The Tree Bag is a fully biodegradable bag made by Dutch brand reWrap. The outside of the bag is made from coconut husks which are pressed together with natural resin making the bag very strong, lightweight and waterproof. The handle is made from walnut and polished with beeswax. The bags are sewn only from 100% wood pulp. When we found reWrap on the Contemporist, we wanted to know more. So we asked them about their works and thoughts about design, sustainability and inspirations.
Here’s an interview with reWrap:
Where did the idea to focus on sustainable, conscious design come from?
We have always felt preserving the environment as something important and both of our careers already touched the field of sustainability, albeit from a different angle. The specific interest came when we both learned about the Cradle to Cradle principle from different sources and when an opportunity presented itself to turn our interest into action, we jumped right into it.
Nowadays, the word ‘sustainability’ is being thrown around a lot. What sustainable design/product means to you?
We believe sustainability is not a fixed definition but a way of thinking that, according to the situation, timeframe and context, can be defined. In the case of product design there are different angles possible to design in a sustainable way. In our case, the biological cycle of the Cradle to Cradle principle (all materials come from nature and after being used, it can return to nature without harming the environment) made the most sense.
How did you come up with the idea of the ‘Tree Bag’?
After our first products, the ‘sheep’ sleeves (laptop, tablet, phone sleeves made out of natural wool felt), we decided on the challenge to create a fully sustainable bag. After an intensive material study we got attached to the coconut fibre (left over husk from the palm tree) and found a partner that was willing to experiment with us. We were triggered and amazed by the fact that nature and trees have so much to offer and did a study of what else they got. Step by step we found our other ingredients: the natural rubber inside (sap of the rubber tree, dried in the sun), the walnut wood (FSC wood from the walnut tree) and the Tencel thread (wood pulp thread – less water is used to produce this thread compared to organic cotton).
By using these ingredients we had to rethink standard design solutions and be creative with the new ones. For instance, most bags use a zipper to close it, but this is obviously not biodegradable. We therefore designed a new wooden closing system for our Tree bag.
What inspires you to create?
As idealists, we believe we can contribute to help creating a better world. With a curious view and a positive spirit we see inspiration and solutions in the unthinkable.
As Mandela says: ‘action without vision is only passing time, vision without action is merely day dreaming, but vision with action can change the world.’
Tell us more about your commitment – why did you choose to hire disabled people?
Within the Cradle to Cradle principle there are couple of guidelines: all materials can be reused, all energy is generated sustainably and working conditions during production are good.
Therefore, we decided to look for local production partners. It would not only reduce our footprint (energy used for transport), but we would also be in direct contact and able to produce together. When we ran into the social local workshop we found a great partner. We can help each other, we are glad they invest their energy in sewing together our bag, and at the same time it helps them to develop themselves to make a smoother transition back to society.
What are your main goals as designers?
Our goal is to show others that designing according the Cradle to Cradle principle is possible. By being creative, persistent, working hard and believing in what you are doing a lot is possible. We hope to stimulate others to do the same. We are looking forward to a future where sustainable design is the norm instead of the exception.
Thank you for the interview!