And it's sewn by physically disabled artisans in Cambodia who are paid fairly for their work.
If you are looking for an indestructible gym, yoga, or travel bag, then you need to check out the Bodi Bag from Net Effects Traders. This bag is tough and resilient, made from repurposed industrial netting. It is stain- and water-resistant, and free from hazardous dyes and lead. It is also vegan.
As if those impressive environmental credentials aren't enough, Net Effects Traders has a solid commitment to social responsibility. Its bags are made by Cambodian artisans, women and men who are physically disabled and/or economically disadvantaged. Alice Farrow, the founder of Net Effects, explains:
"For over 10 years, our design and production partner has provided the disenfranchised, the hearing impaired and those disabled from polio or landmine explosions with the opportunity to become talented and accomplished artisans. They are building skills as well as well as self-confidence."
Net Effects already has a wide variety of bags made from repurposed netting; these range from wallets and clutches to messenger bags to totes and tablet cases. The Bodi Bag is its biggest bag to date, and is currently available for pre-order on Kickstarter, with estimated delivery in August 2018. I was fortunate to receive an advance model to test in person.
The Bodi is advertised as 3-in-1, with a main bag, a toiletries case, and an extra square net bag for accessories. The roomy main compartment has double-double zippers (two-sided flaps that meet in the middle on top of the bag), a shoe compartment in the bottom, multiple pockets on the exterior (zippered and open), a loop to hold keys, and a laptop pocket inside. There is even an extra clip to hold a yoga mat.
I am very impressed by it. The netting has an attractive shimmery green-gold sheen. I like the variety of pocket sizes, combined with the spacious interior. It's the kind of bag that has perfectly intuitive spots for everything -- no more scrambling to figure out where to stash a phone, passport, paperback, or stinky shoes. It would be perfect for travelling (small enough to be carry-on), yet large enough to carry a week's worth of clothing.
At first I was thrown off by the absence of a cross-body/shoulder strap, but apparently that is exclusive to the sport version of the bag, not the yoga one that I received; instead, there are loops on either end to attach a shoulder strap if I want to add one myself. The handles, however, are tall enough to slip over my shoulder, though this could get heavy if the bag were fully packed.
Most of all I love the ethics behind the bag's production. It feels good to know that the artisans who made it were paid decently for their work. As stated in a press release, each purchase "creates training and fair wage jobs and healthy working conditions, builds self-esteem and confidence and empowers women and men to escape the bonds of generational poverty that has trapped them for so long."
Add to that the repurposed industrial fabric, the diversion of waste from landfills, and a well-made product that looks like it will be operational for decades, and I have no qualms about recommending this product to anyone. We need more companies like Net Effects Traders that focus on making every aspect of the supply chain as socially and environmentally responsible as possible.