Why it matters

About your Desh ka Bag

How long will a Desh ka Bag last?

Since these are made with cloth and stitched well, they should last you a long time – at least 5 years if used well. This is what makes them recyclable too. If your bag is torn, repurpose it for dusting or cleaning purposes.

Why are there only 3 sizes available?

Having too many sizes makes it difficult to manage the prices and the distribution and inventory. Please remember this is a distributed manufacturing system, many small enterprises make these and it’s difficult to have quality control over too many sizes.

Why are the bags not all uniform in plain colour?

Having a plain colour is possible only if you use fresh virgin fabric. Using virgin cloth defeats the purpose of the Desh ka Bag. The objective is to create a sustainable alternative to the single-use plastic bag, so it is best to repurpose textile waste for this. Repurposing does not allow you control over colour.

If we all know that single-use plastic bag is harmful, why is it so hard to remove it from our world?

Because it’s convenient, its light, its cheap and its available.

You are walking down a road and see wonderful mangoes on the cart of a street vendor. You know these will be a treat for your kids, so you buy some and realize that you don’t have your bag. What will most people do in such a situation?

If the Government has banned all plastic bags and the vendor does not have access to alternatives, he will lose your business.

If the government ban is not being enforced very well, the vendor may slip a plastic bag out of a hidden from view store and give you the mangoes.

"So, a ban will result in business losses for the informal vendors. Even if they have the means to buy alternatives, most often their clientele will not pay for these bags, since they have been bred on the “free bag” mentality for many years now. Often the alternatives available are just plastic disguised as “environmentally safe” bags, like non-woven bags or oxo degradable bags (which are harmful). Larger vendors, shops, and retailers will find alternatives like paper or cloth bags made out of virgin textiles.

The informal vendors are adversely affected with very little support for a long-term solution that works for all stakeholders".

Why not plastic or other biodegradable materials?

Which is the better bag – plastic, paper, cloth?

There are many studies that have explored this question. The studies measure the impact based on the lifecycle analysis of these bags from extraction, production, and manufacture to distribution. Most of the studies affirm that the plastic bag is the least harmful to the environment. Such a verdict is very confusing to the lay person. It is natural to then ask – are we stuck with this bag that we all know is causing such damage to the environment?

When you dig a deeper into each of these studies, you find that none of them have accounted for the impact of the behavior around the use and disposal of these bags. None of the reports consider the costs of the littering and pollution from the plastic bags.

So perhaps we must frame our inquiry differently –

The question - Which is a better bag – plastic, paper or cloth? - May not be the most pertinent question to ask. Because it limits our investigation to only the impact of the materials of the bag. The carry bag system is much more than its materials!

Most of the problems we have currently are because of how we perceive, use and dispose these bags.

So perhaps a better question would be “How can I do my shopping in a way that rewards my reuse behavior, does not need virgin material and does not cause harm by littering?”

Then it may let us explore different options given that goal.

"The system of the shopping bag or carry bag includes our perception of it being “free” not to be “paid” for.

It includes our expectation of having a bag available at our site of shopping when we have forgotten to carry one.

It includes an aversion to the guilt of having not carried a bag.

It includes a need to appear eco-friendly even while not fully buying into this “pressure” to carry a bag at all times.

It includes a retort of “I am only human, I can’t be perfect, its ok to forget sometimes”.

If we all know that the single use plastic bag is harmful, why is it so hard to remove it from our world?



Because it’s convenient, its light, its cheap and its available.

You are walking down a road and see wonderful mangoes on the cart of a street vendor. You know these will be a treat for your kids, so you buy some and realise that you don’t have your bag. What will most people do in such a situation?

If the Government has banned all plastic bags and the vendor does not have access to alternatives, he will lose your business.

If the government ban is not being enforced very well, the vendor may slip a plastic bag out of a hidden from view store and give you the mangoes.

“So, a ban will result in business losses for the informal vendors. Even if they have the means to buy alternatives, most often their clientele will not pay for these bags, since they have been bred on the “free bag” mentality for many years now. Often the alternatives available are just plastic disguised as “environmentally safe” bags, like non-woven bags or oxo degradable bags (which are harmful). Larger vendors, shops, retailers will find alterntiaves like paper or cloth bags made out of virgin textile.
The informal vendors are adversely affected with very little support for a long-term solution that works for all stakeholders”

Is there no other material alternative like paper?

Paper is a precious resource and while ‘brown paper bags” may seem sustainable, they require more resources to make and if not sourced from sustainable forests, they are truly harmful to the planet. Often, they are never reused, which is a shame since a lot of energy and resources are used to make them. They are often compostable, which is a good thing.

Is compostable or biodegradable plastic the answer?

Not yet.

They are both options that may have potential in the future and hopefully will be developed further.

Compostable Plastic - is currently only an alternative if it is separated out from the waste stream, collected separately, and then placed in an industrial composter. Compostable plastic will not ‘break down in the ground. Compostable plastic needs light, oxygen and heat, none of which will be available in a landfill. Until that happens compostable plastic will act like normal plastic and can continue to harm wildlife.

Biodegradable Plastic - is in its infancy and there are many unsuitable types on the market.

For example: oxo-degradable plastic bags bound together with vegetable components. Once the vegetable has degraded, small pieces of plastic remain in the environment and cause just as much harm as any other plastic.

In addition, these bags often look so much like non-biodegradable plastic, they are neither separated nor collected differently. Thus, the bags are likely to end up either in recycling – which will not work - or in a landfill where they still take years to degrade. And, if the bags do end up in our oceans, they will still harm wildlife via entanglement and ingestion, due to their long breakdown time.

What about the non-woven bags - everyone says they are safe!

These are just plastic masquerading as cloth - don't be fooled. Light a bit of bag with a match and see how it burns - its smoke is a giveaway of the material.

Even if I use repurposed textile waste - even that will eventually be waste - so what is the point

You are right, creating an alternative safer material is not enough, we need to reuse this bag as many times as possible for it to have the best positive impact. That is why we want to use technology to help incentivize reuse and track that. This will happen in Phase two of the initiative.

Remember never litter a bag - work to reuse, repurpose and recycle the bag.

If you have too many bags accumulated at your place, sell them back to us.

Why repurpose textile waste into bags?

What about the non-woven bags - everyone says they are safe!

These are just plastic masquerading as cloth - don’t be fooled. Light a bit of bag with a match and see how it burns - its smoke is a giveaway of the material.

Even if I use repurposed textile waste - even that will eventually be waste - so what is the point

You are right, creating an alternative safer material is not enough, we need to reuse this bag as many times as possible for it to have the best postive impact. That is why we want to use technology to help incentivise reuse and track that. This will happen in Phase two of the initiative.
Remember never litter a bag - work to reuse, repurpose and recycle the bag.
If you have too many bags accumulated at your place, sell them back to us.