What does an eco-bag look like? Hmm. Are you thinking of a characterless, jute or hessian bag? Or something that does your soul good but looks rubbish? (because it *is* simply recycled rubbish) In fact, something that you don’t particularly like, but you by it and use it because it’s fair-trade, recycled and animal-free?
It shouldn’t be this way.
Plum Ethical, which opened on July 1st, 2009, has turned the whole idea of selling eco-ethical bags on it’s head. We talked to the founder of Plum Ethical, Simon Garrett. Here are his 5 reasons why bags must be beautiful:
(1) “First, eEco’ or ‘ethical’ does not have to mean ‘primitive’. You’d think it did, but it really doesn’t. Before the global economy, local communities made most of the things they needed, and they often made beautiful things, with very high levels of skill and craft. We’ve lost that, except in industries like fashion, which are not exactly known for the eco credentials. So when we reject big business and un-sustainability and exploitation, we think we need to reject the standard of the items that they produce too. We don’t.
“Plum Ethical is different because it stands up for beauty, it says, “You can have elegant, wonderful things that are made in a responsible community-building, earth-caring, animal-free way.” And then it sells them.
(2) “Responsible bags don’t have to be cheap. If you go to most eco stores, you’ll find the item prices are uniformly pretty low. This is seen as a good thing, but why?!! If I buy a bag for the price of a book, a chunk goes to the seller (so they can make a living), a chunk goes to the wholesaler (so they can make a living) and the rest goes to the bag artisan, assuming there’s no one else in the chain. How much money do you think they get? It might have taken them a week to make that bag, but they’ll probably only get a handful of coins. That can’t be right.
“Plum Ethical starts at the other end. What is a fair price for the bag artisan and their skill? How much does the wholesaler need? How much does Plum Ethical need? Then we get the final price that the customer pays. Yes, the price is higher, sometimes a lot higher, but it rewards quality, effort, time and beauty, and the supply chain is strong and can do the right thing at each link. This is a collection of linked, local businesses, each enriching their local communities.
(3) “Bag websites should sell bags. Many eco and ethical websites owners are understandably passionate about their ethical credentials (so are we!) and they want to tell the world. The problem comes when the website is so busy telling people about the terrible things that happen in normal industry (and believe me they do some *vile* things) that they forget why the customer is there.
“At Plum Ethical, the focus is on the bags. The site is ethical, so just enjoy choosing a beautiful bag! Of course, there is information on the site about *how* Plum Ethical achieves its ethical goals, but it’s not front-and-centre, its just available if you want to read it.
(4) “Buying a bag should make you feel special. Yes you’re buying a bag that has supported several local communities, and packing it and getting it to you has required a minimal carbon footprint, and the bag itself is animal-free. That will make you feel good, but that’s not the point of buying a bag, otherwise you’d just make one yourself from any old thing. The point is that when you look at the bag, you enjoy the fact that you own it, and you like it. You haven’t bought the bag simply to patronise someone (in both senses of ‘patronise’), you’ve bought it because you love it.
(5) “Bags should be beautiful and carefully designed and thoughtful. Well, of course, because they reflect who you are! When we’re surrounded by beauty, our community becomes more beautiful. When we’re surrounded by concrete and grime and utilitarian personal items, we are de-humanised and feel less special. Beauty is part of culture, and culture is part of being human. Yes, it’s just a bag, but it’s also a small part of being beautiful and special, and enjoying being alive.”
Plum Ethical can be found at the link below. They sell beautiful eco and ethical bags! Please link to this page from your blog etc., if you want to support Plum Ethical and their aims.