Sustainability at BAGGU
Sustainability has been a part of BAGGU's mission since we started making reusable shopping bags back in 2007.
For much of BAGGU's history, our sustainability efforts focused on the elimination and minimization of waste in our operations and production processes. Sustainability can feel daunting and complex, and given our limited resources as a small company, prioritizing waste reduction felt like a natural focus — an extension of our mission to eliminate single use plastic bags.
As we've grown, we've worked to commit greater resources to operating sustainably, and to addressing sustainability more holistically. Our current Sustainability Team includes members from all our departments — Design, Production, Operations, Marketing, Brand — and meets on a monthly basis to identify and prioritize new opportunities for improvement across the company.
Designing for Longevity
Designing bags sustainably means designing them to last. We want every bag we make to live a long, productive life so we prioritize quality, ensuring our materials and construction hold up over time and age with character. We also do this by staying true to our creative vision at any given moment — we always want the things we make to feel timely and relevant, but we do our best to avoid chasing trends.
Minimal Waste Design
To minimize waste and increase durability, our reusable bags are assembled from one continuous piece of recycled nylon material, with the neck of the bag used to construct the carrying pouch. This is one of the ways in which we work to eliminate waste during the actual construction of our products, and we are working to better implement this idea across our entire product line.
As Few Materials as Possible
We intentionally design into a limited set of core materials. This lets us put more resources into the development of each fabrication, understand its social and environmental impact, and verify it's long-term durability. By buying deeper into fewer fabric stocks, we can avoid fabric waste and reduce the cost of recycled fabrications.
All Vegan Line
As of Fall 2020 we have phased leather out of our product line. In the interest of eliminating unnecessary waste, we will continue to sell through our existing leather product stock until it is gone.
BAGGU made leather accessories for several years and we liked that it was a durable, natural material. However, as we grew in size, we spent more time researching the full impact of our leather program. As we learned more about the treatment of the cows, how the material was processed, and how leather scores on the Higg Index compared to synthetics, it became clear that dropping it from our line was the right thing to do.
All of our ripstop nylon styles — including our namesake reusable bags — are made with 40% recycled material, and all of our heavyweight nylon styles are made with 59% recycled material. We use a recycled nylon filament yarn produced from pre-consumer waste, which means we're saving scrap material from being landfilled, and in turn helping conserve petroleum resources and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Why 40% and 59% recycled? See our note on percentages below.
All of our canvas bags currently in production are made from 65% recycled cotton. The recycled cotton fibers come from pre-consumer waste — recovered during the creation of other cotton products, like t-shirts and socks — that would otherwise have gone to a landfill.
Why 65% recycled? See our note on percentages below.
A Note on Percentages
Why aren't our Recycled Nylon and Recycled Canvas 100% recycled material? Part of the answer is about affordability, and part is about durability.
Affordability is the reason our recycled ripstop nylon is 40% recycled and our heavyweight nylon is 59% recycled. We've custom-developed our recycled nylon fabrics, and unfortunately the cost goes up as the recycled percentage increases. Ultimately, our goal is to develop 100% recycled nylon fabric, but for now these percentages are the maximum we can incorporate without compromising affordability. As technology progresses and demand for recycled nylon increases, this percentage will grow.
Durability is the reason our recycled canvas is 65% recycled. When cotton is recycled, the process breaks down its natural fibers, resulting in shorter “staple” fibers than would be found in virgin cotton. Spinning together recycled and virgin cotton fibers results in a more sustainable canvas fabric that still meets our high standards of strength and durability. Simply put, a 100% recycled canvas Duck Bag would cost more and wear out faster.
Recycled Mesh & Polyfill
Our Mesh styles and the polyfill in our Puffy styles are produced from 100% post-consumer recycled PET (polyethylene terephthalate), best known as the clear plastic used for water bottles. These materials have passed the GRS (Global Recycled Standard) Certification, and we estimate that one Mesh Baggu is made from approximately 4.9 plastic bottles!
Recycled Paper Packaging & Mailers
We package our products as minimally as possible, using as little plastic as possible. Most of our packaging is made from paper, and starting late 2020, all our paper packaging will be made from FSC-certified 100% recycled paper stock, with non-plastic eco-friendly coatings that are fully recyclable. All our hang-tag strings are made from 100% cotton and the polybags our products ship in are all biodegradable. The mailers we use to ship our orders are made in the US from 100% recycled paper and are fully recyclable.
Biodegradable Poly Bags
Plastic poly bags suck, and we wish we didn’t have to use them. However, they are the best way to make sure our products arrive undamaged to our warehouse and to our customers. We think the impact from poly bags is ultimately less than that of discarding lots of dirty, damaged products. We also do our best to use them as sparingly as possible, packing multiple products in shared polybags for shipment to our warehouse.
Our poly bags are certified 100% biodegradable (they comply with ISO 14021:1999 “Environmental labels and declarations”, under the definition of “Biodegradable”), which means they biodegrade in landfills. The polybags will maintain their protective performance without compromising shelf life, unless placed into an active microbial environment, such as a landfill. Once in the landfill, an additive used in the poly bags attracts microorganisms which decompose the poly bag.
Bio Dry Packets
The moisture absorbing packets used in our poly bags are 100% non toxic and made from a mineral-based desiccant. Traditional silica gel packets require significant chemical and energy inputs to produce, and generate large amounts of wastewater. By comparison, our mineral-based desiccant packets are not only less resource intensive to produce, they are also more moisture absorbent!
Production & Product Lifecycle
Code of Conduct
We are guided by a simple but unwavering principle: Do the right thing.
This begins with recognizing that every product we make has a social and environmental impact. We are committed to doing everything in our power to minimize and control these impacts on the environment while bolstering the well-being of both our own employees and those of our partners.
Our code of conduct highlights the expectations we have of ourselves and of our manufacturers, to practice business responsibly and sustainably. You can read our code of conduct here.
Our products are ethically manufactured in China, where we have long-standing relationships with our ISO 9001:2015- and ISO 140001-certified manufacturers. These manufacturing facilities are audited yearly by an independent third party, to ensure they are upholding standards of occupational health and safety, and that humane work hours and wages are enforced. Our production team also visits our manufacturers yearly to inspect production and meet the teams producing our bags.
For the materials we work with and the price point we design toward, our partners in China offer us the best combination of advanced manufacturing technologies, ethical work practices, and affordable production.
We understand why many consumers are concerned about the ethics of manufacturing in China. We share these same concerns, and we hold all our manufacturers to our Code of Conduct . You can read our code of conduct here.
No Incineration Policy
BAGGU was created to eliminate unnecessary waste, and that means responsibly managing deadstock products and fabric. We never incinerate or landfill our deadstock products.
When your nylon or canvas bag has schlepped its last load, you can recycle it by dropping it off at any of our store locations, or by shipping it to:
9860 Gidley St
El Monte, CA 91731
Once you’ve sent your bags to be recycled, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll provide you with a discount to use toward a new bag!
Our recycling partner, American Textile Recycling Service (ATRS), is committed to keeping textiles out of landfills by making textile recycling easier. Any nylon or canvas bag they collect will be either recycled and repurposed, donated to in-need organizations, or shared within the second-hand clothing market.