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The Journey of “The Dress”

I have always wanted to attend Sundance. I never imagined I would get the opportunity to go.

I received the amazing opportunity to represent Envirosax at the Alive! Expo Green Pavilion. Waiving goodbye to sunny San Diego 70-degree weather, I switched out my usual Norah Roberts novel and swimsuit for a wool coat and snow boots.

Greeted with a smile, my CEO and friend, Belinda David-Tooze was exuding excitement while also fighting jet lag from the 13-hour flight from her home in Australia. Don’t get me wrong, I was thrilled to see Belinda, but this infamous dress was on the forefront of my mind!

I had seen pictures of the couture dress made completely out of Envirosax, however, laying my eyes on the real deal was incredible! The detail, the time, the colors, the stitching, the thought, and creativity put into this outfit was astonishing.

It is the passion behind the creation that I love the most…

Belinda has always wanted to create a dress out of Envirosax because she believed it would spread the word of reuse in an artistic and modern way. Being a designer herself, she has a deep understanding of how difficult it can be for a young student straight out of fashion school to achieve success. These two passions came together and created a couture dress out of designer reusable bags.

I must add a great twist to this story; the beautiful model who attended Sundance and wore the dress is my sister, Jill, who has a career in Public Relations. I loved the moment when Belinda leaned over to me and said, “She’s brilliant, well spoken, and fabulous!”

Not only was she fabulous, she was fearless…

Getting Jill dressed was an event in itself! The dress consisted of four parts and weighed a good 20 lbs. While lacing the corset up, I was so impressed with how well made it was! I have trouble sewing on a button, so I cannot fathom how this young designer produced this masterpiece! So cool.

After tying the last knot and bending the last bone, gluing on the fake eyelashes and glossing the lips, Jill, now nicknamed “The Dress,” was ready to hit Main Street.

We knew The Dress was going to be a massive hit when the taxi driver asked to take a picture with her! This was just the beginning of the photography…

Even though the temperature on Main Street was a frigid 15-degrees, The Dress was on fire! Everyone from media to men, moms and their children, even celebs, begged to take a picture with Jill. The best part was their reactions when they were informed the glorious dress was made from designer reusable bags! The overall response from the celebrities who attended the Alive! Expo was humbling. Some of the actresses wanted to try on the dress and the actors were taken back and very impressed.

Sundance oozed creativity, originality, and progressiveness – a flawless fit for our first couture dress made entirely out of our bags, designed by a young grad student with a dream of becoming a costume designer for the movies!

Even though I didn’t catch one film at The Sundance Film Festival, my experience was wonderful! I felt so proud to work for Envirosax and be apart of the grand debut of The Dress! I also look forward to seeing future creations from talented designers featured at different events. The Oscars perhaps? You never know…

To view more photos of our dress, please visit our facebook page to view our photo album.

Like the designs in the dress? Click here to browse our bags and start saving the planet in style.

DKNY designer and her La Boheme bag 1

At an eco movie premiere held in New York City on July 8, 2010 hosted by Sting, Donna Karan was spotted flaunting one of our favourite Envirosax bags, the classic La Boheme Bag 1.

Fashion conscious and eco conscious, we love her style!

What’s so bad about bottles?

If you were asked how long it takes the average plastic water bottle to biodegrade, what would be your guess? Would you have thought maybe 100 or 200 years? Recent research from the Container Recycling Institute of America suggests that plastic bottles take some 700 years to breakdown into their toxic elements. Oh, is that all? Today, 80% of all general public solid waste ends up in landfill, while 10% is incinerated and only the last 10% is recycled. Because less than a single percent of plastics are recycled, almost all plastics end up in landfill sites. Or do they?


A typical landfill station

Floating Islands

It shouldn’t only be alarming that landfill stations worldwide are amassing billions of throwaway plastics, but that the oceans and river systems are too. Early last month, British adventurer and environmentalist David de Rothschild embarked on a spectacular voyage into the Pacific aboard a vessel engineered entirely of plastic products – the heralded ‘Plastiki’.

Traveling from San Francisco to Sydney, his crew’s mission is to heighten awareness of the tragic “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”. Located north-west of Hawaii, the patch was exposed in 1999 by researchers who found that the plastic, most from coastal cities in Asia and California, is “trapped indefinitely” by a vortex of currents that circulate clockwise around the North Pacific. The scientists approximate that the patch contains tens of thousands of plastic pieces per square mile, and its very existence is an ecological disaster.

In an interview with the Guardian UK, de Rothschild said, “The plastic water bottle epitomises everything about this throwaway, disposable society […] though I want the Plastiki to make a statement that it’s our lack of reuse, uses and disposal that it is at fault, and not the material itself”. Check out Tweets, facts and photos from de Rothschild’s journey by visiting: http://www.theplastiki.com/.


The long lives of plastic bottle pose a serious threat to the environment, but after 20 years the sales of bottled water might have finally reached a pinnacle. Non-profit organisation Food & Water Watch recently released a report labeled Bluewashing. In the document, research states, “The bottled water industry is a prime example of a corporate sector that is using these misleading marketing tactics to sell its products. In 2008, bottled water sales declined for the first time in years, partially due to the economy, but also largely due to growing awareness about the social and environmental impacts of the product”.

A growing social and environmental awareness has echoed through recent articles posted by the Washington Post, America’s National Public Radio and the Beverage Marketing Company. But also in 2008, Australians spent a record $500 million on bottled water. In response to the alarming figures, former New South Wales Premier Nathan Rees decided to take action. “We’re asking government departments to phase it out […] The reality is that the majority of people (surveyed) prefer tap water over spring or purified water in a blind taste test,” said Rees in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald. “These plastic bottles are everywhere,” he said. And still there remain billions of discarded plastic bottles adrift in the ocean currents and buried beneath once fertile land. Why is bottled water so popular?

The agencies and regulations

In Australia, new tap water drinking guidelines are being drafted and discussed. The Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/publications/synopses/eh19syn.htm) is undergoing a rolling revision that aims to encompass the latest scientific evidence on good quality drinking water. On the other hand, the Australasian Bottled Water Institute (ABWI) is the responsible industry association for water bottlers and suppliers in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific. The ABWI work closely with their government regulators and affiliates to ensure their consumers “enjoy safe, high quality, good tasting bottled water”. Nevertheless, to ensure these standards are met, the bottled water industry demands petroleum and energy to produce its billions of plastic packaging:

“In a recent report, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) quoted waste industry experts who claimed that for the purpose of landfill management, the bottled would never decompose. A significant amount of energy is further used in the transportation of bottled water products. This too can cause more pollution and contribute to global warming,” (Bluewashing, 2010).

In recent years, Gigi Kellett and the Corporate Accountability International group (CAI) in the United States – renowned for their unyielding campaigns against tobacco companies in the 90s – have been quashing common water and bottled water misconceptions. In an interview with AlterNet, Kellett said not only does tap water often taste the same as bottled water, but it is also often safer to drink as well. “They are spending tens of millions of dollars every year to undermine our confidence in tap water even though water systems here in the United States are better regulated than bottled water,” she said. In the US tap water is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which imposes strict limits on chemicals and bacteria, constant testing by government agencies, and mandatory notification to the public in the event of contamination.

As opposed to water from the tap, bottled water in the US is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which by federal law is bound to the same standards as the EPA. According the report from Alternet, “The devil is in the details, since FDA regulations only apply to water that is bottled and transported between states, it excludes the two-thirds of water that is solely transported within states. What’s more, FDA regulations rely on companies to do their own testing, and perform voluntary recalls if products are found to be in violation of standards”(http://www.alternet.org/story/43480/). A 1999 study of more than 1,000 bottles of water by the National Resources Defense Council found that while most bottled water was safe, some brands violated strict state standards on bacterial contamination, while others were found to contain harmful chemicals such as arsenic. The report concluded that bottled water was no safer than water taken from the tap.

The chemicals

Today, almost two thirds of the non-carbonated, non-alcoholic beverages are packaged in polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic bottles. Especially prone to littering, these bottles have a lower recycling rate than any of the most common packaging materials. PET plastic is a petroleum product. Because it is currently recycled at a low rate, tens of billions of new plastic bottles must be manufactured each year from virgin materials — fossil fuels — to replace those that were not recycled. In 2005, The Container Recycling Institute estimated that approximately 18 million barrels of crude oil were used to replace the two million tons of PET bottles that were dumped in landfill stations. When PET plastics are constructed using virgin materials (rather than used bottle resin), greenhouse gases are produced. In the making of 50 billion PET bottles, an estimated 800 thousand metric tonnes of carbon equivalent (MTCE) were released into the earth’s atmosphere. Regardless of the bottle’s weight or what the plastic is made of, a plastic bottle still needs to be disposed of. The problem still remains – three out of every four bottles still end up thrown out in the trash (US GAO, 2009).

Alternatives, solutions and conclusions

It has been shown that there are a litany of environmental and ecological consequences pertaining to the processing, production and disposal of plastic bottles. There are many, many case studies and scientific reports that relate the impact of the bottle to the endangerment of wildlife and marine life, air and water pollution associated with raw material extraction; as well as land filling and incineration.

However, all hope is not lost. Recycling a single plastic bottle can conserve enough energy to light a 60-watt light bulb for up to six hours. Recycled plastic bottles can be remade into products like clothing, carpeting, detergent bottles and lumber for outdoor decking. Furthermore, producing new plastic products from recycled materials uses two-thirds less energy than is required to make products from raw (virgin) materials. This in turn also reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Realistically, the production of plastics for bottles and other packaged goods seem unlikely to grind to a screaming halt anytime soon. Though in decline, the demand for bottled water is high; the convenience is apparent and their popularity is still prevalent.

With knowledge of the dangers plastic bottles can have on the environment and on one’s self, as well as their inflated cost and, indeed, the fact tap water tastes fine and is highly regulated, should be reason enough to take up the challenge and promote healthy and environmentally safe water habits. The buck stops with you!

Bottled Water Facts


  • Australians spend more than half a billion dollars a year on bottled water. Last year, the sale of bottled water increased by 10 percent.
  • Producing and delivering a litre of bottled water can emit hundreds of times more greenhouse gases than a litre of tap water.
  • According to British research, drinking one bottle of water has the same environmental impact as driving a car for a kilometre.
  • In many cases, a litre of bottled water is more expensive than a litre of petrol. Department of Environment and Climate Change estimates that 200ml of oil is used to produce, package, transport and refrigerate each litre bottle of bottled water. As a result, at least 50 million litres of oil are used in the manufacture and distribution of bottled water in Australia every year.
  • Australia recycles only 36% of PET plastic drink bottles.
  • In South Australia, which has Container Deposit Legislation, the plastic bottle recycling rate is 74%. A 2007 national Newspoll commissioned by Clean Up Australia found that those polled 82% support a CDL scheme of 10c on bottles.
  • Australia’s annual use of bottled water generates more than 60,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions – the same amount that 13,000 cars generate over the course of a year.
  • (Bottled Water Alliance – www.bottledwateralliance.com.au)


  • Americans throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour.
  • The average American consumes 167 bottles of water a year.
  • The federal standards for tap water are higher than those for bottled water.
  • Americans will buy an estimated 25 billion single-serving, plastic water bottles this year. Eight out of 10 (22 billion) will end up in a landfill.
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do not regulate 60-70 percent of bottled water.
  • For the 30-40 percent it does regulate, the FDA only requires companies to test a sample of water once per week.
  • The EPA requires testing of municipal water systems between 300-480 times per month
  • The shipment of bottled water burns massive quantities of fossil fuel, a weekly convoy of 37,000 18- wheelers.
  • The incineration of the plastic bottles releases toxic byproducts such as chlorine gas and ash laden with heavy metals into the air.
  • According to the Beverage Marketing Corp, the average American consumed 1.6 gallons of bottled water in 1976. In 2006, that number jumped to 28.3 gallons.
  • Today, 80 percent of Americans have access to a plastics recycling program.
  • More than 2.4 billion pounds of plastic bottles were recycled in 2008. Although the amount of plastic bottles recycled in the U.S. has grown every year since 1990, the actual recycling rate remains steady at around 27%.
  • In 2007, more than 325 million pounds of wide-mouth plastic containers were recovered for recycling. (This included deli containers, yogurt cups, etc.)
  • In recent years, the number of U.S. plastics recycling business has nearly tripled. More than 1,600 businesses are involved in recycling post-consumer plastics.
  • Plastics in the U.S. are made primarily (70%) from domestic natural gas.
  • Plastic bags and product wraps (known collectively as “plastic film”) are commonly recycled at the many collection programs offered through major grocery stores.
  • Recycling just one tonne of plastic saves 7.4 cubic yards of landfill space.
  • During Keep America Beautiful’s 2008 Great American Cleanup, volunteers recovered and recycled 189,000,000 PET (plastic) bottles that littered highways, waterways and parks.
  • (http://www.container-recycling.org/, http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org, http://www.nrdc.org/, http://www.recyclenow.org/, http://www.epa.gov/)

Mo’Nique receives Best Supporting Actress award

The 67th Annual Golden Globe Awards were held this Sunday. Envirosax would like to offer our congratulations to Mo’Nique for winning best supporting actress on the night. Mo’Nique earned the Golden Globe for her part in the movie Precious, pictured here with Envirosax and also accepting her award.

The actress/comedienne gave a heartfelt acceptance speech for her role in playing an abusive mother. “I celebrate this award with all the Preciouses, with all the Marys, I celebrate this award with every person that’s ever been touched. It’s now time to tell.”

Also nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama for her role in Precious was newcomer Gabourey Sidibe.

Mo’Nique carrying Oxford bag 2

Mo’Nique accepting Golden Globe for Best Supporting actress

Gabourey Sidibe, who was also nomintated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama for her role in Precious

100% Recycled RPET: The Facts

With the growth of the green economy in the past decade, some companies have cottoned-on to the “feel good” factor that goes with saying their bags are made from recycled materials.

While marketing teams slap high-fives and revel in another highly-profitable, customer-friendly initiative, the consumers and bag-buyers are left with an important question: who do we believe?

Should more care be taken when buying reusable bags from companies who claim they use 100% recycled materials, or bags made from 100% RPET or recycled bottles?

First, the facts: PET is the chemical substance Polyethylene terephthalate, commonly known as Polyester. Prefixing with an R means the polyester contains recycled content. The content can contain either pre-consumer (e.g. factory off cuts) or post-consumer (e.g. plastic bottles) waste.

Upon request, Dr John Schiers of Polymer Analysis in Melbourne conducted testing for Envirosax regarding the true contents of various polyester yarns made from supposedly “recycled content”. Please consider that it’s very difficult to perform a test to tell the difference between genuine RPET and cheap virgin polyester. His conclusions to the tests are as follows:

“It is not possible to determine by testing the actual recycled content of a particular item due to the additives in the fibres (e.g. dyes, lustrants and spin finishes) as they interfere with the results. This testing, along with other research we have conducted, highlights the following: It cannot be claimed that polyester items are made from a specific number of bottles unless evidence is provided on how this was calculated.

Due to the massive demand for RPET, supply of the material from certified sources is no longer sufficient. There are now many companies in China that produce bottles for the sole purpose of recycling them immediately into so-called RPET. This is green-washing at its worst and amounts to consumer fraud.

As a result of the huge demand, manufacturer prices on certified RPET are considerably higher than that of virgin polyester. If a company claims a bag is made from 100% RPET without certification, but it’s not much more expensive than a virgin polyester bag, then common-sense suggests that the bag probably isn’t made from RPET.

The terminology regarding material composition in some so-called RPET bags is cleverly phrased so that a quick-read indicates the bags are 100% RPET. A careful reading reveals that this is not the case. Phrases such as, “Produced from 100% recycled bottles” actually means the bottles used in the material were recycled, but doesn’t actually equate to a bag composed of entirely recycled bottles.

Without certification, companies may be deceptive in what they declare to be the content of recycled polyester in their product. Currently, and to the best of our knowledge, SCS Scientific Certification Systems is the only company in the world able to accurately test recycled content in material. Without this proper certification other issues may transpire.

While Envirosax were researching companies who make RPET from 100% recycled content, they were quite often presented with fake SCS certificates and fake documentation. Certification ensures that the amount of recycled content in the product has been verified. As testing has shown, it’s not possible to differentiate between a composition of material that may be only 10% RPET and the rest virgin polyester. The significantly higher cost of producing goods made of 100% RPET compels pricing of products upwards. With this in mind, take heed when buying goods that do not display their certification – you may be paying the price of a marketing ploy rather than a greener, more environmentally friendly product.


After four years of researching RPET manufacturers, Envirosax Pty Ltd has gone into a partnership with Unifi Inc of the USA to create its own SCS certified Envirosax RPET. Envirosax RPET is a mix of 55% flat filament polyester and 45% Repreve® polyester (Unifi Inc).

The 45% Repreve® in the Envirosax RPET is made up of 100% recycled content, 65% pre-consumer and 35% post-consumer recycled polyester content (predominantly plastic bottles).

Repreve® is third party certified by Scientific Certification Systems (SCS) and Oeka-Tex, and also meets FTC guidelines for recycled products.

The Repreve® process involves converting the pre and post-consumer waste into RPET pellets rather than producing virgin PET pellets. The pellets are the core material used in creating polyester fabric. Essentially, the pellets are heated and stretched to create the filaments that are rolled into yarn and then weaved to make polyester.

The process is so unique the Discovery Channel featured it on an episode of How It’s Made.

Apart from the obvious environmental benefits of using recycled content in the material, the process of creating the fabric as compared to virgin polyester also has many ecological advantages. The method of manufacturing the polyester yarn conserves 3.34 litres of gasoline to every kilo of polyester yarn made. With approximately 25 million tonnes of polyester produced globally per annum, this figure becomes a significant amount. (NOTE: Conservation calculations are specific only to the SCS certified Repreve yarn product which Envirosax uses.)

RPET is a fantastic idea and if manufactured properly can reduce our carbon footprint significantly. However, the industry must be kept honest and companies must be held accountable for claims they make when marketing their goods.

Have a merry sustainable holiday season!

This season enjoy your holidays while remembering to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

Household waste increases by an average 25% over the holiday period with the majority of the refuse being food waste, Christmas trees, cards and gift wrapping.

In the US alone over 2.65 billion Christmas cards are sold each year, 28 billion pounds (12.7 billion kgs) of food is wasted and shockingly half of the paper the US consumes annually is used to wrap gifts. This results in a hefty 4 million tons of gift wrap and bags thrown in the waste.

These figures are made even more astounding when only a very small percentage is ever recycled.

Wrapping gifts in paper was created by Hallmark in early Victorian times. It was a process of the wealthy as the poor could not afford thelavish decorated paper. It originated wh en a prominant store ran out of the usual tissue paper and patterned paper was put out on the shelf in replacement. Before this time gifts were wrapped much more sustainably in material, and even perfected to an art form by the japanese.

So here are the Envirosax tips to reduce unnecessary waste this holiday season:

  • Consider sending an electronic greeting card
  • Put leftovers in recyclable containers, share them with family and friends or donate whole, untouched leftovers to homeless shelters. Where possible, compost leftover food scraps.
  • Create beautiful, reusable wrapping for your gift with an Envirosax bag, as in our video below.

Winners of “What Your Pets Mean to You” Contest

Thank you to everyone who entered our “What Your Pets Mean to You” contest. The Envirosax staff had a terrific time looking at all of the great photos and reading the wonderful write ups. After much deliberation, it was hard to decide from so many cute photos, so we added a few honorable mentions as well. Here are our winners.

(Winners will be contacted via Facebook by an Envirosax staff member to receive your prizes.)

Funniest: Rudy and Kasper sent in by Megan Yani


Best Dressed: Sam and Cassius as Spiderman and Captain Jack Sparrow sent in by Staci Summers


Owner / Pet Look Alike: “Bearded Buddies” sent in by Marty Heflin


Honorable mention:

Webee sent in by Lindsey Stockton Garret


Lila sent in by Mary Elizabeth Kirkpatrick


Karma sent in by Julie Bacon


Thank you to all who entered! Don’t forget, during the month of November Envirosax will donate $1 from the sale of every Graphic Series pouch (set of 5 bags) and every Aqua Reusable Water Bottle sold on the Envirosax website to the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals)


BPA Free?

What is BPA and is it dangerous?

The ‘big 3’ in a customer driven organization is providing ‘quality, cost and on-time delivery’. The latter aside, perceived quality can be very different from the actual quality a consumer is receiving. An online search for the term ‘reusable water bottles’ will bring up a wide array of companies, around 90% of which use the term “BPA free” concerning their reusable bottles.

Since a popular reusable bottle was linked to the chemical BPA (Bisphenol A), the term has been widely reported and has quickly escalated into mainstream media.

BPA is a chemical used to make polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resin. The plastic is used in some food and drink containers and the resin is used as lacquers to coat metal products such as food cans and metal water bottles. There are mixed reports as to the dangers of BPA but it is generally agreed that the chemical does transfer across to food and liquid in older food and beverage containers. The NTP (National Toxicology Program) released a report with their findings, in which they expressed concern with BPA’s effect on the human body, and in particular, on infants and children. NTP Associate Director John Bucher Ph.D concluded that “the possibility that BPA may affect human development cannot be dismissed”.

So it is for good reason that consumers are turning towards products that state they are BPA Free. Despite the fact that the published research is still rather inconclusive as to the detrimental effects of BPA, it is prudent to avoid the chemical wherever possible until a definitive conclusion has been made.

BPA and Water Bottles

When a new bottle is made, testing procedures are undertaken in laboratory conditions to ensure the beverage within the container will stay chemical free. A reputable, certified testing lab will conduct a leaching test at 90C (194F) for 3 days in order to simulate usage and ageing. These are extreme conditions for the bottle and cap. After this time the contents of the bottle are tested for contaminates. It is at this crucial point where labs can differ in the results they present.

Different labs will have different limits as to what they can detect. For a given sample, one lab may not detect BPA due to their testing limits while another will detect BPA every time. Generally BPA is tested in parts per billion or parts per million (abbreviated ppb & ppm). A comparison of results from four major labs showed their testing limits varied greatly. Below is a table showing from top to bottom the most effective testing limits found to the least effective.

Company A (USA) 0.25 ppb 0.00025ppm Most effective
Company B (China) 200 ppb 0.2 ppm  
Company C (USA) 400 ppb 0.4 ppm  
Company D (China) 10,000 ppb 10 ppm Least effective

Company A is able to detect BPA if only 0.25 ppb is found, yet Company D would not be able to detect BPA if the chemical was found to be under 10,000 ppb. These are two modern labs providing results used as certification on consumer goods, yet one is 40,000 times as accurate as the other. It is scary to think that one “BPA Free” bottle could potentially have 40,000 times as much BPA in it as another marked as “BPA Free”, depending on which labs were used to do the testing.

Health Canada and the EFSA Europe have set the following Tolerable Daily Intake for BPA limits per kilogram of bodyweight.

Europe – TDI of 0.05 milligram/kg body weight (eg 70kg person = 3.5mg TDI per day)

Canada – TDI of 0.025 milligram/kg body weight

A 600ml bottle tested by Company D could theoretically leach up to 6 milligrams of BPA into the water over the testing period (enough to be in excess of the TDI for anyone weighing less than 120kg or 264lbs), and still be called “BPA Free” according to that lab’s standards.

Therefore, it is important when purchasing your bottle that you ask the company what limits they test down to. The claim “BPA Free” is readily used as a marketing tool to imply the bottles do not contain any traces at all. On the contrary, the lab may not have been capable of testing down to the most sensitive limit.

Finally, it is worth noting that a number of bottle manufacturers claim that they are BPA free simply because the bottles are made from stainless steel and have no plastic liner. It may be true that the bottle itself is BPA free, but the contaminates can come from the polycarbonate/polypropylene lids. Whatever part of the bottle BPA may leach from, the hazard could still be there.

This article has been written to give the facts about the industry, which is still largely unregulated. Again it is left down to consumers to sift through the spin. Anyone can claim to be “BPA Free” but unless the company is transparent with their certified testing results, as a careful consumer you should be wary of what you may be purchasing.

Polypropylene Bags – Tomorrows Landfill

From New York to Sydney and everywhere in between, people are carrying reusable bags.

Not surprisingly, large corporations and retailers have jumped on the bandwagon, offering cheap or free reusable shopping bags as a badge of being green.

Unfortunately, these cheap reusable shopping bags are often more of a marketing ploy than a great choice for the environment. To be effective in reducing waste, reusable bags must be able to be reused time and again, and therefore must be extremely durable. Polypropylene bags will decompose after exposure to UV light – below is an example of the affect UV light has on the tensile strength of a polypropylene bag when left in sunlight for 6 months.


Do not be fooled into thinking that polypropylene is an environmentally sound alternative. You may even find the term “biodegradable” on some of these bags (see below), but the standards for use of this term is that the bag must be biodegradable in a ‘commercially managed compost environment’. This unfortunately has little to do with the reality of biodegradability; in real world disposal scenarios, without the controlled conditions specified in these standards, the bags will not break down and biodegrade in a reasonable amount of time and will not decompose to organic material that can be put to use by other micro-organisms, as the term ‘biodegradable’ suggests.


Vincent Cobb (founder of reusablebags.com) recently discussed the futility of reusable bags that aren’t made to last (here). When asked if the solution is becoming a part of the problem, he didn’t hesitate a moment – “Absolutely,” he said, explaining that some are made so cheaply they fall apart after a few uses. “They are becoming more of the junk.

A cheap non-woven polypropylene bag must be made inexpensively. The construction and material of the bag are of poor quality and they have a tendency to give way after loading them with groceries only a handful of times. Ironically, the ‘reusable’ bags themselves end up in the garbage can.

As a consumer, an additional concern is where and by whom are these bags being made? For the retail price of a “reusable bag” to be $1, the labour and distribution costs must be extremely low. At this price is it possible to ensure all employees and suppliers are treated fairly and in adherence to Fair Trade guidelines?

Using an alternative material such as polyester (which has far better tensile strength properties than polypropylene), printed with the process of sublimation, will yield a more durable bag in which the color will not fade.

Digging a little deeper reveals that many reusable bags are nothing more than another example of green-washing.

A high quality reusable bag eliminates hundreds of cheap reusable bags, and thousands of paper and plastic bags over its lifetime.

Jessica Alba and Queen Latifah have “it”

Hollywood – a jungle of fashion conscious women and men somewhat clawing their way into the limelight.

But two cool ladies that seem to effortlessly take all in their (regal?) stride are Jessica Alba and Queen Latifah.

Pictured below, the lovely actresses who with a collection of Golden Globes,Grammys, and World’s Sexiest Women awards between them, put their best fashion clad foot forward with the Retro Graphic and Oxford Bags.

Jessica AlbaJessica Alba and Retro Graphic Bag 3


Queen LatifahQueen Latifah Oxford Bag 2