Buckle Up For Sustainability: The Story of Biji Biji’s Seat Belt Bags
By: Supriya Sivabalan
When you think of the safety features of a car - the first thing you think of is none other than the ever-famous seat belt (among the many other features there are). Ever wondered the lack of attention you (or anyone normal, really) pays to these perfectly-crafted black seat belts in every car? No one ever goes up to a car they plan to buy and says “OK, I need to inspect the seat belts in this car to make sure they’re perfect.” That’s because these heavy production vehicles go through strict quality-control to retain well, quality. So, (typically) each and every component of the car including the seat belts go through a series of tests to ensure it’s durability, functionality and safety.
 
Close up to gorgeous seat belt webbing 

What happens to seat belts that fail quality control?

You might be wondering - how can seat belts fail quality control? It just doesn’t seem plausible. Well, there’s a couple of things to be considered. Most of the time seat belts are rejected due to colour defects, manufacturing offcuts,  broken colour pattern, dye streaks and drop stitching, thus making them unsellable to the car manufacturing industry. Did you know that based on these very strict (and necessary) standards that seat belts are required to meet - millions of yards of seat belt webbing are rejected by auto-makers every year! 

Imagine a huge pile of these good, sturdy materials not being put to good use
Understanding this problem, Biji Biji took this challenge as a fresh canvas of opportunities. With so much discarded material, there must surely be some use for it. As the old saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Thus, back in 2013 under the Genovasi Project, Biji Biji built it’s first seat belt bag prototype simply by hot glueing pieces of material together. It turned out…interesting, to say the least. However, the potential for a gorgeous piece was certainly more and more prominent through lots of trial and error - as Biji Biji went through prototype after prototype. Alas! We eventually came up with a seat belt collection after tons of experimenting and innovation - the line of products we currently have reflect all the effort and genuine care we put in handling each design. 

From Seat Belts to Functional Products 

Our gorgeous Peony Tote Bag in Sand!
Biji Biji locally procures the seat belts from seat belt manufacturing companies. These materials are not donated but purchased. They are completely new and unused, only rejected due to lack of consistency with standards of car manufacturers. The seat belts come in random as unrolled bundles in large bags (we are not able to choose the seat belts). Usually, the bag is filled with a mixture of colours. Upon receiving the material, our production line handrolls them and segregates the seat belts by colour tones. 

Seat belt rolls!
The Mawar Handbag - sleek and oh, so unique!
Did you know that the original colour of seat belts are white before they undergo dyeing in the factory? Biji Biji uses the seat belts we procure in their natural form received. Thus, we have a variety of tones to play around with. These materials are then filtered through once more to determine which are usable for production. For the seat belts that end up in our “unusable” pile, we still put them to good use as they’re set aside for future projects and training. 

Training to sew seat belt material using an industrialized sewing machine
Given the hardy nature of the seat belt material, only industrial sewing machines allow us to work with the fabric. Using a seamless sewing technique, Biji Biji has mastered the creation of seat belt products. 

Advantages of Seat Belt Material 

The stunning Penyau Bowler Bag!
Durable
The durability that comes along with the seat belt material is unquestionable as we have numerous testimonials of our seat belt product users commending the Biji Biji seat belt collection regarding the lack of wear and tear that occurs on their bags. We have Biji Biji seat belt bag owners who have been using their bag every day for the past 6-7 years and it is honestly comparable to the new bags fresh off the production line. Sometimes you can’t even tell the difference. 
The durability of the material makes it a great alternative to leather products - maybe even better, given the upcycling aspect of them! Leather goods are typically favoured due to the long-lasting feature of the material, and we can assure you that the seat belt bags put up an equal fight to leather products. Plus, Biji Biji offers a 1-year warranty for all our seat belt bags!
Low Maintenance
The seat belt material requires little to no care in terms of keeping it clean. In the event where your bag does get a little dirty or gathers dust, it can easily be cleaned. Gently brush the surface of your bag with a toothbrush and warm soapy water. For stubborn stains, we recommend using uncoloured multi-purpose surface cleaner creams.
Water and Flame Resistant
The seat belt material is designed to resist environmental strain and adapt to the field of high-temperature conditions. It can also withstand water to a certain degree, thus protecting your belongings from an accidental coffee or tea spill. 
Currently, Biji Biji has a large number of products ranging from tote bags to pouch bags made out of these rejected seat belts. They come in a universally minimalistic design that caters to all.

Interested to browse through our various products? Check out the seat belt collection on Biji Biji!

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