Made from post-industrial waste, these handbags offer a sophisticated and sustainable approach to traditional paper shopping bags.
Move over, cloth tote bags. Fruit leather is in.
Though cloth totes have taken the world by storm – they’re considered a staple for Gen-Z who has grown up abolishing single use plastic – textile bags have been criticised for their overproduction and poor environmental impact.
Cloth bags are typically made from cotton fibres, which require 10,000 – 20,000 litres of water to grow per kg. According to a 2018 study, an organic cotton tote needs 20,000 uses before it matches the environmental performance of a plastic bag.
Looking for a sustainable solution for our shopping needs, Berlin-based students Lobke Beckfeld and Johanna Hehemeyer-Cürten fashioned a trendy-looking handbag that dissolves in water and can also be used to fertilise plants later on.
The SONNET155 handbag is made from post-industrial waste materials and has a similar lifespan of a disposable paper bag. It degrades over time and can be recycled, dissolved in water, or composted into soil.
The formula? Discarded fruit peels collected from local juice bars, and short, unusable cellulose fibres sourced from the textile industry in Berlin. A gelling agent developed from the cell walls of fruit, called pectin, binds the materials together.
Once combined with warm water, the pectin and textile fibres (no longer than 5mm) are cured for 5 days until the mixture creates sheet moulds that are strong enough to be sewn together.
The gradient, semi-translucent bag taps into our fixation with see-through bags, which playfully hint at what we’re carrying around with us. They come in a wide range of pastel colours like green, yellow, orange, and blue – taking inspiration from our natural landscape.
Though the designers of SONNET155 originally intended for their bags to replace paper shopping bags, the long, swooping handles and modish shape could see them doubling as everyday purses – that is, until they start to slowly degrade.
Obviously, the SONNET155’s Earth-friendly, circular design is no Bag For Life – but that’s the point. They are meant to be ‘fully integrated into biological life cycles’.
With the formula’s ingredients so easily accessible, there’s no reason manufacturers shouldn’t begin producing it or attempting to enhance its durability.
Take a minute to consider that 92 million tons of textile waste is created globally each year, most of which ends up in landfill. Now consider that we are currently on track to waste 134 million tons of textile materials annually by 2030.
On top of this, the European Commission Joint Research Centre reported that over 17 billion kg of fresh fruit and vegetables are wasted by European households each year. About half of this could be transformed into fruit-leather materials.
It’s clear there is no shortage of resources needed to develop sustainable versions of items we rely on every day. If companies are willing to begin a widescale production of one-of-a-kind, recyclable, fruit leather bags, we could have a better (and more fashionable) alternative to plastic, paper, and cloth carrier bags.
As we strive to halt virgin plastic production and become more resourceful, looking at items we previously considered ‘waste’ could offer up fantastic solutions, like the innovative designs of SONNET155.
And why not? A solid blueprint is already in place.
I’m Jessica (She/Her). Originally from Bermuda, I moved to London to get a Master’s degree in Media & Communications and now write for Thred to spread the word about positive social change, specifically ocean health and marine conservation. You can also find me dipping my toes into other subjects like pop culture, health, wellness, style, and beauty. Follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn and drop me some ideas/feedback via email.
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