More recently, studies have shown that manufacturing and disposal of plastic also has a tremendous carbon footprint and contributes largely the increasing pace of climate change. Climate change, as we all know, is real and happening as we speak. With record-breaking temperatures in Kuwait and British Columbia, to storms that wreaked havoc in Mozambique, to finally our glaciers melting at such a speed, that if nothing is done to curb climate change, it’s just a matter of years till there’s no turning back.
However, the momentum is shifting to alternatives like renewables and non-plastic alternatives. In the context of our individual lives, we constantly highlight that we all make mistakes and there’s always a way to turn things around. But collectively, our population finds it difficult to agree to that.
We need to come together, realize that we all collectively made mistakes in the past and decide a course of action moving forward. Using nature the way it should be used (rather than exploitation), appreciating our surroundings, cleaning our beaches whether it’s your trash or not, and conducting business for the betterment of our societies and future generations are essential.
This is why, every week, it is essential for us to highlight a positive initiative that is contributing to the battle against plastic pollution and climate change.
The reasoning behind this is simple; to motivate us to do better, to highlight alternatives out there for us to resort to, to be aware that there are others who battling just like you are, and to support those businesses in order to shift economies to green economies!
Our post this week features an interview with TheBag.Ca to learn about their motivations, goals and how we can also contribute to their, and our own success while bettering our planet and societies.
Tell us about yourself
I am born and raised in Vancouver, I attended BCIT, and graduated with a Bachelor in Business Administration and then I took a graduate certificate in sustainable business leadership. My hobbies are snowboarding, hiking, yoga and tennis. My wife and I love to travel and spend time in the outdoors.
What motivated you to get into wanting to help protect our environment and make a change?
Travelling to different countries and continents there was a common theme of plastic pollution across the globe, these beautiful places all had plastic trash strewn across the beaches, and in the waterways. It was just devastating to me the environmental effects from plastic pollution and that nowhere is immune from it. Also when I was kid growing up in Port Moody, we used to stop and watch the salmon go up Noons Creek, the rushing river and the spectacular site of the salmon battling their way up the waterways I was just in awe. As housing development spread up the heritage mountain, the salmon slowly stopped coming and I thought it was such a great shame in my teenager years.
It really resonated with me in those few short years what destruction mankind had on our ecosystems. We need to do better in protecting this earth, we are at a tipping point and we need to come together to work on solutions to what is going on.
Why did you decide to start The Bag.Ca?
Two things made me start thebag.ca. First, I noticed a theme over the years that I had mountains and mountains of plastic bags under my sink (I would take them to the local grocery market to recycle them) and then the next month the same mountain of bags would appear. Secondly when travelling to places like San Andres Island Colombia where these beautiful beaches should be pristine, yet they have plastic bags and plastic waste washing up onto the shores, it is really just so sad. So I decided how can we make a difference and I decided to make a chic reusable bag that also represented your hood.
What is The Bag.Ca in one sentence?
Giving consumers an option to “rethink plastic.”
There are other competitors out there, I’m sure, what differentiates you from the others?
Our company is very customer centric, I try and get our products into our customers hands right away, we ship out in 24 hrs and if it is a local order I will personally deliver it and hopefully get to meet the client. We also try and use local companies for all our business needs and to use eco friendly products, all our boxes have been recycled so we don’t create more waste.
My takeaway – in order for us to change our economies, purchasing habits while raising awareness of the global issues we are facing, we must tailor everything we do around convenience. It is because of convenience that we are too lazy to act upon issues we face, but businesses like TheBag.Ca shape themselves to make it as convenient as possible for customers to change their habits for the environment.
I’m sure your journey is quite exciting until now, what and when was the AHA moment for you?
My aha moment was last week when we got an order from Switzerland, I thought how awesome people all over the world want options to get away from single use plastic.
Would you mind highlighting the The Bag journey for us?
We started thebag.ca in August 2018, with two market bags the Gastown and Yaletown and now we have 11 neighbourhood bags. We recently added Tofino and Kelowna. We also have the minis that make the perfect lunch bag or for that quick shop.
What is included in The Bag product line?
We have 11 large neighbourhood bags, 5 mini market bags, and a just last week launched the Black Vancouver Large Market Bag.
What does The Bag hope to contribute to?
Changing peoples habits on single use plastic bags, and we donate a proceed of sales to shoreline clean up (we really like what The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup is doing)
The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup is a national conservation program that provides Canadians the opportunity to take action in their communities wherever water meets land, one bit of trash at a time.The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup
How do you source the materials for the products?
Our mission is to be the go to bag for all your shopping needs. We want to be the replacement for that single use plastic shopping bag. Our company goal is to be the disrupter for plastic bags.
Our products are made from natural fiber so it is faster to break down and returns to the earth compared to the plastic bag that can takes hundreds of years.
What are the future goals for The Bag, moving forward? Vision and Roadmap?
We have some new products coming out of this summer, and we are looking to add a few new cities to our lineup. We have some cool ideas for the future so please follow us on Instagram to see our journey and the cool stuff we have planned.
What obstacles have you encountered in your journey?
Running a small business has it wins and challenges, but everyday it brings great new experiences that I absolutely love, I love meeting the clients and thinking of efficiencies for our company. I get to look use what I learned in my sustainability program by keep our emissions and waste streams down.
I am a life long learner and running a company you learn new things everyday.
What has been your proudest moment during your journey?
When people tag us in the grocery store using our bags instead of plastic or when clients send us an update on the fight against single use plastic. People are motivated and see the end of our single use consumer society and people want change.
Another takeaway – Let’s make changes by not using the plastic bags for fruits and veggies as well. The less the plastic bags we use collectively, businesses realize that it is not worth investing in plastic bags for consumers because of additional costs. To make a change, we must understand who we are targeting and how the change we are proposing to be made, helps them too
What does sustainability and zero-waste mean to you?
Zero waste to me means so many things, but mainly to conserve our resources, buy quality products that last, share, reuse or refurbish products before recycling them. And don’t waste our precious resources, they are finite.
If you were to give people an idea of how to make changes in their lives, in terms of living a low-waste lifestyle and low emissions, what are three things you’d advice?
Start simple/ easy changes like
- Bring that reusable water bottle, seek out the water fountain (we really need to shift back to the water fountain mindset.)
- Dry your clothes on a rack (and they will also last longer and won’t look worn.)
- Walk or ride that bike to do errands.
I know it sounds like a cliché but start simple and build on that
For sustainability entrepreneurs like yourself, what three tips/advice do you have?
Have a look at the lifecycle of your product/service and analyze your waste streams and look for efficiencies in your day to day operations. The sustainability movement is growing stronger daily, people are shifting to sustainable options. People want change so offer it to them.
Running a business is not just about profit, but giving back to the community, I would recommend having a social aspect to your sustainable enterprise (either in giving your time or making a donation, it is a positive in so many ways for your organization.)