We've always been fans of all natural, biodegradable, low maintenance jute as a textile for our monogrammed bags. It feels good to sell bags that leave such a small footprint on the planet, both in their production and their use and destruction.
So we loved reading an article in the New York Times about the jute industry in West Bengal, the part of the world where a large majority of jute farms and factories are located. That industry, not long ago on the brink of collapse, is now growing furiously as petrochemical-based textiles and plastic are slowly being phased out.
Jute is even replacing cotton for so many good reasons: it is durable than cotton, needs less water resources for its cultivation, does not require heavy pesticides or bleaches and, importantly, jute has a shorter growing time.
According to the New York Times, "jute also provides a longer stream of income to farmers because they can first sell its leaves as a vegetable. Later, the plant's inner stem is used to manufacture paper, while the outer layer produces fiber. The leftover sticks are used to make charcoal and gunpowder. The plant also absorbs carbon dioxide at a high rate."
Can jute do no wrong?? Well of course it can: it relies on cheap labour for its cultivation, the production process is noisy and dusty, and it has to be flown or shipped around the world to its users. But heavy investment in productivity improvements is creating jobs and improving livelihoods. And relative to many other textiles, jute is virtuous indeed.
Have a look at our Sustainable Gifting Edit to see all our jute bags and other sustainably made goods.