It is safe to say that our world is drowning in plastic cast-off by consumers around the world; whether it is little black toy wheels in the stomach of a juvenile albatross, or trees in the Amazon girdled by grocery bags, plastic is an evil that will endure far beyond our lifespan.

Since a lot of my work uses recycled sweaters to create wool felt, it seems logical to package gifts in a multi-purpose fabric pouch. What is a jewelry wrapper one day can be a camera case, glasses case or credit card holder another day. Sew two quick side seams, a button hole and the pouch is done.

My current dilemma surrounds my responsibility as a seller to provide wrapping or packaging for items I sell at a show. This Sunday October 7th, I’ll have my first booth at the I Heart Rummage craft show. Do I have to buy bags to hand to my customers? What do customers expect? What will they accept?

I have lots of clean, dry grocery bags in my kitchen. Would customers object to receiving their purchase in my reused plastic? While I have some small-handled gift-size paper shopping bags (you know the kind you get from upscale retailers), I don’t think I have enough for my purposes. My other idea is reusing the colorful coated gift bags people buy for birthday presents; lots of them have either seasonal motifs or childish prints on them, but they would serve the function. I’d appreciate any feedback or suggestions, and if any of my local readers have small paper bags they’d like to contribute, I’ll be at the Fiber Gallery tonight.


16 Responses to “Wrappers”

  1. 1 Julie Tuesday, October 2, 2007 at 10:26 am

    First let me say “Hi” from Redmond.
    I carry around a large, slouchy bag as a purse, so when I buy things from the store or a vendor that will fit in my bag I just throw it in there and don’t take a bag. I also try my best to keep tote bags in the car for shopping trips (I don’t always remember, though). I wouldn’t say anything if you didn’t offer a bag if I visited your booth. I would probably take whatever plastic bags I had around the house in case someone buys a bunch of stuff. Other than that, this is Seattle and we’re used being conscious about recycling and sustainability.

  2. 2 Alyssa Tuesday, October 2, 2007 at 10:50 am

    Hi there!
    I love you blog and your excellent tutorials!
    I sell things at shows and also refuse to buy bags for the same reasons. I have never had anyone look at me funny for offering them a grocery bag or recycled bag of any kind (and I am in Wisconsin – pretty conservative here!) I don’t think you should be the least bit worried. And I love the idea of reused gift bags – they might be the most likely to continue to have a useful life! One spot that is more difficult is packaging the jewelry… I bought a hundred of these adorable little cloth drawstring bags from Nepal and gave them for free with jewelry purchases (they were crazy cheap) and people LOVED that. I tihnk they would have even paid for them! So, that’s another idea, if you see someone is buying it as a gift, offer to sell them one of your great pouches as wrapping at a dollar off what you normally sell them at.

    Good luck!

  3. 3 Angela Tuesday, October 2, 2007 at 11:27 am

    Your delema makes sense. Most people don’t need more plastic bags. But at the same time old used bags don’t seem “professional.” And while it would be really strange to get your purchase in a baby shower bag it is much nicer and is still reusable. I think the gift bags make more sense. But you have a real point there as many of your products are recycled.

  4. 4 Wendy Tuesday, October 2, 2007 at 2:10 pm

    Maybe if you give a ‘Save the Environment and Use Your Own Bag’ discount (and have a small sign), you may be able to get by with the nicer ones first and hopefully people will prefer to throw it in a bag they already have. And maybe if you put a Reduce, Reuse, Recycle sign near your bags, they’ll be glad to receive used bags.

    The funny thing is that you’re worried people won’t like recycled plastic bags and when I use my fabric ones (http://www.flickr.com/photos/gwendygay/1137219517/) at the grocery store, people look at me like I’m crazy. I get a good response at health food stores and craft stores, but most people think it’s a pain to bag in something different that what they normally use. Weird.

    Good luck, though, whatever you decide.

  5. 5 Sherry Tuesday, October 2, 2007 at 3:29 pm

    I love craft fair and have been to many. I’ve often received my purchases in recycled plastic bags and have not been offended. I’ve also received purchases in re-used gift bags. That’s been fine with me too … well except for the one that had glitter that came off on everything.

    Good luck. I love looking at all of your creations.

  6. 6 Linda Tuesday, October 2, 2007 at 7:14 pm

    I have been to a lot of shows and craft fairs and a lot use used plastic bags they save and have had some use fancy paper bags!! another thing some have done is buy those smaller plain brown paper bags with little handles and decorated them (Like now with Halloween theme) etc!! painted stamped etc etc! some with their logos on front if they have them or a card inside etc!! but thing anything will be great use what you have on hand etc!! Hugs Linda

  7. 7 Carrie Tuesday, October 2, 2007 at 8:39 pm

    Hmm. That is a tough one. I would say you definitely need bags of some sort, but do ask. Since I’ve started carrying around my own market bag I get really annoyed when people automatically put stuff in plastic bags! I personally wouldn’t be offended by re-used grocery bags, but I could see some people thinking that was unprofessional or wierd. If you do that it might not be a bad idea have a sign up that says you recycle plastic bags or something.

    I have started using scrap fabric to make little bags for gifts and such. Love the recycled pouches!

  8. 8 Denise Thursday, October 4, 2007 at 6:10 am

    I’ve gotten used plastic grocery bags before and I certainly don’t mind. The recycled gift bag idea is good too.

    As other commenters have mentioned maybe you could have a sign explaining your intentions on recycling. Really, the recycled bags are actually a perfect fit with your products!

    When we were in Ireland we noticed everyone had their own market bags for shopping. In fact, at many of the grocery stores we shopped at it was assumed that you would provide your own bag and there was a $.15 charge if you needed the store to provide a bag.

  9. 9 jackie Saturday, October 6, 2007 at 5:50 am

    When I sell I have a variety of bags depending on the price of the item that they are buying. Scarves (most expensive) go in the paper gift bags seeing as most of the scarves are purchased as gifts anyway. Yarn goes into the reused grocery bags, but I usually pick out the bags that don’t have store logos on them. And the small items go into paper lunch type bags. And if someone has a large purse or bag of other stuff (that is not groceries) I ask if they want a bag.

    I hope you have a great weekend!

  10. 10 Kate Tuesday, October 9, 2007 at 2:29 am

    Here in England we are trying very hard not to use so many bags (well, some of us are!). I now keep a cheap cotton tote in my bag to use when out shopping, and some supermarkets are beginning to charge for plastic bags. Perhaps you could make totes for your next sale (see the Morsbag project – they make them from thrifted bedding). Have you thought of recycled tissue paper for wrapping things – not everything even needs a bag. Or newspaper? People have got to be taught to do without things which have become the norm, and I think small personal businesses are a great place to start! Hope your sale went well.
    Love your felt. I have RSI so I can’t do it, except on my embellisher. xx

  11. 11 Leigh Wednesday, October 10, 2007 at 12:11 pm

    Found the link to your blog at Jackie’s. What great ideas! My kind of stuff.

  12. 12 Laura Thursday, October 11, 2007 at 8:01 pm

    First, I love the “Shop Spider Felt” logo!!!! It’s perfect! As for the bad dilemma… I know it’s late, but for future fairs, if you use plastic bags, maybe you could create mini string tied bundles of fabric scraps and yarn, a few beads (ahem..stamps) etc to drop in each bag with a small printed note about how you recycle and reuse and you encourage them to do the same and here is a seed to get started etc…then the focus is on their little “something extra” as opposed to the bag. Even if the little something extra is tiny, people get excited, plus it gets them on board with a theme for your business and believe me…no one will turn their nose up at the bag. Something about weaving a web from one person to another etc…etc…without going too hokey…Or did I just? 🙂

  13. 13 Tera Friday, October 12, 2007 at 1:39 pm

    I know it’s a bit late, but my vote is that you can choose any of these options for bags at a show. I think that people respect and appreciate any effort to cut down on waste. If you want to make sure that it’s taken in the vein intended, a simple note at the booth or a mention of it when you make the sale and hand the bag over is a good way to make sure people understand. I doubt anyone will find it less that professional, especially because your work is so lovely. And I LOVE the little pouches!!

  14. 14 kristin Sunday, October 21, 2007 at 8:43 am

    i’m obviously late here and it looks like you got some great suggestions…i’ll be curious to hear how it worked out for you (sometimes i feel like retailers are SHOVING their bags at me and when i politely but adamently refuse them, they seem somewhat perturbed…)hopefully those shopping at your booth felt no need for a bag.

  15. 15 kristin Sunday, October 21, 2007 at 8:43 am

    BTW…i love your handy little felt pouches 🙂

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