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Ecoist.com sells handbags and accessories made from repurposed candy wrappers, food labels, movie posters, billboards, and other materials that would otherwise have ended up in landfills.  Their collections are designed by artists from around the world, and are manufactured in non-sweatshop, free trade environments.

We believe that style comes first.  However, by promoting our brand, we hope to enhance the planet, elevate consumer consciousness, and transmit our values, not just our sense of style.

Ecoist.com

Ecoist’s bags are pretty pricey at $25 – $150 for any bags approximating a practical size, though they do carry other items and have periodic sales.  You can do what I do and window-shop by signing up for their email newsletter.  You’ll be entered in a monthly drawing for a free handbag; besides, the newsletter is just fun to look at for the adorable and innovative designs they carry:

Coasters, Subway collection, $18

Coasters, Subway collection, $18

Coin purse, Sprinkles collection, $22

Coin purse, Sprinkles collection, $22

Baguette, Coca-Cola collection, $48

Baguette, Coca-Cola collection, $48

Small Tote (made from a movie billboard), One-of-a-kind collection, $48

Small Tote (made from a movie billboard), One-of-a-kind collection, $48

The LBD, Confetti collection, $60

The LBD, Confetti collection, $60

Francisca, one-of-a-kind collection, $84

Francisca (made from soda can tabs), one-of-a-kind collection, $84

The Daily, One-of-a-kind collection, $158

The Daily, One-of-a-kind collection, $158

Ecoist’s website also has a photo gallery that offers a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at all of the work that goes into making one handbag:

Coca-Cola bottlers provide off-spec labels that could have otherwise end up in landfills.

Coca-Cola bottlers provide off-spec labels that could have otherwise end up in landfills.

The labels are cut according to design specifications.

The labels are cut according to design specifications.

Each piece is folded individually to create a module; modules are interlaced to create braids which are then sewn to make bags.

Each piece is folded individually to create a module; modules are interlaced to create braids which are then sewn to make bags.

The zipper is placed and the bag is complete.

The zipper is placed and the bag is complete.

Look to Ecoist’s website to learn more about their business model and philosophy, the variety of media coverage they’ve gotten, and of course, all the collections and products I didn’t have space to cover.

I’m in a club on campus called Students for Responsible Business, which is hosting a labor relations panel on campus on Wednesday.  The panel will include a mini case competition and speakers from the Haas School of Business and HP.  The speakers will be discussing the challenges of maintaining a balance between lowering operational costs by hiring workers overseas, and being sure to pay those workers fair wages.

I’m not always a rabid fan of the events we hold, but I think this one is going to be pretty interesting.

My marketing committee has been hard at work to promote the event through different mediums on campus.  Here are the flyers that Anna-Claire and I created to post on campus.  We tried to make them visually arresting and representative of major issues in labor relations today:

SRB’s main focus is Corporate Social Responsibility, a new trend in the business world to describe the belief that corporations have a responsibility not only to their shareholders and the financial bottom line, but also to the myriad of parties they impact, such as the environment, their workers, and the communities in which they are based.  I personally believe that it is possible to be socially responsible without sacrificing profits.  Consumers are more and more conscious of how their dollar votes, and find it increasingly important to patronize businesses with socially responsible practices.

Last spring, one of our professional events was a screening of The Corporation, a 2003 documentary that explored CSR.  Here’s a clip from that documentary describing the gaping disparity between how much companies charge for garments and how much they pay their workers:

If you go to Cal or if you’ll be in the Berkeley area on Wednesday evening, I highly recommend attending our “Don’t Sweat It” labor relations panel.  It’s on Wednesday, 9/24/08, 7-9 pm, in 219 Dwinelle.

What’s your take on labor relations?  Who’s responsible: The government?  The consumer?  The corporation?