Metamorphic Gear: Earth-Minded Upcycling

By Lisa Myers

Photos by Wild Human

Sustainable and upcycle are trendy marketing terms, but not many companies take those ideas as seriously as Seattle’s Metamorphic Gear.

Metamorphic Gear makes totes, purses, Dopp kits, a handful of accessories from reclaimed materials. Founder and owner, Lindsay Lawrence, found his design inspiration while working in Brazil with low-income kids and families.

“I saw a lot of these young people wearing backpacks that were made out of rice bags and large containers for beans. I was fascinated by the utility that people were able to create out of things that would have normally been thrown away in the U.S.”

- Lindsay Lawrence, founder, and owner of Metamorphic Gear

After returning to the States, Lindsay started working in the rowing industry and coaching Crew. Brazil sparked the inspiration for Metamorphic Gear, and his time on the water brought the utility and mechanism to create an elevated and upcycled product.

“I saw a lot of old sails being thrown out at the different marinas I was at. I started dumpster diving or I would see a boat owner throwing a sail away and I would ask them for it. And I had a friend at the same time who was in long-haul trucking. He gave me some old tarp that was off of his truck. I was also a mountaineer and a rock climber at that time. So that’s kind of what married these different products together.”

- Lindsay Lawrence, founder, and owner of Metamorphic Gear

Today, Metamorphic Gear’s materials are sourced from more boat sails, semi-truck tarpaulin, and lightly used climbing rope. I tested the Marble Deluxe Tote and the Slate Purse over the course of several weeks to see if these upcycled bags can keep up with family life and outdoor adventures.

Marble Deluxe Tote

The construction of the bag is solid, overall sturdy and I love the Camo exterior. The seams and stitching are tight with a zipper that doesn’t snag. A zipper across the large opening keeps the contents of the bag safe and dry – a necessary feature for an adventure in the Northwest. 

The straps are comfy and stay in place while taking short hikes to picnic spots. It has plenty of room for all of the essentials for a quick overnight.

After only a short time of use, the exterior ended up with some small cracks and scratches. I’m careful with my bags but the material seems to scratch easily, although the camo pattern does its job at camouflaging. These bags are from upcycled materials and some minor wear and tear didn’t surprise me. 

I would love to see some kind of a divider for the large interior and an outside pocket for small accessories. More organization is always helpful.

Made out of sturdy tarp and sailcloth, the bag does have a noise crunch factor when getting things in and out of it unlike counterparts made out of softer materials. 

The Slate Purse

The Slate Purse is a perfect companion to the Marble Deluxe. The purse fits nicely inside of the larger tote and is great for keeping smaller items separate and easily accessible.

I love using this bag as my day-to-day purse, although I prefer the visual appeal of the Marble Deluxe. At first glance, the Slate looks a bit like an insulated lunch bag (and thus not quite the fashion statement I want) but quickly redeems itself with function. 

The straps are comfy on the Slate, however, when reaching in to grab my phone or wallet, the straps slip, making the purse fall out of reach. The strap feature is intentional, so it can be worn cross-body, which is nifty, but not how I wear my everyday purse.

The perfect covid bags?

The Marble Deluxe Tote might actually be a perfect COVID bag. COVID has only created more wanderlust and this bag is roomy and great for all kinds of gear schlepping and adventuring. Beach days are a breeze, large enough for a throw, snacks, and lots of hydration.

On both bags, I particularly love that the interior zippers are two different colors. The colors make it easy to keep things organized and clear of cross-contamination.

The waterproof interior and exterior are forgiving for leaky Nalgenes and easy to wipe down with disinfectant.

The Bottom Line

As a social worker, environmentalist, and passionate Mama, the inspiration and production of Metamorphic Gear’s products surpass my social and environmental standards. 

The Marble Deluxe Tote has a large cavernous compartment that swallows up everything you need for a family outing, a trip to the gym, or a day at the beach. The Slate Purse is great for quick trips around town, or as a way to keep things organized when you have more to haul. 

Both bags are functional and durable. Just be prepared to tell admirers where you got them.

Why Wild Human Supports Metamorphic Gear

There are easier ways to make a tote, but owner Lindsay Lawrence has found a way to take a durable material that might otherwise be thrown out, and give it new life. 

Upcycling is great, but Metamorphic takes it to an aspirational level, and it shows in the quality of their products. First, the company sources materials from multiple waste streams. It’s not just boat sails; it’s truck tarps and climbing rope too. 

Second, their production footprint is limited to the materials they can source from those waste streams. Metamorphic Gear’s products are designed around the materials they can source. It’s all about working within that upcycle mind-set. 

Third, Lindsay wanted to create a company that is earth-minded. That mentality isn’t limited to the environment. In addition to Metamorphic’s ecological contributions, they’re also striving for social good by partnering with Seattle based Refugee Artisan Initiative; a non-profit that helps provide sewing and crafting work for immigrant and refugee women.

There are a lot of reasons to support Metamorphic Gear. They make a great product that you can use every day, and helping the environment and other humans is part of their business model. 

Last year, Metamorphic donated 1% of their profits to Puget Sound Keeper Alliance. Lindsay is now hiring refugee and immigrant women to make some Metamorphic Gear products. Their products are almost completely upcycled. That’s plenty to earn our support. We think Metamorphic Gear is an example of how business can be better.

Learn more about Metamorphic Gear

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