Fierce Hazel, a company so deeply concerned about sustainability that it uses fabric remnants rather than ordering new material, makes its Urban Explorer Bag with a synthetic fabric called Olefin. That seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it?
And yet, Olefin is an environmentally friendly textile made entirely from a by-product of petroleum refining that used to be burned or dumped.
An Italian chemical engineer named Giulio Natta developed a method for transforming propylene into polyolefin fibers in the 1950s. As a result of his work, this one-time waste product is now upcycled into a tough, water-resistant, stain-resistant, lightweight material generally used for outdoor applications such as indoor-outdoor rugs or upholstery.
The fibers are solution-dyed during manufacture, so dyeing it requires no water. It’s not grown, so it requires no land or fertilizer (unlike cotton or linen). It has the smallest carbon footprint of any upholstery fabric. And it is ideal for our purposes: it wicks up moisture, it dries very quickly, and it cleans easily.* And it is 100 percent recyclable. I doubt there is another bag anywhere made from this material.
*Most stains can be easily removed by rubbing with lukewarm water and a mild detergent. Oil-based stains may be difficult to remove, however, and it should never be subjected to high heat (never iron or toss it in a dryer set too high).