By Shea & Raan Parton
Photos from ISA TanTec & Others
We’ve shared a lot in the past about how grateful we are that Customized Market Bags help break a poverty cycle in Bangladesh by providing Fair Trade-certified wages, profit dividends, and a retirement fund for the Bangladeshi moms who handcraft these bags (learn more here). But something we haven’t highlighted as much is the ways these bags are also designed to have a low impact on the environment.
Leather Handles Made Right
Because we believe the products you purchase help shape the world we live in, we want to make products with as little environmental impact to the environment as possible. That’s why the market bags feature leather handles made using an environmentally friendly process.
Every pair of handles features LITE leather — LITE standing for Low Impact To the Environment — made by ISA TanTec, an internationally recognized and externally audited organization committed to eco-friendly products. The leather itself is sourced from a fully traceable meat processing facility, with cows treated according to high standards of animal welfare.
ISA TanTec’s production facilities use bamboo walls, solar power and wind energy, natural light, rainwater, and engineered wetlands to maximize eco-friendliness. They seek to minimize the amount of chemicals and energy used in the process, resulting in leather handles which are high-quality, reliable, and made in an environmentally conscientious way. You can learn more about the process here.
Eco-Friendly Jute Fiber
All of our bags are also made from golden jute fiber, which comes from the stem and outer skin of the plant. For centuries, Bangladesh has been one of the world's top producers of this environmentally friendly plant. While visiting one of the co-ops behind the market bag in 2017, I kept seeing bridges with jute hanging off the sides to dry. It seems like jute is everywhere in Bangladesh – even on the money, as many taka coins prominently feature an image of jute leaves.
The fibers are extracted by bundling jute stems together and immersing them in running water. The raw fibers are then transported to the wonderful folks at our manufacturing co-ops, who craft them into the bags you know and love. One of the best things about jute fiber is that it is strong and durable, yet is sustainably harvested in a way which doesn't negatively impact the local economy or environment.
We're so pleased to say that our long-lasting and durable market bags feature eco-friendly materials like the jute fiber and conscientiously sourced leather. Check out the images below of the eco-conscious process behind the market bag's leather handles, including an infographic on how these handles result in practical energy savings. Plus, take a look at the jute plants these bags are made of — including our new Customizable Standard Market Tote in Black and in Light Blue.