As an ROTC member studying at Middlebury College in Vermont, Emily Nunez found it difficult to relate to her classmates her commitment to the military. In an effort to bridge the divide between service members and the public, the Nunezes founded Sword & Plough in 2012 after returning to Middlebury after attending the U.S. Army Airborne School.
Sword & Plough views its dedication to the environment as a mirror to their work with the military.
“…The lifecycle of our surplus material mimics the transition veterans make from the military to civilian environment. The surplus that was once used for defense purposes has been fashioned into civilian products. The many qualities of military materials, including durability and strength, have been preserved in our product and cause, which our supporters are proud to carry. Our decision to manufacture in the US was never a question – the environmental and social benefits are too obvious. And with a mission so intrinsically American, it makes perfect sense that we support the US economy through our efforts by creating jobs, and as much as possible, jobs for veterans. Manufacturing in the US also supports our environmental mission by reducing the carbon emissions that would have occurred had we chosen to manufacture abroad.”
Fabrication, as well as all of the materials, are sourced within the country, with 85 percent of each bag crafted from military surplus material. The company donates 10 percent of it revenue to veteran nonprofits, and its packaging is made from 100 percent recycled paper. Sword & Plough also plans to incorporate vegan leather into future designs, and is proud to save thousands of pounds of textiles from entering landfills each year.
As tough as the men and women who serve in the armed forces, the bags reflect the utilitarian function of military bags while also appearing contemporary and rugged. The messenger bags, totes, and rucksacks sewn by veterans help provide work for retired soldiers, further the movement towards sustainable fashion, and promotes understanding between members of a community.