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Nature Bag Review on Treehugger
http://www.treehugger.com/files/2011/05/paper-plastic-or-kudzu.php
 
5/20/2011 - When I wrote about a study suggesting plastic bags might be the greenest option after all, many commenters objected. Pablo's follow up post on the merits and drawbacks of paper versus plastic versus reusable bags provided some more useful numbers, and suggested that buying reusable bags makes most sense—but only if you hold onto them. But the impact of those reusable bags varies, of course, depending on what they are made from and how they are made. That's why my ears pricked up when I heard about handwoven reusable bags made from wild-harvested kudzu. Could this be the greenest option of all? The Nature Bag website suggests that these bags are handwoven by members of the Khmu indigenous minority in Laos, from something they are calling JungleVine® cord. On closer inspection that JungleVine®turns out to be kudzu, which is native to the region, and can be harvested without the need for cultivation or agriculture. The result, they say, is a versatile, elastic and 100% biodegradable textile that's been used for over 5000 years—and an opportunity to support economic empowerment of a marginalized community:
Southeast Asia's poorest make these environment-friendly tote bags at home by hand. Coordination and quality control come from a 23 year-old Laotian student. Skilled volunteers empower our poverty-reduction mission. Funding is entirely private, mainly from an elderly disabled American.

Given the problem that invasive kudzu has become in the USA, maybe someone should try manufacturing these things here too. 

 
 
Nature Bag Review on Parent Wise: Austin.com
http://www.parentwiseaustin.com/Cool-Or-Crummy/Nature-Bag
 
1/01/2011 - Compactable, stretchable, durable and perfect for a trip to the Farmer’s Market, the Nature Bag really is all-things-to-all-people. That’s because, while it carts around groceries or beach supplies for us, it also helps support poverty-stricken communities in Southeast Asia. The company says each Nature Bag is “handmade at home by one of Asia's poorest ethnic groups. 

Purchasing a Nature Bag is a huge, efficient, sensitive and permanent step towards poverty reduction.” While the bag is nice, and certainly funds a fabulous cause, it comes at a price ― one that’s fairly hefty for what you get. Still, we want to encourage more companies to forge these kinds of partnerships so we’re rating this bag “cool”.
 
 
 
Customer Complaint Handled Promptly by Nature Bag Volunteer!

12/20/10 - The following is an exchange from a customer and one of our sponsors concerning a problem with her bag:

Leila - I purchased a Nature Bag from Wandering the World on October 19, and liked it so much I immediately told all my friends about it. However, one of the handles soon began separating from the bag. I put it away for a few weeks, but decided that perhaps that was simply part of the "breaking in" process, and decided to try again and see if the breakage stopped.

I got it back out last week, examined the handles (one seems perfectly attached, the other had perhaps 1/3 of the strands still attached) and used it to carry a change of clothes to work. Imagine my surprise to pick it up in the evening and realize it was only attached by *one* strand on the failing handle. (I only carried clothing in it that day, no water bottle, no shoes, just a few pieces of clothing.)

I think I might have one of the rare, defective bags. For what it's worth, the *other* handle only seems to have lost a couple of strands. Can you please help me with this bag? I like it very much aside from the handle falling apart!


Volunteer - I am sorry to hear about the problem you have had with your Nature Bag.  I apologize for the inconvenience, but am happy that you like the bag.

Of course we will replace it for you at no cost.  The strap should not have separated even if you had carried a load of bricks in the bag!

We would like to handle this replacement in a way that is easiest for you.  Let me know the style/color of bag that you have and how best to reach you.  We can arrange to mail a replacement to you, to have you pick it up at Wander This World or deliver it to you personally.

If we can get you a new bag soon, it will be best.  This week would be my preference, but please, no later than next week as I begin a trip to Asia to work with the bag makers early on the 31st.


LeilaThank you very much. I did not anticipate such a prompt response.  I believe I have a jumbo Muang. I have attached a photo if that helps confirm the style. (I am at work and the document that came with the bag is at home, but I think it said Muang.)

I work in downtown Des Moines and imagine it is probably cheapest for you to deliver to Wander this World so am happy to pick up a replacement there if you tell me when to do so.

You can email me here or reach me by phone during the day.

Thank you again! 

 


New Nature Bag Pictures!

11/04/10 - Our new photos are the product of William R Nichols II, Owner & Photographer

Check out his website: www.conceptstudiosinc.com and become a Fan & Get Connected: www.facebook.com/conceptstudiosinc, www.linkedin.com/in/williamrnicholsii
 
 

Nature Bag Review 
by Katie Nielsen on September 20, 2010 in Green Products Reviews

http://www.modernecohomes.com/blog/

9/24/10 - You’d be hard-pressed to find a bag that’s more eco-friendly and sustainable than the Nature Bag. Highly minimalistic and biodegradable, Nature Bags are made from a plant called tropical kudzu, a type of trailing vine. Members of the Khmu tribe in Northern Laos (a landlocked country in Southeastern Asia) make the bags through the Lao Poverty Reduction Project. The project is essentially an economic foundation that helps link the tribe to the rest of the world and provides marketing for the tribe’s stunning, handmade creations. 
For thousands of years, the indigenous Lao people have used similar bags to gather essentials like food and fibers for clothing and shelter. The bags had to be durable and keep their gatherings secure as they traversed through deep forests and down steep mountainsides. Today, the Nature Bags invoke the very same qualities and are just as hardwearing and resilient as those made by the Khmu ancestors.

Aside from the obvious and inherent eco-friendliness of the bag, there are a few other features I absolutely love. First, the bag is the perfect length. If a shoulder bag is too long, it annoyingly bumps against your leg as you walk – this bag hits just right on my hop. Plus, the bag is just as durable as its touted; though it looks fragile, I stuffed mine with heavy books and it has held up fantastically (I’ve only used it for a week but I expect it will handle future wear-and-tear just fine). And though I had reservations at first about the aesthetics of the bag, I was surprised to find the neutral color and subdued, minimal design matches virtually everything I wear.
Review Summary

Pros:
Made from 100% all-natural materials
Entirely handmade
Durable and long-lasting
Completely biodegradable
Perfect for your earth-loving friends and family members

Cons:
The bag doesn’t have a snap or closure at the top (I was worried items could potentially fall out when the bag was set down) though I suppose it wouldn’t be entirely natural if it did. 


Nature Bag 
By Green Living Tips

http://www.greenlivingtips.com/blogs/549/Nature-Bag.html

8/31/2010 - Looking for a reusable shopping bag? Take a look at Nature Bag.

Made in Laos, its design is based on thousands of years of use by the country's Khmu indigenous minority - who also make the bags.

The bags are made using wild growing tropical kudzu. Lightweight and deceptively fragile-looking, the bags are used by the Khmu to carry quite heavy loads, day after day. Many of the Khmu continue to live traditionally, but the money made from making these bags help to supplement what the forest provides them and provides additional opportunities for their children in terms of education.

One of the many styles and sizes of Nature Bags available.

From what I could discern from the Nature Bag site, the making of each bags involves hundreds of small knots, which also gives the bags rip-stop attributes.

When the bag does finally reach the end of its life - disposal is easy; just bury it or compost it; the bag will add nutrients to your soil.

Just something to note: according to the Nature Bag folks if you get the bag wet, it may shrink when it dries if left empty. The original size can be restored by filling the bag up with something weighty and leaving it to hang overnight.

This is a really interesting product with a nice story behind it. Nature Bag is not only an environmentally friendly reusable bag made from organically grown materials, it's great to know the project helps to support the Khmu people. Products with backgrounds such as this can also make for a great gift!
 

Testimonials

Here are some people who have expressed kind thoughts about the Nature Bag Khmu/Lao Poverty Reduction Project:

 

"Hi! The bags are great! They do exactly what I had hoped! Many thanks for your good works in promoting sustainability and independence." Peg - Vermont
 
"I really love them. I am giving them away for presents too... I wish they were a little cheaper but I know it is for a good cause... I plan on buying some of the bigger ones... love them!!" Anne -  New Jersey 
 
"I use it as a swim bag, and I've never found one better for the purpose." Diane - California 
 
"I used one of my Nature Bags last night to carry my supper in to work (I work nights) and it was great! It is surprising how the bag conforms to the body when slung over the shoulder and doesn't slip." Abe - New York
 
 "I have purchased one for myself and the other two are gifts for my family.  My sister lives in Rome, Italy and goes to the market every day, her bag is super useful and gorgeous to look at too.The work you are doing is wonderful and I tell everyone who compliments me on my bag where they too may get one.  All good wishes to all the Khmu Nature Bag makers!" Claiborne - Los Angeles 
 
"I love my three bags.  I use them mainly for groceries and library books and they are great. Perhaps someday the makers can create a style that is not quite so shallow:  17" x 17" would be nice.  I know that makes the bag less authentic but maybe the weavers could experiment.  Just a thought. Keep up the good work.  I have been to S.E. Asia and am happy to support a project which benefits the people." Alice - Minnesota
 
"The bags arrived today and are incredible! Thank you again for a great order!" Amy - http://www.acornecoboutique.ca
 
"That was quick!!  I went to the post office today and my Nature Bag had arrived. Delivery time in 3 days! I LOVE this bag!" Patrica -Costa Rica

"We LOVE the nature bag. As of now, there is no negative feedback to report. I will be ordering more in the future. many thanks to you."
Linda - NJ

"These look amazing....I cannot wait to order one!" Denise - Facebook Fanpage Comment

"I love your bags and glad to see a designer giving back! Thumbs up! Visit me on etsy.com/shop/designitgirl" Nicole - West Palm Beach, FL

"I just received my order today and i really loved the bags! 
I find them wonderful and very well made! 
I really apreciate and I want to thank you very much indeed!" Belene - Madrid
"I live in Eugene OR, these would go over great here! This is a moderately green city with several businesses that promote sustainability, recycling, and fair trade. Just a couple to get you going are Sequentila Biofuels (they have a retail store attached to their gas station) and Down to Earth which is a local retailer of products from around the world. Good luck! Thanks for doing what you do to make the world a better place!" Kim - Eugene, OR
 
"I LOVE the bags! I'll be showing them off to friends who may decide to get some for themselves." Sue - Alaska

"I am so pleased with my Nature Bags. Really beautiful pieces of art. I use them for my purse and grocery bags and always get compliments from people. Thank you to all the makers of these fantastic bags!" Tracy - Arizona

 

"Although we've only sold two at this point, many people have been moved by your story and I believe the Nature Bags will be a good seller over time. The people who have bought one have expressed the intent to buy again for gifts. I am so proud to offer these." Karen - Rose Hip Farm, Norman, OK

 


"This is my second order of Nature Bags. I purchased them for my wife and some of her close friends to give as gifts as well as share your organization's story. Happy to say they all loved them, were delighted with the styles, colors and especially the functionality. Many were surprised by how durable and sturdy. This is a terrific product - I always look for the opportunity to share this type of "commodity" when possible. Keep up the excellent work - who knows when my next order will be coming." Bill - Iowa

"I’ve used my first Nature Bag for more than a year. Now that I’ve received a new one, the old one is going into it’s second life: a bag for picking up litter along the street.” Tom D --St. Charles, MO

One of the fun things about my Nature Bags is when I use them at the market. The baggers are reluctant to fill them, fearing that they will break or rip. It gets comical when I have to say “just one more item” for about the 8th time, and everyone who’s watching is amazed that there’s always room for that one more item.” Helen – Montana

Most guys in the U.S. aren’t used to carrying a bag, except on campus. I wasn’t either until my girlfriend gave me a Nature Bag for my birthday. Now it’s a habit. The bag’s always with me, and more frequently than not, there’s something to put in it.” Ashton-- Olympia, Washington

My first Nature Bag was a medium size, and it always seemed big enough. When I ordered a replacement, I chose a large, and although I have come to like it, there’s been only once that it seemed like it could hold no more. And when I went to pick it up, I quickly realized that the weight was impossible to carry and I had to remove a couple of heavy things to make it work.” Gina –Tucson

You always need to be cautious when ordering something you’ve seen only in pictures. So although I liked what I saw pictured in the Nature Bag shop, caution limited me to buying only one. Following the instructions, I loaded it with more than I’d ever hope to carry so that it could prove itself to me. It did, and proved itself again each additional use. By the end of the second week I ordered another for myself and 4 for my daughters.” Lois—Basking Ridge, NJ

I search for a bag that would work gathering wild mushrooms. You want a bag that lets the spores fall onto the ground so that there will be more mushrooms next year. In my search for mushroom bag, up popped Nature Bag. It seemed to be exactly right, and I ordered one. Now that the mushroom season is over I’m finding the bag great for pulling and removing weeds in the garden.” Joel—Madison, WI

I let my wife use my Nature Bag last week while she was shopping some boutiques in L.A. Her entry into one brought virtually instant comment from the shopkeeper, who insisted on getting supplier information. My wife was amazed. “ Jason – Santa Monica

Nature Bag gave me a Noy style when I began working on one of its videos. I began using it as a daily work bag, to carry things between home and the office. And I used it when going to the market. Because I bicycle frequently and hate the damp spot on my shirt where a backpack keeps the perspiration from evaporating, my bag seemed to be a possible solution because air can circulate through it easily. But would it fall off from all of the moving you need to do riding in heavy traffic? On a particularly hot and sweaty day I gave it a try. It worked well, both staying in place and keeping perspiration build up to a minimum. “ Sean – L.A. Marina area

I love to use a Nature Bag in the garden. It can carry my tools, seeds, fertilizer. But it works best gathering the harvest: beans, peas, radishes, carrots, onions, squash, lettuce, everything. It’s better than anything else harvesting ripe tomatoes because you can load a lot of them, minimizing their contact and pressure with each other so that they are not damaged. Because gathering was the first use of the bag thousands of years ago, I guess I should not be surprised. “ Beth – Iowa City

It’s strawberry season in Norway and we gather thousands from our garden to make delicious jam that lasts all year. I put the Nature Bag down so that it is as open as possible and quickly toss berries into it. When it is time to move to another position, lifting the bag settles all of the picked berries into the lower portions of the bag, and it is ready to be placed with the top open again to receive the next area’s harvest.” Thor – Oslo

I have used heavy canvass grocery bags to carry tools and supplies on handyman projects for more than 15 years. I decided to see how my Nature Bag would work instead. Well, there are a few disadvantages, the most important being that very tiny screws and other fasteners can slip through. But there are many advantages, the most important being almost unlimited capacity and the characteristic of holding things inside so they are not as likely to slip out.” Ted – San Jose, Costa Rica

I collect coins. The 10 very small Nature Bags I use to store some of the larger assortments are very convenient. “ Jim – Toronto

My kids love using their Nature Bags to carry their books, lunch and supplies to school.” Nui – Jomtien, Thailand

We have a communal hands washing area just outside the kitchen and have used a Nature Bag for many years to store the various varieties of soap that are used there. It dries quickly in the bag, doesn’t stick to the sides and is convenient to pick the soap you want to use Khankeo.” –Muang Beng District Laos

It’s amusing to see some of the huge bags guys use to carry their clothing and equipment to the gym. My extra large Nature Bag will hold at least as much, and its fabric allows air to circulate around the sweaty garments to keep things fresher. Surprisingly there’s less obnoxious gym-like odor both inside and outside the bag!” Hans –Milwaukee

I’ve found that using a Nature Bag to hold emergency supplies in my car trunk virtually eliminates the rust that can form on metal parts as a result of condensate moisture. And it will last forever.” Sid – Minneapolis

It’s great for an overnight bag. I use it for that several times a month. And my kids use it when they go to sleepovers.” Jena –Las Vegas

I’ve tried lots of approaches to stowing my make up supplies, but none works better than my Nature Bag.” Lisa – Cincinatti

To stand out from the crowd and proclaim my Eco-friendly conscience, nothing has proved more dramatic and useful than wearing my Nature Bag.” Joshua – Manhattan

"A lovely, humanitarian buy and perfect holiday gift for your stylish and earth-loving friends and family members." - Café Mom

"It’s handmade with heart and has humanitarian goals. The Nature Bag, a multipurpose bag once known only to a small group of people in the higher elevations of Southeast Asia, is now available all over the world." – Home Zone by Maggie Reed http://www.Creators.Com

"Wow, those are really cool." – posted comment by table4six on Café Mom

"If you’re committed to going green – all the way- log on to http://www.naturebag.org to find out more information about Ocean Splash’s Bloody Good Stuff item of the week." — http://oceanstylemagazine.com

"These bags truly are awesome! I have several of my own and use them for everything from holding my daughters toys and costumes, to grocery shopping, to heading to and from the pool with our wet gear!" – posted comment by Heather on Café Mom

"Nature Bags are stretchable and expandable, lightweight yet strong, but they are not your generic bags. These totes have an appearance that is somewhat shiny, like silk or satin, and have colors that range from a very light tan to medium-dark brown." – The Houston Chronicle

"Are you looking for a quality reusable shopping bag? When you select a Nature Bag, you are choosing a unique product that will do much more than just help you reduce the consumption and production of disposable bags." – mgwhite at http://www.hubpages.com

"I have a few of these and they are nice – durable, flexible, strong. They are also easier to ball up and stuff into a backpack or purse than other reusable grocery bags sold by grocery stores. I use mine weekly for food purchases – no disposable bags!!" – posted comment by Rudd on Café Mom

"This sweet, sweet bag is so amazing. Made in Laos, the design has evolved over decades and has been perfected to ensure that a day’s harvest can be safely carried. It expands to hold way more than you think, way more than you can possibly imagine." — http://www.gottheknack.blogspot.com

"I’ve been amazed at how much I can actually fit into them. They stretch, but things don’t move and jumble around in them. I literally filled mine up the other day with 28 cans of soda, hung it up in the garage and took it to a party a few days later. Not only is it big enough to fill that full, and strong enough to hold that load for days, but after I removed all the cans it went back to it’s normal shape." – posted comment by ReinaDeRigo on Café Mom.

"Any smart economista worth her salt knows that when frequenting the grocery store, the proper response to the “paper or plastic” checkout question is “neither.” If you’re already making strides to go green – go all of the way! Many are trading in their store-bought reusable grocery bags for timely totes that make a difference. Allow your dollars to go a long way by investing in Nature Bags." — http://www.oceanstylemagazine.com

"My wife and I have been trying to be very “carbon footprint conscious” in the last year or so. A friend of hers came over a few months ago and brought all of her food items in one of these bags. My wife just raved over it because it’s so “pretty”, but we were SHOCKED to find out that “pretty” isn’t it’s only quality. We never expected it to be such a sturdy and expandable bag." – posted comment by Mike on Cafe Mom

"These bags are wonderful! The best part is you can fold them up to fit in your pocket and pull them out when you need them." – posted comment by Alan on Café Mom

"I like keeping everything local on Homegrown, so I was happy to find a great local connection to a green product that helps keep a group of people in southeast Asia out of poverty. It’s also great to hear about a use for kudzu, which is an invasive vine in the United States, especially in the south. I wonder if it’s viewed the same way in Asia." — Cindy Hadish http://www.gazetteonline.com .

"The walls have considerable stretch and form around the items inside, so fragile items, such as fruits and vegetables, are less likely to be bruised. The unique mesh design of the bag also permits airflow. – Home Zone by Maggie Reed www.Creators.Com
I think the best thing about these bags is how I feel when I’m using them. Not only are they good for the environment by being reusable, I know I’m helping to reduce poverty in a part of the world that desperately needs help."
– posted comment by Heather on Café Mom

"For thousands of years, these bags have only been made in the homes of the Khmu ethnic group of Laos, a landlocked country in Southeast Asia with one of the lowest per capita income levels in the world. Aimed at reducing poverty in this region, the Nature Bag is the brainchild of Bounsou Keoamphone, a student and son of a poor rice farmer in the remote, mountainous Oudomxai Province in northern Laos. The startup funds came from a retired Iowa philanthropist." – Home Zone by Maggie Reed http://www.Creators.Com

"By placing the bags online, …the primitive Khmu (are linked) with the modern world. This poverty reduction project is designed to strengthen these links, giving the traditional a means to progress technologically and economically while preserving the ancient ways of the Khmu." – Houston Chronicle

"Buying handmade goods like Nature Bags from countries or communities where the income is enough to prop up their whole economy makes a huge difference." – posted comment by Rudd on Café Mom

"Wild-growing, organic tropical Kudzu (now called JungleVine®)is used to make the Nature Bag fabric. It is a naturally growing, hearty perennial vine with a deep spreading root that grows quickly during the rainy season and can be found in various parts and higher elevations in Southeast Asia. JungleVine® cord is lightweight but nearly impossible to break, is biodegradable and virtually mold resistant. This is the first significant commercial use and production of both product and fabric and it continues thousands of years of sustainability." — http://www.iammodern.com

"I’m DONE buying the $1 canvas bags that just break! Not to mention that it makes me feel so good to know that my money is going to people who need it." – posted comment by ReinaDeRigo on Café Mom .

"My wife likes the bag!  Pass my best regards to Bill N., please!"  - Bill

"A tradition that stretches thousands of years back into the history of Southeast Asia, women in the Khmu ethnic group of Laos craft each bag by hand. Made out of Kudzu, (a perennial vine with a deep spreading root that grows quickly during the rainy season), now Nature Bags not only display the talent of a self -sustaining culture, but are also being sold to consumers worldwide." – http://www.oceanstylemagazine.com

"I was surprised my wife with 3 of her own for her birthday and we’ve been using them consistently ever since. I’d like to say we’ll buy more when these ones wear out, but I now see that it’s not likely that they’re going to wear out! We plan on getting more for family and friends this Christmas." – posted comment by Mike on Café Mom

"The bags are also ultra-durable. With the ability to carry everything from books and gym supplies to groceries, the Nature Bag is lightweight and stretchable, while remaining strong." — http://www.oceanstylemagazine.com

"They are probably the most durable bags I’ve ever seen, which is completely contrary to what they look. They look so fragile with their dainty looking weaved design, but they are SO strong and expandable." – posted comment by Heather on Café Mom

"This is not your mother’s generic mesh-like bag…. Because each Nature Bag is handmade at homes of the Khmu tribe members and not in a factory, no two bags are identical." — http://www.oceanstylemagazine.com

"I own 4 bags, all different sizes, shapes and colors, but it sounds like they’re all unique. If you haven’t seen the video of people who make these, it’s worth a minute. I found it on their website http://www.naturebag.org"

"And I know it’s on YouTube too. Just Type in Nature Bag 2010!" – posted comment by ReinaDeRigo on Café Mom

"Nature Bags are a perfect choice for grocery shopping and other household needs. They are easy to store because they do not take up much space. However, because they are expandable and strong, they can hold many items, including those that are bulky or heavy." — mgwhite at http://www.hubpages.com

"I have one of these bags myself and I did not think much of it when I saw it the first time, because it is not exactly glamorous, but I have found out that it is very handy for carrying all sorts of things from heavy grocery store cans to books for a lecture. It is both flexible and surprisingly strong, so the mountain people of Laos really show us a small artifact of genuine biological insight here, I think." – posted comment by Tormod Hauge on Café Mom

"The fabric is also stretchy, allowing the walls of the bags adjust themselves around the shapes of stored items, offering additional protection for your goods while they are being transported. Nature Bags are also an attractive choice. The bags have a shiny appearance and are available in several earth tone shades. Because the bags are handmade rather than being manufactured using mass-production techniques." — mgwhite at http://www.hubpages.com

"I saw a spot on these bags on CNNs web sight and thought I’d do a little more research. They’re very intriguing and from the looks of all the positive feedback I’ve been seeing I might need to try some out for myself…." — posted comment by Mission Green on Café Mom

"The Khumu people have made these types bags for centuries, and are now able to use their skills to reach out to the modern world and reduce poverty in their region by making Nature Bags available for sale. Consumers around the world now have an opportunity to benefit from the quality of the work and craftsmanship of the Khumu people and to provide poverty reduction assistance to an area that so badly needs it." — mgwhite at http://www.hubpages.com

"The JungleVine® cord used to make the bag, “purifies our air, removing earth-damaging carbon and creating oxygen to breathe….” 

"What an extraordinary gift to both give and receive! Get yours now!" 

Anousith Phonethasith, a young artist from a small village in the Muang Ngoi District who was kind enough to link us on his page: http://www.yensabaiart.com


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