Urban hipsters might feel fashionable lugging their kale and beets home in an eco-friendly tote. Environmentalists would swear that the earth is better for it. A business person, however, would point out that while these pretty totes are functional, they almost always promote a business logo—and that’s just clever marketing. There’s nothing wrong with being green and business-savvy, says Hena Morrero, president of Bags Go Green
, a company that produces stylish, earth-friendly totes for the food and wine industry made from natural materials such as jute and cotton.
Prior to starting her company in 1990, Morrero recognized how much waste single-use plastic bags produced, having used them to carry her own things about town. “Why not use natural fiber bags instead of plastic?” she asked herself, like those made from jute. Jute, according to Morrero, is an indigenous plant that grows abundantly in eastern India and has been farmed and harvested by small families using traditional methods passed down through generations. The production of jute bags didn’t catch on until the 19th Century when jute fibers were shipped to Scotland to be woven into fabric for commercial use.
Today, jute fibers is used to package heavy weight commodities such as rice, nuts, sugar, cocoa, and coffee, making them a sensible option for the everyday grocer as well. Restaurants—Blue Hill in New York and Brix in Napa Valley—food markets—Whole Foods and Oakville—and stores like Sur La Table have already begun selling these natural fiber bags produced by Bags Go Green to their guests.
They’ll custom design the bag to fit your business, or your clientele, making everything from yoga bags to hand clutches, even small lunch saks and wine totes to the traditional all-day-carry-all bag. The added value in the Bags Go Green totes comes from the publicity—having your business name printed on the front. That is why Morrero recommends businesses selling the bags at “cost plus.” If you choose to sell them, she says, it’s best to just cover the cost of the bag since you’ll get the exposure of people just sporting them around. But most importantly, Morrero feels that industry could help its public by offering affordable green choices, so that being green doesn’t have to be expensive. Of course whether you sell or gift the bags to your customers is your choice, the end goal is still the same—to reduce the use of plastic bags.