Nature Bag News and Articles
Traveling in Laos, getting to know villagers
Wonderful pictures of Real Life in remote Lao villages, including pictures of the area where our JungleVine® Foundation Laos General Manager has businesses. Very appealing pictures which give intimate glimpses into daily village life of some of our Nature Bag artisan crafters. Theirs is not an easy life, by any means, but it is simple and rewarding. Come take a peek.
Nature Bag Review on Treehugger
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 the 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
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.
Leila - Thank 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
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 hip. 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.
Made from 100% all-natural materials
Durable and long-lasting
Perfect for your earth-loving friends and family members
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.
By Green Living Tips
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.
From what I could discern from the Nature Bag site, the making of each bag 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!
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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 website 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
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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