Wednesday, October 29, 2008


A few days ago, I wrote a review of Baggu Bags,stating that although I thought the concept was great, the bags could be pushed further in terms of their overall sustainability. If you read the comment board for that post, you should have noticed the interesting post by Emily Sugihara, the Co-Founder of Baggu Bags:

Hi Antonio,

This is Emily from Baggu - I just wanted to address your concern about why we use Nylon instead of cloth. We think it actually makes Baggu greener.

When we designed Baggu, we took into account our product's entire life cycle (manufacturing, use, and end of life). Here's an explanation of the thinking that went into our fabric choice.

First, while nylon is a petroleum product, it is also a cradle to cradle material, meaning it can be recycled indefinitely. Baggu offers a recycling program to our customers. If a bag becomes damaged or worn out, customers can return their bags to us for a $1 credit towards a new Baggu. We collect the bags to eventually be recycled into new nylon.

Secondly, we felt very strongly about providing an alternative to plastic that was affordable and user friendly. A reusable bag is only green if it is actually being used to replace plastic bags. I personally keep three in my purse all the time, and I never, ever have to take a plastic bag, be it at the drug store, buying clothes, etc. Because cotton is not as strong as nylon, a much heavier weight fabric has to be used to carry the same weight load. I could never keep three heavy weight cotton/canvas totes in my purse - they wouldn't fit. People will actually use Baggu bag because of its appeal, its convenient compact size and strength, when they may have found larger cotton totes impractical. The average Baggu replaces 300 to 700 plastic bags every year.

Finally, the way our landfills are built nothing biodegrades. Not even food. All trash is basically sealed together in giant plastic liners to prevent the toxic things (like plastic bags), that are mixed in with the trash from contaminating the ground water. So unless your city has a composting program, a nylon bag in the landfill and a cotton bag in the landfill are exactly the same, only a cotton bag takes up more space.

Hope this explains our decision to use nylon. We're a small family run company, and we weighed the alternatives to come up with what we felt to be the best option. Thanks again for your blog post - it's really great to hear from people who care about the environment so much. This is why we're doing what we're doing!


Emily Sugihara

I've gone through and bolded what I thought were the two best points. Regarding the first point, too often we use the concept of recycling as a sort of indulgence, as a way of continuing past levels of consumption by simply stating, "oh, don't worry. It's recyclable." I don't necessarily believe that simply recycling is any better in the long run because many materials, when recycled degrade and become lesser things; recycling a plastic bottle doesn't get you a new plastic bottle, etc. But the concept of cradle to cradle products, I find very interesting. That is, we should not be content with simply recycling(or really, downcycling them) things, we should instead, upcycle them. If nylon is a material that can indeed be recycled indefinitely, then, yes, it's great.

The second point, i think, is the most compelling. I dont personally carry around my tote bags with me, simply because Emily is absolutely right, they take up tons of space and carrying around a tote full of tote isn't that fun. I think I spoke a little bit about this in the original Baggu post, but there is a certain inconvenience tied to the environmental movement that is almost fundemental to that movement. If you care about the environment, you're willing to go out of your way to do so. You take these extra steps to find a recycling bin, carry around real silverware, pay more for organic produce, take time to reasearch where your food and products come from, etc. But the problem with that approach is that there are a finite number of people who are willing to do all of that; for environmentalism to become mainstream and popular, it has to be a bit easier for people to adopt into their daily lives. I'm not advocating for environmentalism to be mindless or overly simplifed, no. We should definitely be cognizent and aware of every decision we make and the ramifcations those decisions have, but environmentalism should not be solely a culture of willful inconvenience. It should be enjoyable and enriching and to a certain degree, easy.

Baggu Bags do this really well because they fold up into neat squares that aren't overly heavy and don't take up tons of space. So, instead of a tote full of totes, you can just carry around three or four Baggu Bag squares at all times. You could even have one in your pack pocket! And that, I think, is pretty cool.

I was convinced by Emily's argument, so I bought a few. When they arrive, I'll use them for a bit and write another review.

Upcycle please,

Antonio Pacheco

PS: Speaking of totes! I just got a new one in the mail a few days ago from far, far away. It's nice, I guess.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice, you GUESS?! With the pubtrans button, even...wahz.

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