Cuyana Zero Waste Shopping Bag

overall rating:



Jian Hong Shi
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The Zero Waste Shopping Bag is simplistic and stylish, offering two ways of tying the straps together whether in a simple knot or a bow. The price tag comes out to $65, a reasonable price tag for the size of the bag, but perhaps raises a few brows of those who feel it should be cheaper because it is recycled material after all. Cuyana’s motto is “Fewer, Better” and I’d say I agree with that statement after reviewing this product and looking through their site. The design of their pieces are classic and made out of fine materials that ensure longevity both in terms of fashion and practicality. I would’ve liked to see more transparency for the specific material for this bag on their site. I also wanted to know more about the transportation process because they do have eight factories situated across the world. Flying or sailing those products to warehouses or stores most likely emit a lot of greenhouse gases and are probably over routes of very long distances. Overall, I’d say they’re on the right track by showing a decent amount of materials and factory information, but showing everything would boost their rating in my book. 

What it's made of:


The Zero Waste Shopping Bag is made of overstock Italian cotton twill from Cuyana’s Spring 2020 collection. The cotton was originally sourced for a pant and skirt, and they used the leftover to create this bag. They have two types of cotton–Pima and poplin–on their materials page, but don’t have their Italian cotton twill listed. This leads me to believe it’s not organic or sustainably sourced. It’s conspicuous because they have some materials but not others, which leads consumers to conclude that the materials omitted must not be very environmentally friendly. Since the Italian cotton twill is not listed, their various certifications like meeting the global organic textile standard for their Pima cotton aren’t applicable to this product. 

How it's made:


The only information on how the Zero Waste Shopping Bag is made is the factory location is in Portugal. More broadly, Cuyana states that 100% of their suppliers are committed to a high degree of ethical conduct and environmental responsibility. They define that commitment as being independently audited for social compliance or agreeing to the Cuyana vendor terms that include compliance with local labor laws. I’m disappointed there isn’t more information on each factory because there are eight in total spanning four continents. They spotlight two factories, one in Peru that highlights alpaca wool products, and one in Italy that highlights leather good production. Those two factories are shown quite artfully and thoroughly, so I wish they did that for all of their factories to be more transparent about production.

Who makes it:


Cuyana is founded by two women of color who set out on the path of creating quality pieces that are sustainably made to stand the test of time. In 2020, they made a pledge to make all of their products sustainably by 2022; in 2021, they are at 96%. As for what they define as sustainable, Cuyana lays it out as producing responsibly, maximizing the wear of the product, and extending its lifetime. They back this up through their partnership with thredUP, a consignment company. Cuyana provides a complimentary shipping label for every domestic online order to send to thredUP. This gives the customer the option to extend the life of a product and earn money as opposed to just discarding it. Cuyana is mindful of the demand for their products and sells 90% of their products in comparison to the industry average of 60-70%. Cuyana also offers light in-store repairs for their leather products, a 2-year warranty for their products, and the option for domestic customers to ship their products to a care center for free repairs. The factories are scattered across the world with one in the midwest, three in South America, three in Southern Europe, and one in China. They’re not transparent about all of the specific working conditions of each factory though they state they’re all committed to ethical conduct and environmental responsibility. That doesn’t quite cut it, I want them to put everything out there.