My Last Bag - Reusable Bulk food & Produce Bags
Bulk food shopping is one of my absolute favourite ways to reduce the amount of plastic I use in my everyday life. Between my local bulk food store, my local fruit and veggie store and our farmers market - there isn’t much plastic ending up in our bin, which I love! When I first started bulk food shopping, I simply used the paper bags that were provided, feeling great about using less plastic but not thinking much about the fact that I was using single use paper too. I had no idea at the time that often producing paper used far more water than producing plastic and in terms of energy and resources to produce, both were ultimately unsustainable. In the past, I have also made some of my own fabric bags for bulk food shopping, using cotton, however I have always found them not great for flour or finer grains.. due to the nature of the open weave cotton.. enter “My Last Bag”, a bag designed for sustainability and reuse. They even have a label that can be written on with pencil (that comes with them) so you know what is what when you get home - I so love this!
Business owner Saba set out to make a reusable bag which was washable and could be used again and again and again. What I love even more than these bags, are the vegetable produce bags - the whole concept blows my mind. Okay, so they’re designed to reduce food waste. You simply rinse the bag in cool waste, ring it out so it’s damp but not dripping, put your veggies inside and then pop it in the fridge. The coolness and the dampness, with the breathable fabric, all work together to make the veggies inside actually last longer. I’m a little bit guilty of ordering pizza and ignoring our meal plan, so making produce last longer in the fridge is such an awesome thing in our household! I use my produce bags just as produce bags too - they are great for mushrooms or tomatoes at the markets and then when I get home, I dampen them and use them in the fridge as well.
I had the pleasure of spending the day with lovely Saba and learning more about her beautiful business and background. Read on to find out how she started, why and more about the sustainable practices and values behind the “My Last Bag” brand.
What are your brand values?
Reusable - As sustainable as possible. (I guess what I mean by this is that I normally wouldn't choose to use cotton in a product as cotton is not sustainable fabric, but I'm now in the process of developing a product where the fabric needs to be a soft fleece, the only way of achieving this is to have a cotton/hemp mix. So I feel if the material really serves a purpose it's ok to use it. - Same goes for my 0.02 mm plastic lining on the bulk food bags. One bag is estimated to save 300 paper bags in its life time, so I feel in this case using the plastic is ok).
- Shop local & support small business
- Community mindedness
- Making a waste free lifestyle easy and achievable for your day to day person
- Nobody is perfect, but if we all do a little we can make a big difference
How/why did you start your business?
I became annoyed at bulk food shopping. I loved the concept, but saw it advertised as zero waste shopping, yet would come home with many paper bags to throw out. At the time my youngest child was only 4 month old and my other one only 4. Bringing 5 or 6 glass jars to the bulk food store was not an option for me with one child on my hip and the other holding my hand.
I started researching the impact of throwing these paper bags out and found to my shock that it wasn't much better than standard plastic packaging. Paper uses 20 x as much water to produce as plastic, 4 x the amount of energy and takes up 7 x more space in landfill when they do end up there. It takes 1 truck to transport 2 million plastic bags versus 7 trucks to transport 2 million paper bags. And I haven't even mentioned deforestation. More to my surprise I also found that it takes more energy to recycle paper than it takes to recycle plastic. So after my research I discovered that this bulk food shopping wasn't so zero waste or eco friendly what so ever.
I could not find a solution on the current market though. Most of the produce bags were some type of mesh not able to hold small seeds or nuts. Simply using a fabric bag didn't really work for flours or nutmeals, and then how was I going to see what was in it or/and not be a complete annoyance at checkout.
So I decided to make one that covered all aspects of what a bulk food bag needs.
This slowly also developed into making some other Reusable products like the Veggie bag and now the straws.
When did you start your business, and do you operate full time/part time?
Very much part time as I have the two little ones and a husband who works full time. However, I'd love more time! I started working on and developing My Last Bag in May 2017, but didn't land a product till December 2018.
How do you incorporate sustainability into your business?
- Everything I make is reusable with it's function being to reduce waste
- I use the most sustainable materials possible for the product - hence most my fabric is Hemp
- We live 100% off grid, our power is from the sun and our water from the rain - a lot of my work is done from home off grid
- My Last Bag aims to encourage normal people to reduce their waste by offering easy to use products
How do you package orders?
- The bags are packaged in a 100% recycled paper sleeve printed with soy based inks. The packaging is more so for our stores as many of them require barcodes. We are happy to send out bags with no packaging if requested to our retail customers
- Retail orders are sent in compostable courier bags
- Wholesale orders are sent in either second hand boxes or recycled boxes pending the size of the order and all taped closed with Kraft paper tape
How do you incorporate sustainability into your own life/day to day?
- By living 100% off grid
- I try and shop local
- Most veggies are from the farmers market
- I always shop in bulk
- I bring my own bags to market, shop, bulk food store
- At the market I bring my own containers for berries, olives and return glass jars to the dip people so they can reuse them
- I try and buy mainly slow fashion from my friends when it comes to clothes, I am lucky to have many friends that have fashion labels
- No packaged foods in my kids lunch boxes
- I DO NOT beat myself up when I forget my water bottle and have a thirsty toddle in the car and buy a bottle of water. None of us our perfect. I simply try to remember to bring my water bottle the next day.
- I use natural cleaning products or make my own and use soap berries for the laundry
- Have made the switch to soap bars and shampoo bars
What is your background?
- I was born in Amsterdam, Holland. Then spent a great part of my adult life travelling and moving around a lot until I landed in Australia when I was 28 years old. I had a fashion label where I produced in Bali and sold in Australia, Europe and the USA for nearly 10 years and then switched to being a Kinesiologist for a few years after two years of study in Melbourne. Kinesiology brought me more in touch with the health food industry and environmental awareness. I stopped practicing when I had my first child and have been very busy being a mum since then! We were on the road for two years between Australia, India, Sri Lanka, Bali and Holland with my first born. I feel the combination of Fashion Design and Kinesiology has brought me to where I am now as the creator of Reusable products, My Last Bag