Sunday, January 03, 2010

New Bloom Milk box wallets

Check out Bloom's new recycled milk box wallets. Kamhut designed these a few months ago and they've been a hit! We buy the cartons from our resident rubbish collector and we pay him more per kg than what rice costs, so it's good money for him, and we get to do our part by recycling the boxes into practical wallets. Everything we do we try to follow the Bloom Motto: "Help the Poor, Help the Planet".  We're selling these original, handmade wallets for USD5. They are not laminated with plastic so don't get them soaking wet. 

Plastic is a problem. Some customers like our ricebags to be laminated because it makes them waterproof and last longer. But the plastic is not biodegradable because Cambodia does not make them. We can import, but I try not to because of the carbon footprint. I will see if we can find clean, used plastic as an option. I see websites saying the plastic they use are "Re-purposed", but I suspect that's a deceptive way of describing plastic that is new, just used for a different purpose (i.e., covering bags instead of books, for example).  I hate the double-speak. For instance, there are sites that say the ricebags are covered with "vinyl". Why not just say what it is: "plastic". It's not even correct to call it vinyl, since plastic known as vinyl is really PVC.

Anyway, there are customers who are very strict about using plastic. Amnesty, for instance, insisted on non-laminated bags when they ordered from us. But many customers think the plastic makes sense because if the bags last longer then they are less disposable, which is a good thing I guess since the whole point is to make things that are less disposable. What do you think? Please give me feedback ok? 

We have already made bags with fused plastic bags, thereby reusing the plastic bags we find all over Cambodia, so I'll try that with the ricebags. Plastic bags drive me crazy in this country, as well as customers (always, always, Asian, but also two Spanish women) who ask me for a plastic carrier to put their just-purchased recycled rice bag. These people are just so used to having plastic bags, they don't stop to think about it. For goodness sakes', you just bought a bag, you want a bag to bag your bag? We don't give out plastic bags in our shop - I am sorry but you just have to carry your bag out with you and if you bought our recycled accessories, wear them out. Come on, is it such a big deal? Or maybe I should start making recycled newspaper bags for you to bag your bag. But you know what's going to happen - you'll throw it away when you're packing your luggage for home.

One last point. This is the first time I have stamped our website on our product photos. There are no copyright laws in Cambodia, so I know our designs and ideas will be all over the country once it gets out. But that's ok. We just have to keep innovating and leading the way, that's all! 


dsowerg said...

Definitely plastic please, Diana. I need to know my bags will last (in fact they're starting to tear at the corners after intensive use). Otherwise I might as well just buy a disposable bag, which is not the point right?

But to ask for another bag for your bags... now that's quite funny actually. Maybe they want to bring it home as gifts? How about using reusable packaging e.g. furoshiki.

Diana Saw said...

Hi eve+line, thanks for the feedback! The one that frayed is the one without laminate - is that correct? Ok I will have to figure out what to do. If you look closely, you'll see the ricebags are woven, so can fray. Sealing the ends with double-stiched cloth may help. I'll also try the fused plastic bag on it and see what comes out. The thing I am trying to avoid is to consume more new plastic - my aim if to make our bags 100% recycled - and make them long-wearing.

Furoshiki - I'd never even heard of it! Love the idea!! Thanks so much!

A better material is actually recycled billboards - they're really tough and also tarp, like Frietag bags. Those guys are my heroes.

Diana Saw said...

Ps: A Finnish customer told me the plastic cracks in Finland , where it can get -25 degrees! It's something we in the tropics never even think about. So, it has to be different strokes for different folks! :)

frost said...

Here's a note from the Finnish customer. Yes, it really seems that there have to be different solutions for different people and uses.

I agree on using the plastic when it makes the product last longer, especially if recycled plastic is available. But then I also would love to have the possibility of getting bags without it, as the conditions up here in Finland can be quite severe.

My Bloom bag started cracking when the temperatures dropped. You could hear it breaking as you were carrying it. Since we've had a really cold winter this time with temperatures down to -25°C, I decided I have to stop using the bag and wait for summer.

I've been doing some interesting experiments on recycling - or upcycling - plastic myself (some of it you can see in my blog). It's nothing to benefit this discussion, but I hope you find a good solution with your dilemma with plastic, Diana. I'm sure you will!

Maybe your customers who wanted the plastic bag to bag the bag wanted to do the same I did with my old plastic bags...
...or maybe not.

All the best!
Oh, and I love the new wallet!

Diana Saw said...

More comments from my Facebook pals...:

Antigone Garner ooohhh i love them! specially the aussie pink one. is it poss to have one sent to me in thailand?
03 January at 14:42 ·

Hannah Padley Very cool, I might buy one of those before we leave....
03 January at 18:43 ·

Tracy Smith these are great! In resale - I hate to say the plastic might be wanted. I've had ink runs from bags (not yours) when storing them. Others will copy your designs but your quality and character will keep you ahead.
03 January at 19:25 ·

Mary Beker cool .Hope to see you in March,with ideas
03 January at 19:40 ·

Chin Siew Loh Great ideas. Keep innovating! Regarding the shelf life of bags, honestly I don't think most women use their bags for very long - at most a couple of years? The usual wear and tear will render bags unusable or not so pretty, so I don't think u need to worry about laminating the bags. Let your bags exhibit more raw energy :-)

Lee Siew Ling Don't worry too much abt the plastic, just as I'll buy shampoo from Bodyshop instead of the bargain stores in the neighbourhood, I'll buy a Bloom bag due to your cause! And for that, I'd like it without the plastic :)
03 January at 21:51 ·

Diana Saw thanks all for your feedback! love you all for taking what we do seriously. :)
04 January at 09:03 ·


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