Emily Hay founded Ecosilk Bags in 1999, dismayed by the widespread acceptance of plastic bag use in society, and the lack of viable alternatives. While this phenomenon has completely changed to date, with a variety of reusable shopping bags now available, back then there were almost no other options than to use plastic bags.

As a pattern-maker/fashion designer, Hay developed the basic design of a singlet plastic bag, using a durable nylon fabric called parachute silk and advanced sewing machining methods for strength. After trialing the bags for two years and finding them to be ideal in every way, she started the business – Ecosilk Bags – in January 2001, with some initial help from a friend. The bag production began on the kitchen table, where they were cut and machined by Hay, but by 2005 had grown to mass production in China. The first bags were sold in local health food shops, and then expanded to include gift shops, book shops, post offices and printing for corporate and government departments.

Ecosilk Bags can be used time and time again and it is estimated that up to a thousand plastic bags may be eliminated during its five year life span. The Ecosilk collection boasts five versatile styles – traditional shopping bag, shoulder, fruit and veg as well as a drawstring and mini bag. All are made to a high standard from endlessly recyclable 100 per cent nylon parachute silk, a hard wearing material providing a weight capacity of up to 14 kilograms for the shopping and shoulder bags.

The bags are sold throughout Australia and in a small number of shops in the UK and Canada, and small scale distribution in the US. New distributors in New Zealand are also working hard to expand the market there. The business is currently operated from Emily’s property in Barkers Vale, in the Northern Rivers area of New South Wales, Australia.

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