What makes sustainable project bags

Making of sustainable project bags

A year ago I wrote a blog post about finding purpose in business. I wrote: “We start our businesses with a hope they’ll become our legacy. We all want our lives to be meaningful, we want to live what we stand for. If we are contributing to something important, we feel that the work becomes bigger than ourselves.“

It took me a while to uncover what’s the greater purpose for me in my business. After 10 months since taking Kaliko to full-time, I know what I want. I want to have have a multiplied impact, not only as an economic engine but also setting trends and promoting what I believe in. 
I want to offer products that are sustainable, ethical and environmentally friendly. But also to educate about how long it takes to make products by hand and that to support myself with my work I have to charge more than H&M. On top of that - I don’t want to serve impulsive shoppers. It’s likely you really thought it through before you bought one of my 75$-bags and that’s amazing, because the last thing this planet needs is more waste. My bags aren’t cheap but they will serve you well and for a long time. So that you don’t have to buy a new one every few months.

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What goes into Kaliko project bags?

Unbleached organic cotton
I source Turkish organic cotton with a GOTS certificate. Turkish cotton has a shorter route to Germany than Indian cotton, which reduces the transportation’s impact on the planet. I use heavy canvas for sturdy and durable bags.
You can find a full article about advantages of organic cotton here.

Unbleached natural linen
All linen I source is produced either in Poland or Lithuania, unbleached and unwashed, saving water.

Dyed with local plants
Most of the plants I use for extracting pigments come from local parks in Berlin. The rest, that I purchase, grows either in Germany or the EU, hence no long transportation and no unnecessary shipping across the seas.

No metal mordants
Most of the fabrics I use, I pretreat with soya milk acting as a pigment binder. I am also using iron solution, which is safe (and even healthy) for humans, as iron is one of the elements found in human’s body. Some of the leftover fabric that I pretreated with aluminium years ago is still is use, but it’s always openly stated in the product description, so that you can decide if you want to have it.

Metal & cotton zippers
I use metal zippers without nickel, on an unbleached cotton band. The zippers were produced locally, in Germany.

Ubleached linen cord pullers
I add pullers to the zippers myself, by hand. The pullers are made with linen cord, unbleached and coming from Poland.

Waterbased acrylic textile paint
Botanical imprints show local plants and are stamped by hand, using acrylic textile paint on the basis of water, instead of oil paint. Each imprint is slightly different than another.

100% paper packaging
I don’t use plastic in my packaging. The tags for my bags are made of recycled paper with an environmental certificate (carbon neutral printing). I ship the bags wrapped into recycled paper and bound with a raffia ribbon, safely placed in a paper box. Everything is secured with a paper tape, 100% solvent free.

How are Kaliko project bags made?

Hand dyed
I extract all pigments directly from plants in our Berlin-Neukölln studio. This is also where I pretreat, dye and air-dry the fabric.

Hand stamped
Each bag is stamped by hand. There are usually minimum 5 imprints on each bag, every single one stamped separately and carefully.

Hand sewn
Producing locally is far more expensive than overseas, but this way I can make sure I support people from my community, that I know. Our Kaliko team counting 4 people at the moment is entirely female and Berlin-based. All project bags in size large are sewn by Franzi, who is a real professional and always delivers the prettiest bags of the highest quality.

To see the effects of our efforts, visit my shop.
Most bags I offer are one-of-a-kind and won’t be reproduced. There will be new bags popping up over time!


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Ania Grzeszek2 Comments