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November 27, 2020 6 min read

More Australians are becoming more conscientious of their purchase and seeking awareness of where they are sourced. The increasing demand for eco-friendly goods, standards, and processes inspire us to look for companies that will be our partner in promoting “no waste movement”. 

Here at Temples and Markets, we have made it our mission to be active participants in restoring the beauty of Mother Nature as well as improving the socio-economic status that will help them rise above adversities. We’ve got sustainability in the bag, and we’re always doing our best in showcasing exquisitely beautiful ethically made products to Australian consumers. When it comes to bags, we have an impressive collection of unique bags that you will definitely love. We did all the work for you using our unique sustainability criteria so that we can provide you with a vast array of artisan tote bags that meet the different needs, tastes, and budget of consumers. 

You probably have a closet full of bags, so why should you buy a tote bag? A sustainable tote bag is as versatile as you want it to be. It's an all-purpose bag for when you go to the beach, to a date, or to the supermarket. Its spacious interior allows you to go about your day while lugging everything that you need; from small items like makeup to big bulky must-haves such as laptops, notebooks, and water bottles. 

So, what’s the hottest and most unique tote bags of 2020? We at Temples and Markets have compiled the top 5 sustainable and ethical tote bags that are absolute head-turners as well. 

1. Foldable Tote by CUSHnART

This is a reusable tote bag that you wouldn’t mind wearing every single day. It comes in various awe-inspiring designs, including charming Asian-themed artisan bags with prints featuring a lotus flower, red lanterns, and bamboo. This tote bag also comes in contemporary designs such as art deco, splash paint, and teal wall. 

This is the perfect bag for the modern shopper who values beautiful functionality. It’s a practical bag that you can easily whip out during last-minute supermarket runs and then fold in seconds after use. The material is silk polyester, making it easy to clean without risk of damaging the integrity of the fabric. Our  Foldable Tote by CUSHnART comes in two sizes. This tote bag is sourced from Vietnam, whilst the design was created by Australian-born designer Selene, who is utterly impressed by the quality of fabrics and impeccable craftsmanship in Vietnam. 

2. Elephant Foldable Shopping Bag by Friends “N” Stuff

You can’t get any more sustainable than owning this unique and practical Elephant Foldable Shopping Bag. This bag is made from water-resistant raincoats that come from end-of-roll and leftover fabrics from various garment factories in Cambodia. That means your purchase makes a positive environmental impact. 

The  Elephant Foldable Shopping Bag packs into a compact 16cm X 11cm pouch with a key ring for portability. It’s small enough to keep up with your busy lifestyle, a breeze to squeeze into your bag so you’re organised and shopping ready. The beautiful handmade bags are the brainchild of the non-profit organisation, Friends “N” Stuff, that helps families across Southeast Asia to generate income at home. It’s long-lasting, tough, highly reusable, washable, making it much better than traditional tote bags which are rather bulky, messy, and a chore to carry while remaining stylish at the same time. 

3. Hestia Rose Gold and Natural Canvas and Washable Paper Tote Bag

If you’re looking for a stylish tote bag that you can carry around in your hand, rather than your shoulder, this  Metallic Washable Paper Tote Bag with a small handle is perfect. It folds down flat and yet fits a substantial amount of things in it. You can wipe it down with a damp cloth or wash it in the washer for a thorough clean after carrying a batch of fruit, vegetables, seafood, or meat which can stain and stink the bag. 

This brand from Kaban is made from 100% cellulose fibres and manufactured in Vietnam following Fairtrade rules.  It’s easy to carry around, guaranteed eco-friendly and best of all, it's biodegradable. It’s the perfect shopping accessory with a touch of elegant style. They’re the best gift option for environmentally minded and conscientious consumers. The best thing about the Hestia Rose Gold and Natural Canvas and Washable Paper Tote is that its modern design makes it an ultra chic everyday tote. 

4. Patchwork, Embroidered & Beaded Tribal Style Tote Bag

All totes featured on this list qualify as sturdy, but Malee Bags’  Patchwork, Embroidered & Beaded Tote Bag takes toughness to the next level. The Thailand brand’s bag selection is made from fabrics strong enough to accommodate the volume of things you lug around daily. 

Each tote comes with its unique Boho-inspired and hippie aesthetics that appeal to both young and old stylish and socially conscious consumers. The fabrics are sourced from local communities in Thailand and it is an ideal bag for carrying anything. It features a zippered opening and interior zippered pocket for easy organisation, too.Malee Bags use one-of-a-kind fabrics embellished with metallic jewels and precious beads. 

5. Juan Ha Giang Ethnic Tribe Tote Bag

If you’re looking for a tote bag that could easily double as a hip handbag, we recommend the  Juan Ha Giang Ethnic Tribe Tote Bag by Hanoi-based designer, Valerie Cordier. The simple yet stunning shape and big-enough size will enable you to fill it with necessities; which means you can carry all your essentials without things getting unwieldy. The straps of this ethnic handbag are the perfect length to carry over your shoulder or at your side. The multiple interior pockets are great for storing small essentials such as keys and a phone, and a removable purse for your wallet, sanitiser, and hand cream. 

The use of hemp fabric adds to the durability for carrying heavier things like a full water bottle or a laptop. It is crafted from hand-woven fabric and embellished with stunning patchwork by the talented designers of Vietnam. 

6. Helping Hands Penan Rainbow and White Striped Hand Woven Basket Style  Tote Bag 

The  Rainbow and White Striped Handwoven Basket Bag is the perfect example of responsible and sustainable fashion. You can choose from five sizes; from small totes for quick errands to large totes that can fit all your beach essentials. It’s the best accessory for summer, giving you that fresh Bohemian vibe without having to change your personal style too much. 

It’s challenging to find bags that are not only beautiful but are responsibly crafted, too. Helping Hands Penan is instrumental in empowering the women of Borneo by teaching them traditional weaving skills that their predecessors knew by heart. The organization aims to revive weaving- a precious but dying trade to women, giving them a decent source of income while allowing them to celebrate their legacy through handicraft. 

7. Smateria “Admin” Shoulder Bag 

The design and production of the lovely  “Admin” bag happen under one roof. Smateria is a Cambodian social enterprise that specialises in repurposing fishing nets and other materials to design and produce stunning handcrafted bags of exciting shapes and sizes. Jennifer Morellato and Elisa Lion established Smateria in 2001 with a clear vision of giving locals the good working opportunities and a happy place where they can realise their dreams. 

The “Admin” bag is a medium-sized tote that comes in four colours. The recycled fishing nets that make up to 90% of the “Admin” are crafted skilfully resulting in sturdy construction that can retain its shape for many years. Due to its sleek design, beautiful versatility and quality construction, the “Admin” bag will be your top pick for all occasions. 

8. E-MOI Fanity Shoulder Tote Bag

Just recently arrived in store are what we think is the piece de la resistance in sustainable bags. The Pop Tab Range by E-Moi is handcrafted from soda pop can tab pulls in Vietnam. Each bag has a sense of Parisian design style about it, as Vietnamese Merer Nguyen moved to Paris for a career change a few years ago. Since then she has returned frequently to work with artisan co-operatives in South East Asia.

Fall in love with the E-Moirange. You'll never believe what they're made from when you see them. 

E-moi Fanity bag

More and more companies are jumping on the sustainability training, offering Fair Trade, eco-friendly, reusable tote bags that are designed with sophisticated fashion and your everyday needs in mind. So, what will be your weapon of choice in the war on plastic? Here at Temples & Markets, we are extremely excited about the potential impact that these sustainable tote bags can have for you and for the earth.  If you want to check out our unique collection of handcrafted tote bags, click  here! Let’s make a huge difference by shopping sustainably as much as we can. 


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