USING WASTE AS A RESOURCE
ISLAND JAVA BAG
By Vancouver Island Up-cycle and Design
Our Story - Beginnings
I started Island Java Bag in 2010. My son actually named the company. As a single mom with a special needs child, it made outside employment difficult. The idea of making bags and totes out of up-cycled burlap coffee bags while not new, was a good fit to start a small business from home and selling them at the local farmer's market. It was a unique product to this area of Vancouver Island.
I also wanted a product that was eco - friendly. Using burlap coffee bags that would be thrown away ending up in a landfill and using other materials found second - hand fit the bill. Searching for burlap coffee bean bags, I answered an ad in the paper and found Synergy Enterprises in Victoria. They were working with a client, Oughtred Coffee, a large local roaster that at the time was working to become carbon neutral and landfill free. A strong relationship developed with both of them, with Oughtred supplying a large amount of the bags we need and Synergy Enterprises supporting me with business ideas, community support and know how. Over time I developed relationships with other coffees roasters on Vancouver Island who also supply us with bags and helps them by keeping them out of the waste stream.
This little start-up continues to a grand success. I continue to receive unbelievable support from others. I recently received a very generous grant from Oughtred Coffee to purchase a new industrial sewing machine. This has helped me free up a sewing machine to hire another single mom to help make our products. It also helps me improve productivity, product quality and will enable me to add different types of up-cycled materials and products to our line. Synergy Enterprises continues to support us with invaluable training, advice and opportunities. I can not thank these two companies enough.
I would like to thank all our customers, coffee roasters and other supporters that have helped us long the way. We have met lots of great people and our products have been received better than I ever could have expected. One of the really fun things for us is how many different places around the world our bags have gone. From Norway to Rio, Calgary to Toronto, from New York City to California and many, many other places.
I would love to here from you about other places our bags have found a home.
About our bags
All our burlap coffee bags are sourced locally from like minded roasters who want to make sure they have a second life and kept out of the landfills.
They come from all the world with the unique graphics and information printed on them from each individual coffee estate. We are lucky to have so many roasters on board to provide us such a wide variety of bags.
Other materials include malt bags from breweries, foil bags that contained roasted coffee from local coffee shops, keeping them out the waste stream. Old jeans and coats with holes that thrift stores are unable to sell otherwise. We try to use as many up-cycled and re-cycled materials as possible.
Even our soap and scrub comes from coffee that would have been thrown away. Our soap from green beans left over in burlap coffee bags, that we roast ourselves giving it a wonderful coffee scent. Our scrub uses coffee roasted during the "breaking in" phase of a new roaster the quality of which is not up to standard to sell as fresh roasted.