TSiBA Supports Sustainable Entrepreneurship

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Greyton’s Bags

In 2015 Greyton started the long journey to becoming a town that has voluntarily rid itself of the single use plastic shopping bag.  Under the banner of local sustainability organisation, Greyton Transition Town, a number of awareness raising initiatives were held, in collaboration with Two Ocean’s Aquarium and their national ReThink the Bag campaign that aims to rid all of South Africa of the shopping bags.  It soon became apparent that the bags that were being sold at the time as an alternative to plastic lacked many of the advantages of the plastic ones.  Firstly many were quite expensive (over R15) in comparison to the 70 cents or so charged for plastic, secondly the alternatives on offer did not fold easily and people had to remember to put them in their car before shopping.

The following year, after much searching, GTT discovered Gelvenor Fabrics in KZN where South Africa manufactured parachute fabric is created.  Off cuts from the factory, usually large rolls of over 100 metres, are sold to GTT for just R3 a metre.  The design needed a lot of consideration.  Straps had to be long enough to go over the shoulder but not so long that, if held in the hand, the bag would drag on the ground.  Straps had also to be wide enough so as not to dig into the shoulders.  The making of the bags had to be competent with strong stitching so as not to compromise the inherent strength of the fabric.  Finally, and most importantly, skilled ex factory machinists had to be identified because only they would be able to produce the volume and quality that would allow them to earn a decent income whilst keeping the bag affordable.

Two machinists were discovered in Genadendal who were on social grants due to being unable to go into work.  They are, however, able to work from home and now they are busy full time on the bags and have just recruited two apprentices.  They are able to earn up to R2000 a week each due to the speed and quality of their work.  Despite that, the bags sell wholesale for just R8.50 and retailers are encouraged to offer them for R10.


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