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How Did the Linen Tote Bag Become an Enduring Symbol of Global Sustainability?

How has the linen tote bag become a global symbol for sustainable responsibility? Part of the answer is embedded in the biodegradable fibres and the rest is in the sustainable methods of making the bags. But more than that, the humble tote bag has become a fashionable accessory that is just like the jackets and shoes we wear; signalling something about our character. The tote silently communicates the carriers concern about the planet, their interest in taking small steps to preserve it. Its durable ongoing repeated use makes it functional and reduces the need for single-use plastic carrier bags. But there is something more, something about the history and the material that appeals.

Ethical, sustainable and conscious

Increasingly, people are interrogating the processes behind their every purchase. Ethical, sustainable and conscious consumerism is becoming the normal practice of consumption for millions of shoppers around the world. Millennials, who were born between 1981 and 1997, account for 27 per cent of the global population and are now the most influential buying generation. A 2015 Nielsen report found that 73 per cent of the Millennial generation was willing to pay more for sustainable goods. Sustainability, corporate responsibility, ethics and an understanding of where their goods come from are now major factors in their purchasing process.

While switching from single-use plastic bags to a tote bag has a positive impact, it helps to truly understand the how and why. For any of us to understand our impact on the planet we must first understand the production process that hides in the shadows behind even the most casual purchase. That includes the linen tote bags we carry with us every day.

Linen Story - Marvel of Human Ingenuity

Linen is one of the oldest textiles used by humans. The Egyptians used it in burial practices to embalm the dead and even used it in the same way we might use paper currency today. Unlike cotton, which is spun from only one part of the cotton plant, linen is made from the full length of the flax plant, with relatively little waste. Throughout history, cotton has been regarded as the more sophisticated material, but its complicated and demanding growth, cultivation and excess waste make it less than ideal as a material to symbolise the sustainable era.

All-natural fibres such as cotton, hemp, wool and flax undergo a long process before they are spun into yarn. Linen made from flax differs from other yarns because of its greater tensile strength and durability. While cotton is ideal for lightweight t-shirts and vests but is easily torn and warped under pressure. Likewise, wool is prone to breakage and unsuited for anything that requires a firm structure. Because of these qualities, linens were used to make ship’s sails in ancient Egypt, canvasses in Renaissance Italy and were even chosen to form the outer skin of planes flown in world war I. In fact, during the conflict, the typical fighter aeroplane was made of a lightweight wooden frame, covered with about 170 square metres of linen. If they used cotton they risked developing long tears in a firefight, destroying the plane. But a bullet through linen only leaves a hole, and the plane remains safe and is easily repaired. Away from aviation, in sartorial terms, linen was the default material for underwear in medieval Europe; it was an ideal textile for the womenswear during the American revolt against the English when cotton was hard to come by; and in the 21st century it is a popular alternative to cotton for men’s suits and refined womenswear. From being wrapped around entombed mummies and first world warplanes to the material of choice for fine tablecloths and summer suits, linen constantly proves itself to be a marvel of human ingenuity.

Reducing Impact on the Planet

Of course, knowing a little about the processes involved in growing linen, and the way it is transformed into a textile is interesting. As is discovering how and why it has been used throughout history. But the real interest comes about when we understand how it stacks up against other textiles and how truly sustainable it is. Defra research from 2010 ranked materials according to five categories: Energy use, Water use, Greenhouse gases, Wastewater and Direct land use. Natural Bast fibres which include textiles derived from Flax, beat wool in four out of five categories and cotton in all five categories. Defra concluded that consumers buying textiles derived from this category were proactively reducing their impact on the planet.

Rimalinum Tote Bags - as Tough and Enduring as it is Stylish

Not all linen is created equal. Lithuanian linen is world-renowned for its quality, distinctive shade and the traditional methods of processing, weaving used. Furthermore, Lithuanian linens are typically beautifully embroidered and hemstitched elevating them to cherished items in the families that possess them. Specialist in traditional Linen production, Rimalinum produce their Linen Tote bags in the traditional Lithuanian style and have incorporated the traditional art embroidery into the varied designs. Floral motifs include roses, poppies and daffodils, but the collection also includes an abstracted feminine silhouette and a tone on tone face with a playful bold pop of red lipstick. With contrasting inner linings, comfortable and durable extra-wide carry straps, a linen tote bag from Rimalinum promises to be as tough and enduring as it is stylish.

Make sure the linen tote bag you carry with you all the time represents more than just your desire to reject single-use plastics. It should represent a long tradition of sustainable textile production, the careful management of natural resources and human ingenuity. At the same time, it should be functional and look great. Wear your Rimalinum linen tote bag with pride knowing you are helping keep our planet clean and green.

Rimalinum Linen Tote Bag prices start from €35 per bag. Get 15% discount now!

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