The world’s landfills are piling up. While we hear a lot about how the fashion industry contributes to this problem, the topic is less focused on accessories. Yet purses, bags and backpacks also contribute to the fast fashion environment with quickly fading styles and manufacturing pollution. One company is bucking this trend with a backpack made from naturally sustainable cork and recycled materials.

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On the left, woman holding up a cork backpack. On the right, close-up of a cork backpack.

The Jajamän cork backpack is a completely vegan option for conscientious consumers looking for an alternative to cotton-based fabrics and leather. With a striking cork exterior and recycled post-consumer polyester interior, the backpack was made with the environment in mind throughout the design process. It even uses recycled metal for the buckles. In fact, every component of this backpack is either natural cork or recycled material, including the zippers made from post-consumer plastic. Tags and trims are made from recycled paper, too.

Related: Pauline van Dongen unveils backpack made with ‘energy harvesting textile’

men wearing cork backpacks

Cork is the ultimate choice as a sustainable product for a variety of reasons. Because it is actually bark, harvesting cork doesn’t require cutting down or damaging trees. Plus, it is lightweight yet durable. Cork is also innately waterproof, fire-resistant, dirt repellent, anti-fungal and stain resistant, all of which make it a good choice for bags, shoes, purses and more. Cork requires no harsh chemicals like those produced from leather manufacturing and is biodegradable at the end of its lifecycle.

In addition to careful material selection, the company has focused on making sure each step in the process is both earth and human friendly. To achieve this goal, it uses cork from Portugal and manufactures the bags close to that source. Jajamän practices safe working conditions and fair wages in its factory, a standard in Portugal.

On the left, woman resting head on cork backpack. On the right, woman wearing cork backpack.

With longevity in mind, the design is practical, universal for any gender and durable. While this means each bag can last years, it doesn’t sacrifice appeal. Because cork has a natural design, much like cut wood, each backpack has a unique pattern not exactly duplicated in any other bag.

“We’re going back to a more sustainable way of consuming and producing,” the company said. “Sustainability is our business, and thanks to your pledges, we will be able to begin producing our planet-friendly cork backpacks. We’ll be able to fund our team to continue to challenge the status quo of fast fashion by creating truly sustainable alternatives.”

After being fully funded, the Jajamän cork backpack is now available for purchase through Indiegogo.

+ Jajamän

Images via Jajamän