Brown-Bagging It

It’s not such a strange sight anymore: people shopping and carrying out their purchases in their own fabric bags. And if Emilie Rider has anything to say about it, the trend will continue.

Rider owns the Brown to Earth Bag Co., a bootstrapped, entrepreneurial endeavor operated out of her Edmond home. Rider creates fabric shopping bags – sturdy, reusable and long-lasting alternatives to plastic shopping bags. The ubiquitous plastic bag is often used only once before being discarded – and then languishes and decomposes over a period of 450 years.


“The overwhelming response is that people like the bags because the fabric is sturdy and the design is functional,” says Rider, who began Brown to Earth Bag Co. about a year ago. “And businesses have embraced it and been willing to load the bags.”


The idea for Brown to Earth began when Rider’s sister returned to the United States after a year in Australia. There, she became accustomed to taking her own bags to stores because that’s what’s expected.


“In Australia, they’re a little more advanced in being ‘green.’ They’re trying to cut down on all that unnecessary waste and they expect you to use your own bags,” says Rider. “When my sister came back, she couldn’t find the bags here, so she used the ones she brought with her. People came up to her and asked where she got her bags, so we began researching how to get the bags to people in the U.S.”


After doing her homework, Rider fixed on a fabric and style. The bags are made of 100 percent non-woven polypropylene, which ranks fifth on the recyclable scale. The handles are reinforced and the bottom is flat for easier transport of groceries and other items.


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