How the Oil Spill Inspired Tchoup Industries

Today is Earth Day, 2015, and monday marked 5 years since the Deep Horizon Oil Spill (though its repercussions prove to be endless). This disaster was a major inspiration behind the founding of Tchoup Industries, and so this week- more than ever- we reflect on the importance of being an actively “green” business in Southern Louisiana.

A message from Tchoup Industries’ Founder & Designer, Patti Dunn:

“The Deep Horizon Oil Spill was a devastating set back to the health of our Gulf. It was depressing to hear news accounts of the damage caused by the rig explosion, and frustrating to witness the execution of the clean up process. This disaster motivated me as an environmentalist and designer to question my current lifestyle and explore new solutions.

There was a local push for building hair booms, which would naturally contain and absorb the oil that was sitting on the surface of the Gulf waters. I volunteered to help assemble the hair booms, unpacking huge boxes and trash bags of donated hair (from hair and pet salons across the country – even an alpaca farm) and stuffing them into panty hose to create the booms. I hosted a dog shaving event at my house in Bywater and invited neighbors and friends to help collect more hair for these efforts.


I also personally wanted to reduce my dependency on oil, thinking this would be the best way for me to make a positive impact on this local disaster and our national addiction. Of course there are the obvious ways to reduce oil consumption – less trips to the gas pump being a big one – but as a backpack and luggage designer I realized that most products I designed claimed 80-100% synthetic -AKA oil-based- content. Plastic hardware, synthetic webbing straps, nylon fabrics, and even the fabric coatings all originate from crude oil. On top of that, the products I designed were being built overseas and requiring huge amounts of gas, oil and energy to arrive in the hands of consumers here in the US.

I wondered – what if we had more product choices that were made locally and used only natural or recycled materials? Once I got started down this path I realized how easy it would be for a small company to tap into local resources and utilize materials that weren’t spawns of the oil industry. That was the beginning inspiration for the Tchoup Industries bag collection.”


Two years later, Patti and her Tchoup team are proud to have created a line of “green” handmade bags that are comprised of locally-sourced, natural materials (as opposed to oil-based materials), and upcycled materials (that would otherwise end up occupying a landfill).

Tchoup’s natural materials include: waxed cotton canvas, nutria fur, alligator leather, stainless steel hardware, cotton binding trim, cowhide leather, and woven cotton panels.

Tchoup’s upcycled materials include: repurposed Nylon webbing, recycled wool curtains, recycled rice bags, and recycled sail cloths.

Shop our bags online at Email if you have any questions for her!


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