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JUTE SHOPPING BAGS

Back where I grew up, every morning people go to the market to shop for the ingredients of day’s meal. The head of the household makes a trip to the local market, with two sacks in hand, exchanging pleasantries with neighbors on the same randevu. The sacks they take to the market to carry the grocery items are usually made of a plant fiber. They are inexpensive, very durable, thoroughly washable and last a long time. These simple sacks serve the very important purpose of carrying moderately heavy loads for years on end. They remain strong and sturdy through daily use and frequent washing, so much so that if the bags remain in good condition, sometimes they are passed on to the next generation! That is the ultimate example of durability and recyclability and above all- value. They are the most economical shopping bags for people in places with limited resources; places, where discarding, even shopping bags, is not an economically viable option.

Those grocery sacks are made of a plant fiber called “jute”. Jute is a shiny beige vegetable fiber which grows in abundance, without much fertilizer or pesticide, in the wet, warm and humid region of the Bay of Bengal. The coarse fiber comes from the stem and outer skin of the plant. Strong threads are spun out of this coarse fiber. The thread is woven into items, such as rugs, clothes, baskets and bags. Jute products are simply elegant yet affordable.

But before we move forward to talk about the economy and importance of using plant fiber bags in the west, let us look at the economics of plastic bags. The reason the grocers and the retail stores in the US offer plastic bags for free, is their cost. Any merchant can buy in wholesale, 100 of these bags for as little as $2.00 or less. That amounts to 2c or less per bag! At this price businesses can afford to give them to consumers in unlimited numbers, without much cost to the overall profit margin. From a business stand point that is a great value.

And there lies the problem. Large numbers of these plastic bags, dispensed freely for decades, have finally started to take its toll. The millions and millions of discarded plastic bags now is wreaking environmental havoc in landfills, as well as in the Oceans. Ultimately, our planet that we all love and share, turned out to bare the high cost of cheap plastic bag use.

The problem is serious enough to prompt many large cities to take action by banning plastic bag use. People everywhere are now looking for durable and recyclable alternatives to plastic bags, partly because of the enforcement of the law, but largely because everyone wants to do right by the environment. Conscious shoppers everywhere are ready for a kind of shopping bag which will feel genuinely good about using them. Jute bags in their simple beauty, durability, affordability, versatility, and recyclable property are the most sensible alternative to plastic and other disposable bags.

It is an ideal transition from harmful disposable to an alternative that is literally from the earth, for the earth. The economic value of using these bags far surpasses the values of all cheap, discarded plastic bags combined.

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