Fair Trade is a term you are beginning to see much more as the eco-friendly movement grows. Fair Trade Designs embodies this ideal with their great sustainable items, each with their own background story of the artisans who create them.
Vetiver Root Place Mats – Hand woven from cotton and vetiver root and tied together with vetiver tassels. Vetiver is a fragrant easily renewable and naturally aromatic root indigenous to India and Indonesia. The soothing, herbal scent covers kitchen smells and also makes great drawer liners. Because of its deep growing & tightly meshed root system, vetiver is also used by conservation and community development projects to stop erosion in deforested areas. The mats are hand made in a fair trade village cooperative in Java, Indonesia.
This product comes from Zen-Zen, a Fair Trade Federation member. That means everyone they employ, including their subcontractors, gets a fair living wage and has good working conditions › Continue reading
Society has seen a quick adoption of reusable grocery bags, especially with legislative measures in their favor in several cities/states/countries (like Washington DC and the Republic of Ireland). This progressive adoption is understandable on at least three counts outside of these two places as well. Firstly, as these bags are convenient for grocery stores, which in turn will save money on paper and plastic bags. Secondly, as they’re also convenient for shoppers who no longer have to hope the bag boy didn’t over-stuff the flimsy plastic/paper bags they would normally use. And finally, convenient for the environment as it results in less dependency on plastic bags which would to take millennia to biodegrade.
The quick spread of these bags comes at a cost though as the people adopting them aren’t properly informed as to the measures they’d need to take in order to safely use them. They’re bags, is there really anything non-intuitive about their use? It seems that there is. They’re meant to be washed on a regular basis, but the people who purchase them don’t seem to be aware of this fact by far as a recent study indicates that as much as 97% of randomly selected interviewees were completely unaware of this health precaution.
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We have profiled several companies making bags from recycled materials here. You have bags from recycled juice boxes, recycled firehoses, and recycled bags, but here is a new twist I didn’t see coming- bags made from recycled (or repurposed) airline seat covers.
Its crazy to think of all the things that eventually get thrown away, and believe me, airline seat covers were not on my radar. So far, Delta has donated 5,873 pounds of fabric from an estimated 20,000 aircraft seat covers to Tierra Ideas for their varied bag creations. Incorporating recycled bicycle and tractor innertubes and an auto seat belt as the shoulder strap, these bags are truly › Continue reading
Around the world, the concept of the reusable bag is catching on with gusto. The reasoning may differ from country to country, but the effects seem to be the same: less waste and more money towards environmental causes.
Many people claim that paper is more environmentally friendly than plastic, but the truth is far from that. Paper bags consume over 40% more energy to produce than plastic bags. Paper produces 50%-70% more pollutants than plastic bags in production. Paper bags also can only be recycled 5-7 times, and then the fibers are too short to stick together properly and still be useful. Unfortunately, plastic isn’t the answer. Although they use less energy to produce, they’re made of polyethylene, which is a man-made polymer that microorganisms don’t recognize as food. Essentially they will dissolve over hundreds of years through photoradiation, but that still means they just become tiny granules.
Ireland introduced a plastic bag tax, referred to as the “plastax” in 2002. The tax is now about 33 cents in USD. The money from this tax goes to the environment ministry and is used for enforcement and clean-up projects. The tax had the desired effect of cleaning up all the bags that littered the streets. Their use of plastic bags decreased by 90% or 277 million bags altogether in the first three months! Isn’t that amazing?
Australia followed suit and in 2009 the state of South Australia banned plastic bags as well. They estimated that 400 million bags would be “saved” in the first year. Studies were done previous to the ban that found that reusable bags used only 9% of the energy and 10% of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with plastic bag use.
I have always been intrigued by the many creative materials used for recycled content bags, especially things like juice boxes. I recently purchased a recycled fire hose bag which I have been delighted with, and I have several recycled cotton, plastic and vinyl bags for shopping and such, but UrthBags has taken the cake with their creative reuse and recycled materials.
With everything from bright and colorful recycled juice box clutches, to understated but exotic coconut & sea shell bags, UrthBags utilize just about anything that our society produces plenty of. Recycled Newspaper, Magazine, and Telephone Book Bags are formed into purses, messenger bags, tote bags, diaper bags and more.
They were kind enough to send me a juice box bag so I could get a closer look at the quality and composition of their products, and I must say it was impressive. They really take the reuse and recycling idea seriously as the bag was packaged and delivered in a re-used box (plus one for practicing what you preach!) The bag was woven together in a tight and sturdy pattern exploding with color. It had a feel similar to a vinyl or soft plastic, but did not appear ‘cheap’ or ‘flimsy’, rather the opposite- it was of exceptional quality. My girlfriend quickly snatched it from me to become her new traveling makeup bag.
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