Vera Bradley Mini Sling Backpack

overall rating:



Aakanksha Jain
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The mini sling backpack is one of the products of Vera Bradley's ReActive collection, which was launched in January 2020. The other products in the collection include Gym Bag, Travel Duffel, Tote, Grand Backpack. Vera Bradley's ReActive collection is a good effort in reducing and recycling the ocean plastic waste as according to the ocean cleanup project, there are currently 5 trillion ocean plastic wastes in the world's oceans and in 2016, a study done by World Economic Forum, it was mentioned that every year 8 million metric ton of plastic enters the ocean. Hence, I liked their efforts to make products using recycled plastic bottles from the ocean and landfill. But, I would be interested in knowing what made them take this much time to think about sustainability because Vera Bradley is a brand that was established in the 80s. Was it because of their recent losses in 2015 or are they really concerned. Besides, I liked their responsible sourcing as they have mentioned in their 2020 Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability report that they will not knowingly source Uzbek or Turkmen cotton for the manufacturing of any of our products because of the systemic use of forced child and adult labor in the harvest of cotton in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. But I would like to know their take on the child labour issues and rag picking practices by kids in the Asian countries where they have their plants. Talking about their product price, I found the bags pretty affordable, but the majority of their ReActive collection is in floral prints, therefore as a customer, it will not give me much of a choice while choosing the product. Along with this, I would also like to know if they have any plans or programs for recycling their ReActive collection products, once they can no longer be used. Overall, I expect more transparency from Vera Bradley as their Corporate Social Responsibility Rating is 54, and Transparency and Reporting rating is 51 on a scale of 100.

What it's made of:


The Mini sling backpacks are made from recycled plastic bottles collected from oceans and landfills. They have mentioned that 16 recycled plastic bottles are used to make 1 yard of fabric, and for this particular bag, 10 bottles were used. I liked their initiative of using ocean plastics as mentioned on their website; every minute, over 1 Million plastic bottles are sold worldwide, out of which 91% of the plastic can never be recycled. But, apart from recycled plastic bottles, I would like to see which dye they are using for their bags, which is not mentioned by them. Along with this, I would also like to know what components the bag zips are made of? Are they metal components or plastic and if so, are they recyclable?

How it's made:


The processing information is limited for Vera Bradley's mini sling backpack. However, the typical process of making bags from recycled plastic includes collecting up plastic bottles from the ocean, separate them based on different types, shred the selected bottles into flakes, melt the shreds into pallets, and finally stretch them into yarn. The yarn is then turned into thread, and the thread is woven into the fabric. The process looks pretty simple, but as per the reports from 2015, Vera Bradley had closed its plants in the USA due to losses and moved its plants to Asia, particularly in Vietnam, China and the Philippines. If that is so, then rag picking by kids is an issue in many Asian counties, including Vietnam and the Philippines. Hence, I would really like to know, how Vera Bradley is collecting recycled bottles because if they have plants in Asia, then the recycled bottles must be picked from there. Also, if they are sorting the plastic bottles, I would like to know what happens to the bottles which are not suitable for manufacturing purposes. Are they sending them for recycling? In addition to this, I would also like to know their plant employees' working conditions, minimum wages, and hours of work. Apart from that, I would really be interested in knowing if their sustainability move was made due to their losses or are they really concerned about the issue.

Who makes it:


Vera Bradley is American luggage, handbags, travel items, home accessories, and unique gifts design company, founded by Barbara Bradley Baekgaard and Patricia R. Miller in 1982. Vera Bradley is a brand by women for women. Hence, we can see their two major initiatives, one is their Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer, where they have raised more than $ 34.6 million to support research for breast cancer, and another one is their partnership with New Hope Girls charity to help girls and women arising from their darkest times. In 2019, Vera Bradley had donated 50,000 brand-new backpacks to schools and children in need. In 2020 Women on Boards, a nonprofit education and advocacy campaign committed to raising awareness about the value of gender-diverse boards with at least 20% female directors, named Vera Bradley a "Winning Company" for their commitment to board diversity. They have recently started their sustainability collection so we cannot see much of their work in sustainability in the past. Also, as it mainly a handbag and luggage bag company, they use leathers for their other products, so if a consumer is inclined towards animal welfare, they would probably be hesitant in using this brand.