Q&A.; Eco-Friendly Field Bags?


Q. "I was wondering if you could direct me to an eco-friendly, not very expensive field bag. I'm currently working on putting together a jr. naturalists program at the [Botanical] Garden so I'm putting together the materials list and I'd like to use green products wherever possible." Thanks, GennadyiA. Gennadyi, if you mean a smallish bag that one might stow a couple of naturalists field guides then there are heaps to chose from. Should you mean the larger form that one carried samples around in. Almost like a briefcase, then there exist many of those too. And 'inexpensive' is somewhat like beauty - it's all in the eye of the beholder. But let's see what we can do.

Have settled on a few of the smaller style hemp field bags, given that hemp is a great example of how botanicals can work as well, if not better, than petrochemicals in many applications. Especially as hemp can fix nitrogen and bind soil, two attributes sorely needed right now.

Anyhow, my outright favourite for these would have to be Terrapax, whom we mentioned a couple of years ago. They embraced the concept of 'industrial ecology' more than a decade past. "It isn't a particularly beautiful term, but it has a poetry all its own. It means crafting industry to work like an ecological system - completely in balance, with no waste and total accountability. It means eliminating the hidden costs that toxins and chemicals impart to our air and water. It means doing it right the first time, where all waste must be food for other industry, or for microorganisms. Simply put: no garbage."

For their field bag this means an undyed hemp shell, webbing from hemp's cousin flax (more commonly known as linen). Leather reinforcing is vegetable and bark tanned, instead of the usual chrome and heavy metals. The closure is a stag horn (antlers are shed naturally each season by the animals themselves.) And the hardware is solid brass, free of electroplating. In many years time, should the field bag finally wear out, simply cut off the brass fittings and sent them back to Terrapax for a 20% discount on your next bag, while safely composting your old one. As they say, "no garbage." The seams are triple stitched and the very well detailed. Even their factory trimmings from cutting the hemp are sent off to make paper. It's a shame Terrapax haven't had much exposure of late, as their attitude is very holistic and thorough. Alas all this attention to detail does come at a price. The Field Bag is $88 USD when bought via the web.

For something at the lower end of the price spectrum try Artisan Gear. Also in hemp, their Field Bag is available in three colours for $25 USD. It is a good deal smaller however: 108 cubic inch in volume, compared to capacious 456 cu in for the Terrapax. And less detailed, thus thus cheaper, which might suit your needs better. As we hinted in an earlier post Artisan have sent high standards for their production too. Having been around since 1989, their manufacturing is US based, with programs to reduce waste, and to also donate 3% of profits to environmental and social causes.

For something in the mid range try the Chunky Bag in 4 colours from The Hemp Store in the UK. £21 These seem to be made in Nepal. under a 'Trade not Aid' initiative. But then again it also possible that they are sourced from Pure Sativa, which might be a bit of misleading name as at least some of the products appear to of hemp/cotton blend. But snazzy looking bags never-the-less. We first noted them here.

Hope this helps a little.