“Sustainable living means prioritizing the use of natural and renewable resources instead of creating excess waste and depleting resources for future generations.” -The Good Trade
We have been inspired by the textile world’s ability to connect values, hoping our inspiration stimulates buyers and consumers to live, create and shop purposefully. Our sustainability model includes but is not limited to:
- Sustaining Artisans with livable wages to provide for their families.
- Creating sustainable fashion products through ethical practices and natural resources (more humans, less machines).
- Sustaining the dying art of weaving in different countries to create beautiful textiles.
We have been inspired by the textile world’s ability to connect values, hoping our inspiration stimulates buyers and consumers to live, create and shop purposefully. We invite everyone to help us promote conscious consumption and to invest in sustainable materials and products; we must remember that what we do to the environment, ultimately we do to ourselves.
As we strive to provide sustainable products, we invite everyone to help us promote conscious consumptions, invest in sustainable materials and products, and learn to take care of their belongings so that they last; we must remember that what we do to the environment, ultimately we do to ourselves. Keep reading for seven easy sustainable living tips for you and your Nena items.
1. Care For Your Bag(s) Regularly
A great and simple start to living sustainably with Nena & Co. is by taking care of your bags regularly. While each product is beautifully handcrafted and of high quality, they still need your tender love and care to continue looking beautiful. The textile and leather components of your bag both need attention in their own unique ways!
Caring for the Fabric on Your Bag
The vintage huipiles upcycled to create the panels on our One of a Kind bags can be worn for up to ten years before we get our hands on them! Because they’ve been around for many years, it’s normal to find loose threads. If you do find any, please don’t pull them as this can cause damage to your item. Instead, grab some scissors and snip the loose thread.
For additional help on proper care steps for OOAK textiles, read our blog on How To Care For Your Nena Product.
Caring for the Leather on Your BagAll leather that we use at Nena & Co. goes through a lengthy process of traditional dyeing and tanning. As time goes on, the leather will need some additional care to continue looking and feeling its best. We love this high quality leather because it will get softer and more beautiful over time, with proper care! To clean, we recommend using the following three step process:
- Clean Your Hide - This should be done whenever you feel the need to. A few common reasons could be to remove stains, odor, or dirt.
- Condition Your Hide - It’s best to condition your leather 2-4 times a year. However, if it starts feeling a little dry or you notice scratches, it may be time to condition and rejuvenate.
- Protect Your Hide - Protectant can be applied to your bag whenever you feel it’s necessary and can depend on the amount you use your bag and the climate you’re in.
For more in-depth instructions on how to care for the leather on your bag and accessories, check out our other blog post, How To Clean, Condition, and Protect Your Hide. Here you'll also find step by step directions for how use the Nena & Co. Leather Care Set to help keep your leather lasting longer and looking beautiful.
2. Store Responsibly
Did you know that when you store and organize your bags you’re actually following sustainability practices? By storing your bags you aid in preserving each bag’s life span, which means they can continue to look beautiful and you can enjoy them longer!
When not in use, we suggest placing your bag in the Nena & Co. dust bag included in your package. Simply place your bag inside and tighten the dust bag closed so you can shield your bag from sticking to surfaces, collecting dust, and being subject to other damaging factors.
Another aspect of storing your bags responsibly is keeping them organized. By organizing your bags, you can better see what’s in your closet, use what you have, and plan for what you might need to purchase or give away. Ali Hynek, Founder and CEO of Nena & Co., likes to say that the huipiles are works of art that she chooses to frame within a leather bag rather than hung on a wall. Displaying some of your favorite Nena items can be a great way to admire them even when not in use!
To help give you some ideas for how you can store your bags, here are some of our favorite methods we’ve seen the Nena Society use to organize their bags:
- Shelves or cubbies in the closet.
- Storage hooks on a wall or the back of the door.
- Storage dividers on your shelves.
- A bookcase display shelf in your room.
- Magazine holders for your clutches.
Everyone organizes things differently, so choose the method that works best for you!
3. Grocery Shop With Nena & Co.
Another easy way you can contribute to living sustainably is by grocery shopping with Nena & Co. Around 300 million tons of plastic are produced each year. One of the most common single-use plastics is the grocery bag. On average, an American family takes home almost 1,500 plastic shopping bags a year and only 1% of plastic bags are returned for recycling. That’s a lot of plastic that’s being put into our Earth’s ecosystem with nowhere to go but cause harm!
One small way we can do our part to reduce and hopefully eliminate our own use of grocery bags is by choosing a sustainable and reusable alternative. Because sustainability is a huge part of our mission at Nena & Co., we wanted to create a product that helps you incorporate sustainable living into your own life. What better way than give you The Farmer’s Market Tote.
This beautiful tote is made with full-grain leather straps and comes in multiple beautiful fabrics woven by Artisans in Guatemala. Whether it’s a quick trip to the grocery store or a planned visit to the farmer’s market every Saturday in the summer, you can live a little more sustainable and in style with your Nena & Co. Farmer’s Market Tote!
Members of the Nena Society also love to grocery shop with some of our other totes, such as the Your Everything Tote. Another great option is a Voyager bag – large, lightweight, and includes a zipper closure. This bag is perfect everywhere from the beach to the store!
When not in use, we recommend storing your totes in the car. This way you’ll always have them ready to use especially for those impromptu grocery store visits.
4. Pass Nena & Co. Down for Generations
Vintage is a precious concept especially when it’s in the family. We cherish the heirloom pieces of those who came before us as a way to feel a stronger connection to those we’ve lost. Little do most people know that this is actually a sustainable living practice!
It takes multiple days for our Artisan women to weave each huipil and they do so with the utmost care. Our One Of A Kind collection uses gently worn vintage huipiles that Maya women made for themselves, and our Heritage & Society collection features newly woven huipiles just for you and your bag. Because of the quality of the materials and conscientiousness during the process, these textiles and leather were handcrafted to last for generations with proper care.
As you take care of and organize your bag or bag collection, you can pass them down how you see fit. We encourage you to share where the items were made, who made them, and how these beautiful items came to be. Our wish is that the next generation who gets their hands on a Nena & Co. bag will be able to appreciate them, cherish them, and know their beautiful story.
5. Donate Unwanted Items
Sometimes it’s good to declutter and get rid of the items we don’t use but take up space in our closets. When it comes to sustainability practices, it’s good to gift any unwanted items to someone who would appreciate their meaning and take care of them. When we donate to random stores or donation centers, we unintentionally place the burden on the store to sell, give them away, or dispose of them.
According to Good On You, a platform that advocates for slow fashion, charities spend money on sorting and disposing of donated items with an estimated 25% of textiles going directly to landfills. While items sold or donated to a thrift store may find a new home, the odds of this are a lot less likely than if you place the item in a new home yourself. When we give our items to those that appreciate them, we can see the direct effect each donation has to bless the lives of someone else!
6. Create Different Looks with the Nena & Co. Add-On System
We get it! Sometimes wanting more can limit us to see the beauty in what we already have. When it comes to living sustainably, it’s great to renew our love for the items we already have! One way Nena & Co. helps renew the love of any bag is with our add-on collection.
Pair your bag with a new strap, pom, or accessory to create a whole new look and rediscover the connection you have with your bags and items! Creating different looks to match with different outfits can be exactly what you need to renew your love for your Nena & Co. bag and live a little more sustainably.
7. Research Who You Buy From
Our ultimate mission at Nena & Co. is to create more sustainable bags and items, lower our carbon footprint, and stay away from fast fashion. We do this through our own research, product design, and production models. No matter what is most important to you — whether it’s conscious living, giving back, etc. — research and learn about a brand before you buy. That way, you can understand their mission and goals and decide whether or not to support them with your purchases.
If sustainability is an important practice to you or something you might be interested in, strive to research and buy from brands that have the same mission as you. As you do, you’ll find how beautiful it is to support businesses that align with your lifestyle and beliefs.
Shop Ethically and Sustainably with Nena & Co.
We could not be more grateful for each and every one of you who appreciates and supports our small business and its mission! We hope that these seven tips can encourage you to cherish your bags even more while also giving back to Mother Earth.
If you’re new to Nena & Co., we invite you to learn more about our process in preserving the art of different cultures and producing sustainably! By doing so, we hope you’ll understand a little more about how important ethical and sustainable business practices are to us as well as find your own love for our bags and accessories.
For reference, download this infographic as a reminder to live a little more sustainably with Nena & Co.: