Remember when you earned your first paycheck? The feeling of joy, independence, and the power to choose what you wanted to make your life look like with your own hard earned money. We didn’t realize it then, but every purchase we make has a large impact on the world.
Think about it: we vote every day with our wallets for the kinds of products we’d like to see. That’s powerful. And, to quote our favourite lesson from Spiderman – “with great power comes great responsibility.”
Living sustainably is important and urgent in our rapidly warming world. By shopping sustainably on an individual level, we move towards living more sustainably and putting pressure on large institutions to take climate action.
When it comes to fashion, there are a ton of sustainable brands selling clothes. But we tend to neglect our accessories, especially our bags. In this dearth of sustainable accessories, brands like Ziveli fill a big gap.
Ziveli is an eco-conscious lifestyle brand that sells handcrafted bags and baskets from sustainable materials like kauna reed, a grass-like plant, that are easily available in natural ecosystems. They’re sustainable, super chic, AND ethically produced. It’s a win-win for your triple bottom-line shopping goals
Ziveli Bags Are Sustainable And Sturdy
Bags are essential utilities and can make or break any outfit. But unfortunately, most of the bags we use today can be harmful for the environment.
Leather is one of the most popular materials used to make handbags, but its production can be a cruel process that leads to animal poaching and the devastation of natural ecosystems. Synthetic alternatives like neoprene or polyurethane are plastic-based, so once you toss these bags away they won’t biodegrade.
That leaves us with cloth bags made of cotton, canvas, or denim, which are good for the environment but not very durable. But then there are kauna reed bags like the ones made by Ziveli that are sustainable and sturdy.
Kauna reed is a water reed found in Manipur. These tall, grass-like plants grow abundantly in the region and have traditionally been used to make mats, furniture, and artistic items. The reed is cut near the base of the plant, dried in the sun, and then smoked from a fire to extend its life. Once the stems are completely dry, they are ready to be carefully woven into all kinds of products.
According to Ziveli, they source all their materials from farmers and local cooperatives, which cuts down significantly on the carbon footprint they would otherwise generate from long-distance transportation.
All products made with reed are biodegradable and non-toxic. No harmful chemicals are used in the process and the finished product ends up being a beautiful golden-brown colour. Traditionally, artisans add colour to the finished products using vegetable dyes only. Plus, the production process uses simple tools and doesn’t require heavy machinery, further cutting down on carbon emissions.
Thanks to this, all kauna reed bags are completely biodegradable and environmentally friendly to produce. So when you buy a bag from Ziveli, you can rest assured that you’re making a sustainable choice.
Unique Styles To Elevate All Your Outfits
A product is no good if it’s sustainable but not beautiful and useful, because why would you spend your hard-earned money on it? But that won’t be a problem with Ziveli.
Ziveli has a large collection of handbags, totes, slings, and pouches. Their bags come in all shapes and sizes, quite literally! They have your standard rectangular bags, more boxy versions, and some uber cute circular designs.
Most of their bags show off the unique golden-brown colour of kauna reed, but some of their bags incorporate colour through fabric, like these trendy ikat bags:
With all this variety, we were quite spoiled for choice at Ziveli’s store. That made it easy for us to find a bag suited to our needs: something we could hang on our shoulder and forget about. Although we had our eye firmly fixed on the totes and slings, if you’re someone with the presence of mind to remember where your bag is, you’re going to love their handbags and clutches. They’ve got some beautiful designs.
We wanted a hang-me-and-forget-me bag that would be big enough to be practical but small enough to be convenient. After falling for quite a few bags, we settled on this classic box sling named Naomi.
We loved its functionality and the elegance of its simple design. With this bag, the beauty of the kauna reed speaks for itself. Even if you buy the same bag we did, it’s going to look slightly different. That’s because the length of the kauna reed stems, their colour, and the tiny natural blemishes will differ from bag to bag, making each product truly one of a kind.
This bag is such a classic that it works with any kind of outfit, Indian, Western, or a fusion of both. The kauna reed has a summery look and feel that already makes us happy thinking of picnics and beaches. It’s the perfect grab-and-go bag for anything from running errands or meeting a friend.
Spacious and Well-Constructed
When our bag arrived, we were pleasantly surprised by how much stuff it could hold. It’s a medium sized bag with dimensions of 9.5 x 3.5 x 8 inch. Thanks to the no-fuss box design, you can fit pretty much all your essentials in this bag except your laptop.
We tossed in our outdoor essentials into this bag, starting with our favourite chunky wallet. Most of our medium-sized bags can’t take much more than that wallet so we were super happy when we realized there was space for much, much more. We threw in our earphones in a box, some makeup, sanitizer, and even a book before we ran out of things it made sense to carry. But our trusty sling from Ziveli was still game for more. You’ll easily be able to take a Kindle or most tablets with you on the go in this bag.
We pulled and tugged at our kauna reed bag to see if it would come undone. After all, it is essentially just intertwined reeds holding together. But we found that our Ziveli bag was firmly constructed and woven tightly together, so there was no chance of it coming undone. You don’t have to treat this bag gently.
The only flip side of using a kauna reed bag is that you have to be wary around water. Kauna reeds can’t withstand moisture. This bag is not waterproof, so you’re going to want to be careful with it in the monsoon. If it gets wet, wipe it and sun dry as soon as you can. To their credit, the website informs users upfront about how to care for their bag:
Ziveli’s Bags Empower Rural Women
What we love most about our Naomi Sling Bag from Ziveli is the fact that it’s been made by expert women artisans from rural and marginalized communities. The brand works with over 200 rural artisans and links them to modern markets, promoting a traditional craft while providing the dignified livelihoods the artisans deserve.
Ziveli stresses that they pay their artisans fair, living wages and also ensure a safe, comfortable, and clean working environment. This commitment is super heartening to hear from a fashion brand because the fashion industry is notorious for poor wages and even poorer working conditions. We’ll give you some context to help you understand why this is such a big deal for us.
Workers in the fashion industry (most of whom are women) are paid very poorly, earning the minimum wage or even lower. Most of these workers live in developing countries where regulations are lax and minimum wages are often lower than the amount of money needed to actually have a decent standard of living.
That’s why advocacy groups across the world are pushing for brands to pay living wages that reflect the income workers need to have to afford a decent standard of living for themselves and their families.
We’re happy that Ziveli acknowledges this difference. As conscious consumers, we have the power to hold them accountable to this claim. We’re speaking from experience! When we texted them on Whatsapp to ask about revenue sharing, they told us 35% of the price you pay for each product goes directly to the artisan:
Along with being paid poorly, workers in the fashion industry are forced to work long hours in unsanitary conditions, suffer abuse and harassment, and have often died in factory collapses like the catastrophic one at Rana Plaza, Bangladesh in 2013 which raised public interest in workers’ welfare.
So when Ziveli assures us that the artisans they work with are safe and can access a clean and comfortable working environment, we’re really happy to know that the people making our gorgeous bags will be treated with the dignity they deserve.
We love our sturdy, sophisticated, and sustainable bag from Ziveli, and so will you. The elegance of the handcrafted kauna reed is the perfect complement to any outfit. And the nature of the materials used mean that nobody will have a bag quite like yours – ever.
But the best part? When you buy from Ziveli, you enable women artisans from marginalized communities in India to feel the same joy and empowerment that you do every time you earn your paycheck.