In order to answer your question, many different aspects of the handbags must be considered.
First of all, the material a handbag is crafted from affects its environmental impact. Designer handbags are created from leather. So let’s look at leather first. Raging cow’s requires an enormous amount of resources, and in order to keep up with demand for leather products people have been cutting down forests to create cattle grazing fields. For example in the Amazon, illegal forestation has been occurring for years. Since deforestation releases huge amounts of carbon, and forests play a huge role in regulating climate, anything that endangers the Amazon is bad for the environment.
Learn more about Amazon deforestation here: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/slaughtering-the-amazon
Secondly, you have to look at where the handbags are produced. Many designer handbags are produced abroad, and then shipped to the United States to be sold. In fact, the leather, the zippers and the other hardware may have each been produced in different facilities in different countries and in all assembled in one place. Often, none of the products that make up the actual handbag are manufactured in the United States. All of this movement of materials incurs great cost in terms of energy– usually in the form of burning fossil fuels to move the materials on ships or planes or cars.
A more eco-friendly choice for buying a nice handbag would be to buy from a local artisan, or from a secondhand shop. Buying things that are made locally is always best, and if you can avoid animal products in your purchases that’s great as well.
Lastly, designer bags are tied in with the cycle of consumerism that is depleting our environments resources more quickly than they can be replenished by encouraging people to purchase new items every season. Using one bag until it’s worn out is always the best for the environment.
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