by Nidhi and Manasi Sharma
We hear this word a lot lately in all kinds of contexts, so we wanted to take minute to describe how we see this very important pillar of our brand.
Broadly speaking, sustainability means meeting our own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It broadly strives to impact three key resources: social equity, economic sustainability, and environmental protection
When we started ShoreBags, we wanted to incorporate sustainability within these three facets to control and positively impact what we can.
Being so close to manufacturing in the supply chain, this is why we care about sustainability the most – our people. Because we own the factory overseas, we are lucky and responsible for our workers and their working conditions. We want to create careers for our workers -- careers they can live on and that will support their families for years. This includes men and women workers from local communities around our factory. The pandemic caused a huge disruption in our labor force, but we continued to only hire a legal workforce even if it meant slowing down production and order-due dates. This social sustainability model also extends to our vendors and supply chain partners – we only partner with ethical and tested companies that also believe in the same principles we do when it comes to manufacturing and treatment of workers.
We view this topic as a benchmark for whether what we are doing is working. Being a for-profit business, we ultimately want our business to be financially stable so we can continue to support our workers beyond industry standards. For our business, this means creating a top-quality product at the best possible price for our customers. Too often customers are used to buying a cheap tote bag made in India and China and assume that because labor is so cheap overseas, these prices are in line with what you are getting. But ultimately someone pays the price for that low-priced item – if it’s not the consumer or the manufacturer, it’s the worker who is getting the shortest end of the stick. Yes, ShoreBags are made off-shore, but they are made responsibly and ethically in our factory, where workers are paid beyond minimum wages and can advance within the factory to higher paying, more valuable roles. This comes with a price – more expensive tote bags! But we are lucky to have customers willing to pay the extra money to know that their purchase has a positive impact for someone real on the other side of the world.
This one is too broad for ShoreBags to take on as a solution, but it is one that takes intention to see impact. Ever since plastic bags made us cringe as kids (since we were always around tote bags), we viewed any choice other than plastic as a better choice. We are glad to see our customers feel the same way about using cheap but harmful alternates. Environmental protection is not an action item or task list, it is a movement and moral principle. Having a clear stance on it will hopefully drive the right consumer behavior through messaging and education. It is a well-known conclusion that it is better to use a plastic bag a hundred times than it is to use a tote bag the same amount – that is why we focus so highly on quality. Our goal is not just to avert your plastic bag use for weeks or months – it is to replace it for years and years on end. Our bags are durable and hold enough to replace at least a half a dozen plastic bags EACH trip to the store. This effect will add up in two ways – of course in the physical sense our customers will use less plastic, but over time this conscious behavior will spread and can lead to significantly lower plastic use as more people stir away from using single use plastics.
As an initiative to be as clean and green as possible, we are exploring organic cotton as a raw material source in the next few months. We feel that will further solidify our commitment and results in this space and lead to even more responsible and eco-friendly supply chain and product.
Stay tuned for updates to our line in this space ☺