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Cambodian Market Bags

By Jesse Kornbluth
Published: Mar 25, 2015
Category: Home

“Paper or plastic?”

There will come a time when that question will be as archaic as “Shall we take the flivver or the carriage?”

And for a simple reason: Plastic is killing us.

The plastic bag, as you may know, is the single most ubiquitous consumer item on Earth, numbering in the trillions. Some stats:

— Americans throw away 100 billion plastic bags a year. That’s like wasting 12 million barrels of oil.
— Only 2% of plastic bags are recycled in the United States.
— Fifty per cent of all marine litter is plastic.

And it’s not like putting plastic bags in landfills solves the problem. For one thing, they take as long as 1,000 years to degrade. For another, they blow away — and then those thousand years start in trees and fields and bodies of water.

The answer isn’t to get your groceries or small packages in paper bags. It’s to use an indestructible bag. This is why more and more groceries encourage you to bring your own bag — and, if you don’t, they charge you extra for their bags.

As long as you’re bringing a bag, why not one that’s beautiful, socially responsible — and good for more than carrying milk and bread?

Cambodian market bags start life in Vietnam, where they’re used to transport rice. When discarded, they’re brought to Cambodia, where they’re cleaned and sewn into market bags, with reinforced stitching at the edges. [To buy a Cambodian market bag from Amazon, click here.]

They hold a lot — we’re talking 18" wide x 12" high x 6" deep, with 21" handles.

They’re minor works of art — because they’re not from a single producer in Vietnam and are individually sewn in Cambodia, they’re genuinely one-of-a-kind.

They do good — 35 percent of Cambodia’s people live in poverty, and almost half of its national budget comes from international aid. These bags mean jobs and job skills and a step up the ladder to literacy and self-sufficiency.

They’re less expensive that LL Bean canvas boat bags. And just versatile — when we use them as beach bags, we rinse them out afterwards. Try that with canvas? I think not.

Final pitch: They’re chic. Someday bags like these will be the norm and we’ll see them as symbols of an all-connected, globally-conscious economy. For now, they’re not just practical, not just environmentally helpful, they’re fashion. And who doesn’t respond to fashion?