Our Pahk style organic reusable eco-friendly bag stars this week at the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association's (GLAZA) Beastly Ball, its largest annual fund raising activity.
The Nature Bag Khmu/Lao Poverty Reduction Project has provided 700 of its sustainable homemade organic reusable bags at a discounted price to be used as gifts for GLAZA's most generous supporters at this Saturday’s (June 18) event.
The annual Beastly Ball is one of Los Angeles's most popular and consistently sold out fundraisers. Last year it raised more than $1.2 million. Saturday’s will be the 41st annual Beastly Ball.
“Our stretchable reusable bag is a perfect match for this year’s gala fundraiser because the Los Angeles Zoo recently opened its most elaborate exhibit, a $42 million project centered on the Asian elephant,” said Bill Newbrough, co-founder and principal economic sponsor of the Nature Bag poverty reduction project.
Laos, Nature Bag’s home, has called itself the Land of a Million Elephants. Although fewer than 10,000 remain today, according to Newbrough, the animal is revered by Laotian culture and vigilantly protected by Laotian law and people.
“When GLAZA approached us about participating, it was an easy decision to become involved,” Newbrough said. “Not only is the Los Angeles Zoo a good cause because of the joy it brings to its guests and its international leadership in protecting endangered species, but our marketing efforts will reap benefits by getting the Nature Bag into the hands of leaders in the L.A. community.”
The Nature Bag is made from Jungle Vine™ fabric, also known as tropical kudzu. The Khmu harvest the thin white ribbon inside the stems of the vine and use their hands and legs to spin it into cord that is amazingly strong. Jungle Vine™ fabric also is nutritious and can be eaten by elephants and most other animals.
The poverty reduction project is the first effort to market the bag, which has been used for thousands of years to gather the food, medicine and fiber from the forests needed for the culture’s subsistence.
“Laos is rapidly advancing, but many of our Khmu live as have thousands of generations of their ancestors in remote mountainside jungle without monetary income,” said project co-founder Bounsou Keoamphone from the ancient UNESCO World Heritage town of Luang Prabang, Laos, which serves as the headquarters for the Nature Bag Khmu/Lao Poverty Reduction Project.
“I have known about the Nature Bag since I was in elementary school because a few Khmu were my classmates, and they used it as a school/book bag. With the bag’s amazing characteristics and the world’s need for green living, I approached the Khmu about making the bag for sale.”
”While many Khmu want to maintain their traditional culture and lifestyle, they also want to take advantage of the communications, healthcare and transportation opportunities now within their reach and they need money to do that. So we became partners,” he said.
Because Jungle Vine™ fiber grows naturally and prolifically along the ground in northern Laos and the Khmu make the bags from their homes, there’s no agriculture, no manufacturing, no chemicals, no petroleum and no irrigation involved with the Nature Bag. Its light weight means it can be produced and shipped virtually anywhere with little consumption of anything other than human energy. If fact, said Newbrough, we believe our project likely has a negative carbon footprint because the vine’s growth cleans the air by removing large amounts of carbon from the atmosphere.
Vivian Ball Ramirez