Meet Trashe Bags Founder, Patricia Byrd

All Ethical Packaging

In our last post about coffee bag recycling, we explained that Ethical Bean has recently partnered with a US-based upcycling organized called TRASHEBags to create some beautiful, custom totes with a selection of the bags from our take-back program. We use them to haul supplies to and from events, trade-shows, and around our office and production facility. They are superbly done, and we are SO impressed with their durability and use of your returned bags.

Their story is a fantastic one. TRASHEBags are an organization founded by one committed individual who saw a problem and sought out a solution. Take a read below to learn more about this awesome organization!

How did Trashe Bags start?

The initial idea started in Liberia in Africa, where citizens were facing an 80% unemployment rate and there was no trash disposal system. As an entrepreneur and business woman, I started to put two and two together and began to think of ways to both avoid creating new trash and address the employment concerns. We did it all in a way that is transferable and scalable, and when I returned to Colorado I began to work on it here!

What sort of discards are you collecting?

We collect materials that would otherwise be destined for landfill. They are usually plastic-foil composite, PET bags, and nothing but UV will break them down. All these factors also make these products durable, artistic (their design), and carry cultural associations due to people’s connections with their food products.

Who is doing the manufacturing?

All the bags are made locally in Colorado, where we are based. This is not the sole occupation for the people doing the sewing, so we are able to cut down on the number of hours they spend doing rather onerous work. We find (mostly) women who are having difficulty finding jobs, employ developmentally disabled persons to help prepare the materials (some require cleaning, for example), and we work together to try and find use for every element of the product. Our goal, however, is to produce the bags local to where we find large amounts of discards and a market for our products. We have a model for spinning up a TRASHEBags operation anywhere.

What have been the best parts of starting TRASHEBags?

The feedback from people has been amazing. The soul of the project is half the product value for most of our customers. Each bag comes with a groovy little tag that explains the project and where the funds are going. People get it.

What about the carbon footprint of shipping your upcycled bags?

I would love for the idea to take off in more places and for companies to be able to participate in local versions of TRASHEBags. The idea was built in a way that can be replicated anywhere, and I would be more than happy to speak with any community champions interested in starting a local TRASHEBags project.

Can you tell me a bit more about Ethical Bean bags?

Of course! Your current bags are made from either 100% upcycled Ethical Bean Coffee bags that you have received from your customers, or a combination of upcycled bags and discarded canvas from yurts made here in Colorado. Your latest batch were sewn by Dayna, who lives off the grid in the woods of Southwestern Colorado. Your initial sample bags were done by Mary.

Where can I get one?

The TRASHEBags website! You can find the Ethical Bean Coffee bags HERE , or browse our website for other great bags HERE.

2 Responses to Meet Trashe Bags Founder, Patricia Byrd

  1. Helena says:

    Hi,

    My name is Helena, and I was interested the TRASHeBAGS. I have a few coffee bags that I’d love to give up! Thanks!

    • Aqilla Aziz says:

      Hello Helena, unfortunately last time we tried to contact TRASHEBags to order more items, the company was closed and we none of our attempts at contact anyone have proven fruitful. Very sad because the bags we did get made always make an amazing impression everywhere we take them. We’ll keep our eyes open for people who offer a similar upcycling product and keep you updated.

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