It isn’t very often that we have an opportunity to make the world a better place with our purchasing decisions, but we have found 3 companies that are enabling us to do just that. In the spirit of our Boundless Core Value “Do the Right Thing” we are highlighting companies and products that give back to the community and the Earth.
In part 2 of 3 in our series “Promotions with a Purpose” we speak with Andy Keller, the creator of ChicoBag, a unique product line that is made from 100% recycled materials that is helping reduce waste by doing away with the single-use habit. The ChicoBag line delivers Brand Love in a unique and lasting way and is the perfect way to show that your brand cares about sustainability and the welfare of others.
In early 2004, I took a trip to the local landfill after spending the day landscaping my backyard. I was horrified by how many single-use bags filled the scene. Plastic bags blanketed the landscape, birds were pecking at them, and they were blowing around and jumping the fence like little monsters escaping the landfill.
On my way home, I started to notice plastic bags everywhere; caught in trees and on fence posts and blowing in the streets like urban tumbleweeds. It was then that I vowed to stop using single-use bags for good. The problem was that I knew I would forget my reusable bags at home or in the car. Being both inspired and recently unemployed, I dropped a few bucks on a secondhand sewing machine and began designing a reusable bag that I could keep in my pocket. I had no idea that what I had created would ultimately become the first ChicoBag brand reusable bag.
At ChicoBag, we’ve made it our mission to help humanity bag the single-use habit. We mean the wasteful, throw-away habit that overflows our landfills and clogs our oceans. We do this by advocating for waste reduction and designing the highest quality, longest lasting reusable bags that can be co-branded to help spread our message.
Our design ethic is “designed to be unforgettable” because most reusable bags are forgotten at home or in the car. Our customers tell us that they own dozens of reusable bags, but ChicoBag is the bag they actually use. They are designed to fit in a pocket or purse and they also have a carabiner that allows the bag to clip onto a keychain, a belt-loop or purse strap. The eye-catching design of the bags has a demonstrated track-record of creating conversations at the check-out – which along with a lifespan of 5+ years, makes ChicoBag an ideal product for branding. We want to enable companies that care about sustainability and reducing waste to further their beliefs through the products they purchase.
We created a product we were proud of, and over the last 11 years have tried to further our mission in several ways. We learned that environmental stewardship and social responsibility lowers business risk, brightens and fortifies a brand and typically results in cost savings and long term growth. With that in mind, here are some of the ideas we live by at ChicoBag to inspire you to take charge in making a difference in your own workplace:
Strive for Zero Waste: Strive to leave the planet better than you found it. When waste does not become food for another system; natural or otherwise, it becomes pollution. Commit to continually creating efficiencies that eliminate waste in all aspects of your business. This can be achieved by something as simple as switching to reusable bags or doing away with single-use plastic dishes and cutlery.
Consider Choosing Long-term Products for your Brand: Buying high quality, socially responsible products that last for years is a great way to further the green movement. These products have a higher upfront cost, but provide a lower cost per impression due to their durability and usefulness. Using products like the ChicoBag shows your company’s commitment to sustainability and the environment.
Design with the End in Mind: Closing the loop on our product lifecycle is called extended producer responsibility and is important to all of us. We have a take-back program for any reusable bags regardless of brand. Most of the bags we receive were made by other companies. If the bags are still useful, we donate them to fixed and low income families ready to start a reusable bag habit, or recycle them into new useful products through partnerships with artists, crafters and non-profit organizations.
Make People Laugh and Have Fun: We think the plastic bag is the poster child for unnecessary waste. To embody the plastic bags I saw at the landfill, I created a costume made of 500 plastic bags which is what the average American uses in 1 year. I call it the Bag Monster. We have close to 200 Bag Monster costumes roaming the planet, making people laugh and in turn, raising awareness regarding the negative impact of single-use plastic. We loan them out to anyone who shares in our mission to help humanity bag the single-use habit.
When purchasing branded merchandise, keep those practices in mind. The business world is changing as a growing number of companies realize that they can provide more benefit to society beyond simply increasing shareholder value at the expense of people and the planet. ChicoBag is part of a growing community of businesses committed to redefining our relationship with the planet by using business as a force for good to solve social and environmental problems. We strive to operate more in-line with the laws of nature.
The consumer marketplace is also changing with people looking to do business with companies that are part of the solution. With your purchasing decisions you can be a part of that solution. Even if your company is not ready to make big changes right away, you can take small steps to bring your activities more in-line with the laws of nature by striving for zero waste, thinking long term, designing with the end in mind and having fun along the way.
Did you catch part 1 in the “Promotions with a Purpose” series? Read it here!