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BEEN LONDON:
FROM DISCARDED WASTE TO PREMIUM LEATHER BAGS

BEEN London Ridley Bags

“Waste is only waste if no one uses it and through imagination and innovation, BEEN London gives used materials a second life.”

Words By Sohila Ahmed

11/05/2021

The recycling industry does not recycle what it cannot sell, a horrific realisation that urged Genia Mineeva to seek a solution to reduce the amount of one-time use materials that are dumped into landfills everyday. Genia was enjoying life as a BBC journalist until she stumbled upon a documentary that unveiled the truth about the amount of materials we carelessly dispose of around the world. She realised there are so many recycling opportunities for “waste” that are not being realised simply because people keep on using new materials instead of giving the current ones a second life.

Determined to
make a change

 Genia decided to use her skills as a journalist by contacting manufacturers, craftspeople, recycling plants and sustainability experts. Intrigued by the yet to be discovered recycling potential, she started digging deeper by taking courses on subjects far from her own expertise, such as sustainable value chain and bag design. Consequently and after long nights of studying and research, the brand BEEN London was found in 2018.

Why BEEN?

 The idea behind the name BEEN London comes from the brand’s choice of materials that have already Been used. Producing handcrafted vegan leather bags and collaborating with one of the last bag makers in East London, BEEN London aspires to solve environmental issues by showing the true value of what others might readily throw away. In fact, BEEN London’s bags have a carbon footprint 10 times smaller than an equivalent made on the high street. 

To minimize the carbon footprint and ensure every individual involved is getting paid fairly and treated well, the brand avoids production in other countries where unethical labor practices are widespread. Every piece is produced locally and with the help of Londoners with learning difficulties.

BEEN London

BEEN London

 Leather, Sustainable and Vegan

BEEN London ensures zero waste in design-making by creating all pieces from square or rectangular panels. It only focuses on a practical and timeless look, as its creations include lots of pockets and work with all seasons. The brand’s minimalistic and cruelty-free bags are made from materials that include Recycled Leather re-formed using high pressure water jets, Regenerated Nylon (mainly from fishing nets), Recycled Polyester from single use plastic to create zips, Recycled Felt, PIÑATEX (fiber created from pineapple leaves), Recycled Cotton and even Apple Leather (made from apple skin).

100% Recyclable

 Genia takes recyclability very seriously and is particularly concerned about where products go when they are thrown “away”. She incorporated her values into BEEN London by offering repair services and guaranteeing that products are still recyclable even when they are no longer repairable. Unsurprisingly, BEEN London’s success is the result of continuously looking for industry-shifting innovations from around the world. It believes there is always a better way to alter what was once considered waste to be a sustainable, and even premium, material. In addition, the brand partnered with Terra Neutra to constantly find better ways to improve and measure its carbon footprint.

Never Stop Learning

Genia’s advice to others who would like to follow the same path and create their own sustainable brand is to not be afraid to ask. Reach out to your community and ask for feedback or support and you will be surprised by the results. On a final note, and as a general mindset, she reminds us to never stop learning.

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