When we go to the market, we always bring our totes and make sure that we don’t walk out with plastic bags which will end up in a landfill for the next thousand years or so. Since the late nineties we have been carrying our canvas and cotton totes around in the trunk or the stroller (since we now live in a city perfectly scaled for car-free living), so we are never without this sustainable lifestyle staple. But canvas and cotton are rather humdrum, and while they crumple up nicely into my primary out-and-about & work bag–alternatives are nice. Here are some notables in the sustainable lifestyle bag-world.
We have fallen in love with Freitag, for obvious reasons: each of their bags are cut from tarpaulin covers used on trucks zipping through Swiss cantons. But tipping the scale at around 100€ for a tote, these remain a little daunting. There is hope. Alchemy Goods, whose production is located in Seattle’s SoDo, has a fantastic line of sustainable, recycled-material bags and accessories. They have localized the Swiss company’s aesthetic by reusing cast-off materials from the area’s bicycle culture and advertising market. The "Ad Bag" recycles vinyl mesh material from banner advertising, seatbelt webbing, and inner tubes. Very hip. Their messenger and courier-style bags are made from inner tubes as well (is your diaper bag this cool?). This tote retails at around $35 USD; the messenger bag (pictured below), $168.
“Ad Bag” and “The Messenger” by Alchemy Goods.
Sustainable and Ethical: BaZura Bags.
Freitag and Alchemy Goods represent pretty much the high-end of the practical, recycled materials bag market. However this business model has been picked up by others. Most notably, by the independent women's cooperative in the Philippines which produces the BaZura Bags line from recycled juice containers (!) and vinyl billboard material. Purchasing BaZura products directly supports the women assembling these in a fair trade workshop in Manilla. Sustainable, hip, ethical.
The Bazura Bag totes and diaper bag.