Why are JungleVine® Products Net Zero?
JungleVine® Products are handmade by Khmu artisans using fiber from a fast-growing vine. Artisans work in their homes and villages, not factories, so they do not commute to work somewhere away from home.
The vine they use, (Pueraria phaseoloides) is a member of the pea family (Fabaceae), and so it fixes nitrogen from the air into the soil. It actually improves the soil where it grows, and can heal the soil on construction-damaged sites. Like all plants, it purifies the air, converting carbon dioxide into oxygen. JungleVine® can be used as a graze or forage for livestock, it propagates readily, and once established, it requires little to no human intervention to flourish. It grows without cultivation, irrigation, or chemicals. It even has some medicinal qualities.
Most important is the fact that the vine supplies the base material for Khmu artisans to create not only a carbon-neutral product, but a carbon-negative one. This makes JungleVine® both profitable for the artisans who use it, and beneficial to the planet at large.
When the artisans harvest the vine stems for fiber, they do not consume the entire plant, so the crown and remaining stems regrow rapidly, making it a sustainable and self-regenerating resource.
The fiber is remarkably strong and durable, so JungleVine® Bags last a long, long time and can be reused for many years, perhaps even decades. At the end of their long lifespan, all JungleVine® Products are biodegradable and can be composted, where soil organisms and earthworms break down the vine fiber and make the elements of the plant material available for re-use by new plants.
How does the JungleVine Foundation’s Nature Bag Project Strive to be Net Zero?
While working to promote the Khmu artisans’ handmade products, we focus on keeping the carbon footprint of all JungleVine® products as close to zero as we can. Every step of bringing these handmade products from remote artisan villages to buyers all over the world is done with attention to the carbon footprint we create.
Transportation and Fossil Fuels
Each JungleVine® bag weighs less than 70 grams (2.5 oz.), which is an invaluable part of their light consumption of transportation and fossil fuel resources.
No fossil fuel is used until our project transports the finished bags from the acquisition centers to our global headquarters in Luang Prabang. We virtually always use public transportation for the bags within Laos; on passenger busses, bundles of bags are tied on top of the bus or stowed in the luggage hold.
Most rural Khmu have nothing that consumes electricity, and if they do, electricity in northern Laos comes entirely from water and solar sources.
Of our warehousing sites, only one, in Iowa USA, requires small amounts of electricity for the occasional use of energy-efficient lighting. The space, insulated by earth on all sides, does not require heating or cooling. In Iowa, more than 37% of our electricity comes from wind power, thus even the small amount of electricity we use there is the greenest in the U.S.
Packaging, Shipping and Waste
Most of the containers we use to ship to buyers are extremely lightweight and biodegradable or recycled. Product inserts are on thin small-sized paper.
From beginning to end, our project creates very little waste. The trash can in our Iowa warehouse, for example, is a tiny 7-gallon waste bin that only needs to be emptied once every six to eight months.
Staff and Volunteer Activities
All of us involved in the Nature Bag Project are frugal with all resources.
Definition of Net Zero
According to the United States Forest Service, Net Zero is a goal to reach the point where our business operations are in balance with our environment. (Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNBsllXNcBQ)