It’s no secret that Reuben and Melissa, the founders of WOODS, are lovers of the ocean. Both have been avid surfers for most of their lives and now reside just a stone’s throw away from the sea on Papamoa Beach, where they’re raising their tribe to be ocean dwellers, too.
It’s this mindset and close connection with the water that has led to Melissa’s latest business venture, Salt Bags. The range includes mesh cotton market and produce bags, as well as cotton Furoshiki bags which WOODS has designed. All of the bags have been created with conscious consumers in mind and are worm friendly, plant-based, lightweight, strong, durable, 100 percent home compostable and friendly on the environment.
Salt Bags also create custom branded bags that business customers and their family will want to use and reuse. “We help you carry the things you need, without ruining the ocean” Melissa says.
“We specialise in sourcing bespoke bags that people love, that are good for our oceans and handy in life and the home. Our talented design team can create any style of illustration, artwork, branded pattern or label and can apply it to any of our environmentally friendly bags.”
Melissa says the idea for Salt Bags was sparked from struggling to remember to take along with her reusable supermarket bags when she went shopping.
Being a busy mother of four, she’d always make an effort to be organised when heading to the supermarket to pick up groceries for the family – but she’d find herself forgetting the bulky, plastic fibre bags sold by the supermarkets, so she’d end up buying more.
After she’d stockpiled a cupboard full of these bags (which are notably quite hard to store seeing as they only stay in one shape) she thought, ‘surely there’s a better way’ and began to research other options used around the world for carrying goods.
“I saw all these people around us trying to make better decisions, and we were too,” Melissa says. “People do care, but they were confronted with the only options at the supermarket, which were bags made out of plastic fabric. They’d take them home, but then they’re purchasing and buying decision making doesn’t change, as they’re bringing them home, filling up the cupboard and repeating the process.
“With Salt Bags, we wanted to educate people to take one step back before they go to the supermarket and step out with a purpose, rather than buying a whole lot of stuff and loading up the trolley. If you’re out and you only have that one market bag, you make a decision around what you really do need and what you don’t need. These bags make you live with purpose, carefully and in a minimalistic way.”
Furoshiki is a traditional Japanese wrapping cloth traditionally used to transport clothes, gifts, or other goods. WOODS custom designed the furoshiki fabric to reflect nautical, earthy and surf retro tones.
Whereas regular bags have a fixed amount of space that can only carry a particular type of object, Furoshiki is essentially fabric origami. It’s a beautiful piece of cloth that is highly versatile and can be folded and tied into different shapes and adapted to suit the exacts needs of the specific objects to be carried.
The advantage of the mesh bags and the Furoshiki bags is they’re lightweight and fold down into a small square, Melissa says, meaning you can carry them around at all times. The bulky supermarket bags on the other hand, not so much.
“I’ve always carried fabric in my bag anyway, be it scarves or sarongs, as with four kids I can use it to dry their hands, wash their face, or to carry kids out of surf break on the bottom of the hill,” she says.
“With the Furoshiki, you’re using beautiful, meaningful fabrics to contain and carry your things, so every day you’re living with a purpose and making decisions based on what you can and can’t carry.”
As well as this, the Salt Bags are being packaged up and sent out in WOODS’ new compostable courier packaging.
Salt of the Earth Packaging is a new separate division of WOODS which creates bespoke packaging options that are environmentally friendly and plant-based. The custom-designed courier bags Salt Bags are being sent out in, for example, can be popped in the compost or under a tree, and they will biodegrade back down into the earth.
This ties nicely into the wider brand ethos of Salt Bags, Melissa says, which is to own your impact and live with purpose.
“With Salt of the Earth Packaging, we can conduct packaging audits for companies wanting to look at the environmental impact their current packaging is having, and then we can provide options that would work better for them and for the environment,” she says. WOODS Agency has New Zealand Trade and Enterprise funding available to help companies wanting to look into more sustainable business practises and packaging.
She says the thinking behind Salt Bag’s branding is getting people of all walks of the life to care about the effect their day-to-day habits have on the ocean – not just the people who are in it constantly.
The sea has huge benefits for wellness for everyone, she says, particularly for mental health.
“We all need to look after the ocean,” Melissa says. “You may not surf or live at the beach, but you should care as it affects you. If you even just look at the ocean, your brain is hardwired to react positively to water and it has a calming effect on your brain. Being near the ocean and the sea is good for us, there’s magnesium in the sand and ocean – everything about it is therapeutic for us as humans.”
By using Salt Bags, she says people are taking a small step towards more conscious living and contributing to a happier, healthier environment.
The feedback on Salt Bags has been really positive, Melissa says. So far, the bags have been shipped out worldwide to Australia, Canada, France, Denmark and Europe.
Melissa says the consumer behaviour she hopes to change with Salt Bags is the whole idea of survival shopping.
“If you’re in the shop and you only have one bag – what are the key things you’ll need to get you through to the next stage?” she says. “No one’s perfect, and no one’s completely nailing sustainable living, but you’re better off giving it a try, stopping, reflecting and living with purpose.
I know a lot of people feel overwhelmed and stressed, so it’s about getting a small win with the bags so they can think ‘At least today I remembered the bag, I know it’s contributing to and educating people about the benefits of wellness, joy and happiness’.”
Check out Salt Bag’s website here.
Stay tuned for more information on WOODS environmentally friendly packaging division Salt of the Earth Packaging or follow them on @saltoftheearth_packaging
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