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This is Greenwatch, a weekly insight into eco-friendly watch brands creating a space for a more sustainable future in watchmaking. 

How green are wristwatches? While it’s true that given the often hefty price tag, a watch harnessing a long lifespan, often becoming an heirloom, it’s eco-conscious capabilities don’t just stop there. While watch brands today are targeting the vital need to acknowledge their ecological footprint, this is often sought out through charitable allegiances and partnered campaigns for specific causes. 

The consumer demand for sustainability has forced brands to embrace, and with some haste, alternative approaches to lesser conscious history, which meant finally turning to watch materials. The advent of this came through watch straps and the soaring demand for plant-based methods that cause less harm and use less resources in the environment than leather straps. But what comes next?

Courtesy of Votch

A study conducted by Oxford University in 2018 found that going vegan is one of the best ways to minimize one’s carbon footprint – reducing it by up to 73%. But, of course, it’s easier said than done. A vegan diet is not accessible or appetizing for everyone, but thankfully vegan solutions are not constrained to what goes on our plates. 

Votch is a cruelty-free and female-owned watch company based in the United Kingdom, founded by Laura Way in 2016 as a “kinder alternative” to the traditional watch market. The idea was developed following Ways’ battle with Topical Steroid Withdrawal – a condition in which skin goes through a painful shedding process. During her recovery period, Ways spent many hours researching the leather industry and ultimately decided to commit to a vegan lifestyle. Ways explains that “seeing the suffering that animals endured simply for fashion, and having felt the pain of losing my own skin, I vowed never to wear the skin of another being again.” Thus, Votch was born.

Courtesy of Votch

Modern problems require modern solutions, so Votch sits at the forefront of innovation, trialing the latest leather alternatives. Their Piñatex watch collection features straps crafted from Piñatex,  a material that appears and feels like traditional leather but is made from fibers extracted from pineapple leaves. Because it is a by-product of the pineapple harvest, no extra land, pesticides, or fertilizers are necessary, yet it provides an additional income for the farmers. 

Venturing into other fruit leathers, recently, Votch released a selection of traditional and Apple compatible watches that employ Appleskin for the strap. AppleSkin is a bio-based material produced by using residual fibers from the apple juice industry in Northern Italy. In addition to being durable, Votch’s vegan watch straps are Peta-approved, PVC-free and phthalate-free.

Votch’s commitment to sustainability goes beyond their designs and is at the core of everything they do, including their recycling scheme. You can send broken or unwanted watches to Votch for them to be recycled and repurposed and also earn yourself a generous discount code. 

A sustainable lifestyle is not built in a day but through small changes that amount to significant results. So if you’re like me and not quite ready to give up cheese, perhaps opting for a watch strap made from pineapple residue is an easier place to start. 

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Scarlett is a writer, editor, and creative consultant specializing in art, fashion, culture and digital strategy. Drawing on her work from previous titles including Dazed, LOVE Magazine, The Perfect Magazine, AnOther and 1 Granary, as the Editor-in-Chief of The Next Hour, Scarlett is leading the editorial vision toward new territories providing an alternative lens of social commentary to recontextualize the world of watchmaking for the next generation.