This post is brought to you by Richshaw Bagworks
Want to be kind to the environment and your neighbors? Try buying sustainable, locally made products like ones from Richshaw Bagworks.
When Mark Dwight founded Rickshaw Bagworks in 2007 in San Francisco, he followed a simple rule, “We embrace what I call the "three f's" of sustainable design: form, function, and footprint. We pride ourselves on making high-quality products for long-term, everyday use.” That’s a rather lofty ideal. One that a lot of manufacturers don’t follow—How many times have you bought something that was guaranteed to last, but didn’t’? It happens a lot.
To ensure sustainability and “forever-ness,” Dwight worked with an upholstery mill based in North Carolina. They ended up creating a beautiful and durable fabric made from recycled bottles. Who knew a drink container could end up slung over your shoulder?
People are constantly reminded to recycle. To not toss out bottles, anything plastic and especially paper goods. Who would have thought that a plastic bottle would not only create a job, it would create a fashion statement? While there’s been a lot of talk about bringing manufacturing back to the states, the one plastic bottle that you put in the recycle bin, helps to keep jobs in the U.S. Dwight stated in an article in Inc.Magazine “At Rickshaw, we work with local vendors for a variety of outside services, including screen printing and embroidery. In fact, we make many of our vendor visits by bicycle. We purchase roughly 70 percent of our parts and materials from domestic sources, and we're working to drive that number to 100 percent. We believe that any additional incremental expenses that result from sourcing domestically will be offset by operational efficiencies and positive brand equity.”
The Zero Messenger Bag comes in four sizes: Mini, small, medium and large (priced from $49 to $119) and was cited by TreeHugger.com as “stylish, sophisticated, and most importantly, sustainable.” It’s also customizable! By buying this bag, you’re not only carrying a chic tote, you’re also carrying a bag that was made with zero waste. It was also created locally—in San Francisco and is completely recyclable too.
That’s just one of the very cool facets of a Rickshaw Bagworks bag, they’re customizable. You can pick the colors, so that the bag reflects your personality. If you’re buying one as a gift, for example, you could create a messenger bag that’s in your recipient’s team colors.
Rickshaw Bagworks also creates iPad Mini sleeves, covers for Kindle, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air, backpacks, totes, folios and more. And each one can be customized. They’re all made in their factory in San Francisco. If you’re curious about how a bag is created, you can actually visit their factory and watch how it’s done before your very eyes. They have 20 people who create bags all day long.
In an article for Inc. Magazine, Dwight stated that visitors “Ask if they can take photos. They seem fascinated by what we do, because it's something you just don't see every day.” Not only is Dwight proud of the fact that his bags are made locally, and in the same city that saw the birth of Levi’s, but that he’s been able to pay his workers well.
One of the arguments about out-sourcing manufacturing is that it’s cheaper to make things overseas and the lower prices are passed back to the customers. Dwight and Rickshaw Bagworks have been able to disprove that notion. As he states in that same article, “…Makes what we do even more improbable. At $10.55 an hour, San Francisco has the highest minimum wage of any city in the United States, along with onerous business taxes and skyrocketing rents. Fully burdened with insurance, taxes, and benefits, our factory labor rate is $20 an hour--20 times the current labor rate in China and 100 times that in Bangladesh… Still, I wouldn't have it any other way. San Francisco is no place for large-scale industrial manufacturing or low-cost production of commodity goods. But it happens to be an ideal location for micromanufacturers like Rickshaw.”