter - we want to be able to back it up with credible, third party verified data. Each Life Cycle Analysis starts by breaking down the product at fiber level, looking at every single kilogram of material and type of fiber within it. Based on this, the environmental and social impacts of the production of raw materials and the manufacturing of those materials into fabric is collected and used to calculate the total impact figures. From the spinning of yarns using fiber, to the weaving of yarns into fabric, the dyeing, the cutting, sewing, packaging and shipping and anything else imaginable within the typical supply chain of fashion products. Another important aspect of the LCA is transport. For every product that True Cost Label investigates, the transportation route from the very first fiber to the brand’s store is tracked down and included in the impact calculation. This way, the total amount of kilometers our sustainable bags have traveled is displayed in its True Costs (see what we did there?). All in all, having this LCA conducted by a third party organisation gives us the confidence (as well as concrete data) to claim that we do in fact sell more sustainable bags when compared to the industry average. If you would like to see by how much, you can download our full LCA here.
What is a circular bag?
As we mentioned in the previous section, one of the key reasons we stand behind our claim for being able to produce more sustainable bags is the fact that they were designed based on circular design principles...
Circular bags are made in such a way that once they cannot be used anymore, we are able to shred, recycle, and bring their raw materials - which, in the case of our sustainable bags, are cotton fibers - back into the supply chain to be used over and over again. Contrary to popular belief, the recycling process of textiles is quite complicated, and its success largely depends on the material composition that is being recycled. Mono materials, meaning they are composed of only one type of material - in this case cotton - are easiest to recycle as they yield the highest percentage of re-usable fibers when compared to fabrics made from material blends containing plastic and cotton, for instance. The twill fabric of our circular, more sustainable bags is made from a 50/50 blend of recycled and virgin organic cotton fibers. This, however, does not only apply to the fabric, but also to the labels and stitching yarn that are used to construct our circular bags. This will ensure that, once the bags are not wearable anymore, they can be thrown into the recycling machine in their entirety, without leaving small components behind that cannot be recycled (You can probably tell, but we take the claim of zero-waste pretty seriously). Once recycled, the old sustainable bags yield an output of cotton fibers, which are then blended with virgin organic cotton fibers and spun into yarn. This yarn is then woven into fabric and used to make new circular garments, whether it’s more sustainable bags, hoodies, T-shirts, or any other type of garments that our design team comes up with. The only reason we currently do not make circular bags from 100% recycled cotton is because the mechanical recycling process damages the cotton fibers, essentially meaning that a fully recycled cotton garment would not be as durable. And since our objective is to make the most sustainable bags possible, we opt for a 50/50 blend of recycled and virgin organic cotton fibers in order to ensure that the fabric, and in turn our circular bags, will last for as long as possible. After all, the most sustainable bags are the ones you use for as long as possible (aka not buying new ones all the time), so we try our best in helping you do so by making sure they are made to last.
Are Full Circle bags more sustainable than 100% Organic Cotton bags?
Thankfully, sustainability is becoming increasingly important to people, which is why many brand nowadays are opting to produce bags from organic cotton, as opposed to conventional, non-organic cotton. While this is a good first step in the right direction...
we believe that the use of organic cotton should be the bare minimum when it comes to the production of more sustainable bags, or any type of garment production for that matter. You might be wondering what a better alternative to organic cotton might be. Is there such as thing? The answer is yes; the most attainable and scalable solution for us at this point in time is to reduce the amount of virgin cotton used in the production of our garments, and instead increase the use of recycled cotton. As it currently stands, our ideal fiber blend for durable fabric lies at a 50/50 blend of recycled and virgin organic cotton. This helps us make more sustainable bags because it re-uses an existing resource, in this case recycled cotton, and does not require virgin natural resources to be extracted or grown. So, by simply using 50% recycled cotton, we reduce our bags’ impact by 50% when compared to 100% organic cotton bags. But we don’t plan on stopping there, as producing more sustainable bags is a never ending process. We are currently working on changing the virgin cotton fiber used in our 50/50 cotton blend from organic cotton to regenerative cotton, as this holistic way of cotton production is even more sustainable when compared to organic cotton production practices.
So yes, our sustainable bags are at least 50% more sustainable than their 100% organic cotton counterparts...for now.