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How to Pack a Hiking Backpack for a Fun Weekend This Season

Many young people prefer to go hiking for a day or two during their winter holidays. Whether you visit a foreign country or head to some beautiful places in your area, you always need a solid travel backpack to carry all your gear and personal items. Hiking is all the rage right now if you and your family (or group of friends) want to shake off the sedentary office life you spent all year long. Moreover, some people are forever in love with mountains, an active lifestyle, and the joys of spending time outside. For all of you, we have today a short tutorial on how to pack a hiking pack for a weekend of outdoor fun!

How to Pack a Hiking Backpack for a Day of Nature Fun – The Basics

The first thing you should consider is to get a solid backpack for your hiking adventure. Even if you go hiking only for a weekend and dismiss the idea of sleeping in a tent in a snowy forest, you still need to be ready for everything. You can always include a two-day or a weekend hiking trip when you spend your winter holiday skiing or having a lovely time off, even abroad.

The best backpack to meet your needs and exceed your expectations should be large to accommodate your gear and personal items, solidly built, and preferably waterproof, especially if you hike in snowy areas. You can pick up a Squadron Pack Backpack for your hiking needs (and your urban activities once you come back from your trips), or an Easy-Travel Wheeled Backpack for the most versatile of travels.

As for waterproofing, you can buy a contractor bag to line the interior of your backpack before you start packing.

The more protection against moisture your backpack (and belongings) have, the better and safer your trip will be!

Now let’s move on to the essential things you need to know about how to pack a hiking backpack:

  • Break your packing process into three main zones: the bottom zone of the bag, the mid zone, and the top zone;
  • Do not forget about the backpack’s pockets and side storage areas;
  • Layering should be your primary goal;
  • Make sure you always fill the smallest of nooks and crannies until you get a stable load;
  • Weigh your backpack and check it for balance – your pack should not shift when you hike.

Now let us delve in the packing process of the three areas mentioned above while sharing with you some pro tips and tricks on how to pack a hiking pack for one-day trips.

How to Pack the Backpack Bottom Zone

You should dedicate this area to heavier items that add stability to your backpack. Include here one or more of the following:

  • Soft layers of clothing to change for the next day of the trip or dress even warmer for your winter adventure.
  • In case you spend the night in a hotel, villa, or cabin, take a soft fleece blanket to make sure you get the warmth you need; it also goes at the bottom of your backpack.
  • An extra pair of shoes if you need to change en route or want to wear something more comfortable at the hotel/motel than your hiking boots.
  • Long, thicker layers that you plan to sleep in – long underwear, a training suit, loungewear, etc.

If you pack soft and voluminous gear and items at the bottom of your backpack, you create a shock-absorption padded system that prevents pain and stress occurring against your back and especially lower back area.

How to Pack the Mid Zone of Your Backpack

Reserve this area for the heavy gear you will not particularly need during your hikes, but preferably in breaks or the night you spend at your accommodation:

  • A 12 pack cooler lunch bag to keep your food and refreshments, snacks, and other items you need to store safely;
  • A travel kit containing non-emergency medicine and other similar supplies, your toiletries for the night and next day, other personal things you do not want to misplace, and more;
  • Extra clothing in case you need some;
  • Your camera bag (if you carry it strapped from your neck or keep it in an outside backpack pocket for easy access). Take advantage of the space the camera bag offers and fill it to the brim with items you consider necessary to bring along your trip. It can easily carry an e-reader if you want to spend a quiet evening at the hotel or other gadgets and supplies, like a power bank or a small tablet.

A pro tip on how to pack a hiking backpack is to gather solid, bulky, and heavy items at the center of the bag. They create a stable gravity center, helping you carry the weight easier. Make sure you wrap bulky, irregular items in soft layers of clothing to prevent injuring your back while hiking.

How to Pack the Top Zone of Your Backpack

You will access the area frequently, so you should gather here the bulky essentials of your trip. The category can include:

  • An insulated/waterproof jacket;
  • The backpack cover in case you need it on the spot;
  • Head protection – beanie or hat;
  • The first-aid kit (which is different in content from your travel kit packed with other medication and personal items);
  • A roll of garbage bags if you stop for lunch in a clearing (they work well to store and separate today’s changed clothes from the other clothes in the bag);
  • A pack of snacks to keep you energized until the next break.

What and How to Pack Front, Side, and Accessory Pockets

Hiking and travel backpacks come with plenty of front, side, and other accessory pockets. In case you have one with a laptop pouch/sleeve (and you do not carry your notebook while hiking), use it as well to store your smaller essentials:

  • Insulated drink bottle to keep your tea warm while en route;
  • Water bottle;
  • Sunglasses and a small can of sunscreen – even if you hike in winter, the sun can be deceiving and cause you burns; do not forget your lip balm to protect you against cold-induced dry skin and lip cracks;
  • Phone (put it in a protective case);
  • Car keys and personal documents (ID, passport) – you may consider stashing them safely inside a small, flat, and zippered travel pouch; alternatively, if you want to keep your utmost essential items (wallet, documents, phone) within reach, you can use a zippered fanny pack with pockets.
  • A map of the area you go through;
  • Some pro hikers also take a GPS or a compass in case there is no phone service in the woods;
  • A headlamp for safe hiking when darkness falls;
  • More snacks.

How to Pack a Hiking Backpack – Some Pro Tips

Even if you hike for a day to reach an accommodation and then come back or continue your adventure in a different direction, hiking requires some knowledge and skills. Here are some more pro tips on how to pack a backpack for an unforgettable city-break or weekend:

  • Check the weight of the bag before you leave – it should not weigh more than 1/4 to 1/3 of your body weight;
  • If you hike in a group, spread the load evenly among you;
  • If you walk on an easy terrain, achieve better posture by packing the heavier items a little higher from the bottom of the backpack; if the path is hard, place the dense, heavy items as low as you can, to give you more balance;

  • Use colored stuff sacks to pack and unpack your gear efficiently. Use polyester medium drawstring bags to organize all items by category and color (first aid into the red drawstring bag, changed clothes into the black one, new clothes into the white one, etc.). Color makes things easier to spot when you are in a hurry. Also, make sure you do not stuff the bags as some level of play makes them easier to gather and squeeze into gaps, nooks, and crannies. Pick polyester for the stuff sacks as it is resilient to moisture, wear, and tear.

Final Thoughts

Now that we learned together how to pack a hiking backpack for your weekends of outdoor fun and adventure, feel free to share with us your packing tips, tricks, and ideas! Have you decided where you go hiking this season?

 

Written by Priscilla Greene — November 29, 2018

How to Spend an Eco-Friendly Christmas this Year

Christmas is just around the corner, and everybody is getting ready to welcome the holiday’s spirit inside their homes. Those who are mindful about the environment, however, pause to take stock of what an eco-friendly Christmas means, as they know the holiday brings a heavy toll on the environment and overall sustainability. Today, we will discuss a handful of tips, tricks, and ideas on how to spend an eco-friendly Christmas without burdening the environment even more than we regularly do.

Why is It Important to Spend an Eco-Friendly Christmas?

It seems that in the U.S.A alone we cut about 21 million trees, spend around $75+ billion on Christmas gifts, and send approximately 2 million of paper greeting cards. While the data is scarce, specialists consider that around Christmas, countries such as the U.S., Australia, or the U.K. contribute with over 2 million tons of greenhouse pollution, each.

Given such data, it is only reasonable to try reconsidering Christmas as a whole. The rule of thumb when you want to spend an eco-friendly Christmas (and enjoy it fully without missing anything) is a simplification. There are many ways to become more sustainability-friendly, and Christmas makes no exception. Let’s see next what can we all do to celebrate this glorious holiday without negatively affecting the environment.

The Eco-Friendly Christmas Tree

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There is no Christmas without a tree. While natural trees seem like the best choice, we have to remember that we all throw them away soon after the holidays. On the other hand, while cutting down millions of trees annually only to dispose of them in a few weeks is a terrible waste, plastic trees, no matter how real they look, are just as bad. They require copious amounts of energy to manufacture, not to mention they, eventually, become plastic waste as well. Here are some other alternatives to consider, nevertheless.

  • Instead of buying a new plastic tree, try shopping for a used one. The longer people use a plastic tree, the better it is for the environment. Plastic trees do not suffer incredible damage, and you can revamp yours quickly if you bought it second-hand.
  • If you live in a house rather than in an apartment, you can grow your own potted Christmas tree. It takes some maintenance and a huge pot, but you can bring it inside every year, decorate it, enjoy it, and then put it back outside in your beautiful yard.
  • Rent a potted Christmas tree from a nursery or garden center. More and more such services are available around the world, and they do us a huge favor. After the holidays, some centers come to collect the tree from your home and spare you the hassle.
  • You can make your version of a tree – DIY projects make family holidays glorious and, with little money and plenty of imagination, you can have your own branded tree that looks unique.

Eco-Friendly Christmas Gifts’ Wrapping and Bags

The sheer amount of paper we use each year for gift-wrapping is staggering. Do we have to mention that paper with a metallic shine to it is less biodegradable than usual paper and a nightmare to recycle? There are many simple, yet beautiful ideas on how to solve the Christmas gifts and wrapping dilemma this year in an eco-friendly manner.

  • Recycle old wrap paper and gift bags you already received (and store around the house) – not so long ago; we presented you with a guide on how to reuse gift bags and wrap paper and come up with original items.
  • Ditch paper altogether and go for sustainable fabrics. For instance, pick jute Christmas socks this year instead of paper gift bags or cardboard boxes. Besides being one of the most durable materials on the planet, jute adds texture, character, and color to your gifts. The best part is that the jute Christmas socks are reusable and the receiver can create some original gift bags or home decorations with their help.
  • Offer gifts in small/medium canvas tote bags that people can use for shopping or wear with casual outfits.
  • Offer gifts in jute/burlap gift bags, which are reusable, gorgeous, and adding a rustic, elegant flair to all types of presents, including wine bottles.
  • Sometimes it is difficult to wrap gifts that have irregular shapes; ditch the chemically treated wrap paper and go for jute gift pouches – besides being reusable, they also make an original household item in the kitchen or pantry (some people store coffee beans or dry fruits in them).
  • If you want to use paper, up-cycle and get creative: newspapers with twine, children drawings with bows, and an old colored cotton/canvas tote bag of yours with string (cloth makes one of the most exciting gift wraps), and so on.

Of course, you can step up your game and decorate Christmas tote bags and pouches to offer incredible experiences to your loved ones.

Kids love arts and crafts projects, and they will never say no to a DIY playful project. You can take the opportunity to teach sustainability at home and explain why it is essential for humankind to consider an eco-friendly Christmas more.

Other Tips and Ideas on Sustainable Christmas Gifts

Besides picking sustainable materials for your gifts bags and wraps, you can further your eco-friendly agenda and go green with the presents themselves. Here are some tips:

  • Shop locally from family-owned stores and local farmers to support your community;
  • Offer – in the name of your loved ones – to charity and causes you to know they support; nothing speaks better of the Christmas spirit than a card saying that a person sponsored the education of children, animal protection, empowerment for women, the building of social homes, disaster relief, and more.
  • Organize a Secret Santa type of gift offering in the family or your circle of friends to simplify things, have some fun, and save money, stress, and environmental burden.
  • If you have a particular skill, use it. Bake cakes for your loved ones, build them something, make a photo album for them, paint them something, and write them something, and so on. People appreciate a thousand times more a gift that comes from the heart and hands of a loved one.
  • Offer memories instead of gifts and make things easy and fun. Here is our guide on the best Christmas gifts for couples to get your inspiration going! Moreover, if we talk about the experience instead of objects, think about membership cards, tickets to events, travel tickets, shopping vouchers for some of their favorite stores, and so on.

Other sustainable gift ideas for this eco-friendly Christmas include:

  • handmade Christmas decorations (with holly, beeswax candles, pinecones, crafted wooden ornaments, and more).
  • Something you can make yourself, as we said above: knits, bakes, drawings and paintings, handmade jewelry, wooden coasters, and more.

Eco-Friendly Christmas Cards

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 There is no other way to say this but straightforwardly: go digital! You can personalize an e-card any way you like, and for every person you want. This way, you will save a handful of trees, not to mention that each of your colleagues and friends will get a personal and mindful card.

  • If for some reason you still want to send paper greeting cards, buy charity cards from a foundation or a social enterprise.
  • You can also pick cards and envelopes on recycled paper if you want to use paper;
  • Make your own Christmas cards from old gift bags or children’s drawings.

Eco-Friendly Lighting and Decoration

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 As you can easily imagine, energy consumption skyrockets during the Christmas holidays. When it comes to Christmas lighting and decorations, you can make some changes to save money and energy without chipping away at the Christmas spirit. Here are some ideas:

  • LED lights represent an excellent alternative for indoor and outdoor trees and decorations. While the initial investment is a bit higher than usual, LED lights are energy-efficient and durable, saving you money for years.
  • For indoor lights, use a timer. They can go on when you are at home and off when you leave the house or go to sleep;
  • Use sustainable Christmas decorations that do no break and look great year after year. Wood, cloth, scraps of paper, burlap, pinecones, fallen leaves, and more make excellent decorations.
  • If you go for plastic decorations, make sure you get Plastic 1 or 2, and you keep the items for years on a row to reduce their environmental impact.
  • Buy handcrafted decorations from charities, your local artisans and associations, and more. Besides achieving your eco-friendly Christmas goals, you can help others have great holidays as well.
  • For a touch of nature in your home Christmas décor, pick up pinecones, holly, fallen pine branches, nuts, and dry fruits and make strings and other decorations with their help.

Eco-Friendly Christmas Dinner

First and foremost, break up with plastic, even if it is easier to throw away disposable plastic cups, plates, and utensils than washing a ton of dishes. If you think about an eco-friendly Christmas to include cooking and having friends and family over dinner, here are some tips:

  • Christmas is all about mindfulness and connection to others. You can achieve such goals by supporting your local communities, farmers, artisans, and entrepreneurs by getting local, free-range, homemade, artisanal, and organic foods.
  • Use a carpool system when shopping for the Christmas dinner and supplies to save more energy and money;
  • Use glass bottles for your water, sodas, other beverages or alcoholic drinks instead of plastic PET bottles;
  • Buy fresh foods (meats, cheeses, vegetables, eggs, etc.) from your local market instead of supermarkets: they taste better, and you do not need to make it a goal from throwing away an immense quantity of plastic wraps and bags;
  • Always use jumbo canvas shopping tote bags when you shop for this Christmas. Plastic bags are a definite no-no, while canvas bags are reusable, stylish, and won’t break no matter how much food you buy;

  • In America (and all over the world, actually), we waste so much food; we could feed the other half of the planet that is starving. You can go two ways to put a stop to food waste and landfill overcrowding. Shop for food mindfully and considering that you do not eat as much as you imagine. The second way about it is to donate the extra-supplies to a local food bank, a charity, a soup kitchen in your town, and so on. Christmas is about sharing and thinking about others – so do not waste any more food, but offer yours to those less fortunate than you.
  • Make sure you compost all your food scraps and leftovers you cannot eat or send them to farms for animal food. This way you can reduce waste and even give your lawn a substantial boost in the spring.
  • Get recipes on how to use Christmas dinner leftovers for delicious snacks, dinners, or quick lunches. There are a bunch of chefs, culinary books, websites, and even apps promoting the use of leftovers as main ingredients for other dishes to reduce food waste.

Final Thoughts

Having an eco-friendly Christmas is not that hard, as you see. All it takes is mindfulness and a keen sense of what Christmas is: sharing, caring, charity, connection, and simplicity. You can gather your friends and family members at your place so everyone can contribute with something they made (handcrafted decorations or food), and spend a lovely Christmas together while keeping the environment in mind.

An eco-friendly Christmas also include your kids. Make sure the little ones understand the importance of keeping the planet we call home cleaner and safer. Responsibility comes within the family, so this year, have a merry eco-friendly Christmas and celebrate togetherness!

Written by Priscilla Greene — November 27, 2018

Best Christmas Gifts for Couples: Our top 10 Picks

We have so many people to think about around Christmas when it comes to gifts, that we should hurry and get each of them something memorable. But we also have many friends who are a couple. Instead of offering individual gifts, you should buy with the couple in mind. One of the best plans is to focus on their hobbies and the things they love to do together. Also, you should consider gifts for the home or gifts that offer them the chance of having a new experience together. Today, we will present you with our best Christmas gifts for couples, so you stay ahead of your presents’ shopping game this year!

1. Date Night Idea Box for Romantic Couples

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You can shop for this Date Night Idea Box for couples who keep the romantic spark bright. No matter their age, some couples love to share fun, magic, and whimsical moments. You can help them plan their next date night with this cute little idea box of wonders.

Of course, if you want to spice things up, you can turn this idea into a DIY project: pick a beautiful wooden or cardboard box, adorn it with crafty Christmas decorations, and fill it with notes you write yourself.

Offer your friends as many fun and inspiring date night ideas as you can muster from your imagination and make them the surprise of the year!

2. A Pair of Rolling Duffle Bags for Couples Sharing the Wanderlust

As we said above, focusing on a couple’s shared passions and hobbies is the best way to approach the winter season presents’ rush.

Some of the best Christmas gifts for couples who love to travel and have adventures together are stylish rolling duffle bags. They mix the comfort and space of duffle bags with the easiness of rolling suitcases.

Pick one for the couple or get each of your friends an individual rolling duffle bag. If you go for the pair, make sure they match. This gift works excellent not only for couples who love to spend time together while traveling but also for new couples getting ready for their honeymoon.

Married pairs will too adore such a gift – a reason more to stop postponing that getaway-in-two they have been planning for a long time.

If you want to spice things up, you can add a few accessories to such a wonderful gift for people you love:

• A pair of luxury personalized leather luggage tags;

• A couple of canvas zippered toiletry bags/travel kits, because a stylish bag needs an accompanying new cosmetic package.

• A travel album or travel agency’s brochure to help them pick their next adventure destination.

3. A Huge Goodie Christmas Bag for Sloths

Do you know those friends of yours who prefer spending the winter holidays under a thick blanket, binging on goodies and TV shows while refusing to go out of the house when it is cold? We all know such a couple. We call them “The Sloths” because they are lazy around all winter long, loving to spend time with each other in the comfort of their home.

You can surprise your favorite pair of couch potatoes by indulging their self-pampering winter addiction with one of the best Christmas gifts for couples in the whole world: the ultimate Sloth Bag!

Pick an extra-large jute Christmas stocking or a heavy Santa sack (if Santa feels generous with sloths this year) and fill it with all the goodies that will please your favorite couple and turn their special holiday together into a corner of Heaven:

• A luxurious box of handmade and crafted chocolates;

• A bottle of rich wine you know they love;

• A couple of scented candles to light up and spice up the atmosphere;

• A fuzzy fleece blanket for two so they can build their winter fort with it;

• A set of Christmas decorations for the home so they don’t have to go out to buy them themselves;

• A handful of nicely wrapped snacks, sweets, and delights they will munch during the holidays while enjoying peace, quiet, and each other;

• Batteries for the remote control.

You can tweak the content of the Christmas sock or sack depending on your friends’ tastes, wishes, hobbies, and guilty pleasures, but you get the idea: help your favorite couch potatoes enjoy a magical Christmas together!

4. Dinner for Two Cookbook

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Some couples have no idea how to cook, while other couples love to cook together. Either way, a cookbook featuring healthy, delicious, and perfectly portioned dinner for two recipes is one of the best Christmas gifts for couples this year.

They may enter an entirely new realm of culinary wonders or discover gastronomy secrets they did not know. Put the book in a nicely picked small burlap gift bag you can further personalize with a happy Christmas wish, the couples’ monogram, or other stylish decorations (look at this guide for inspiration) and throw in a Christmas card as well.

As an alternative, for couples loving to throw parties, buy them a cocktail recipe book instead of a cooking one. If everything goes according to your plot, you will enjoy those innovative cocktails soon enough!

5. Funky Board games for Geeks

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The young generation loves to play board games, tabletop games, video games, charades, and everything in between. When you are young and love to spend time with your friends, few things bring people together better and stronger than games do.

Luckily, in this department, your possibilities are endless. You can buy them a game they can play only together in the couple, but where is the fun in that?

• You can get them a board game inspired by a well-known pop culture or literary figure, trope, or story;

• You can get them a funny board game or card game to engage the whole bunch in a cooperative adventure or, on the contrary, in an intense conflict;

• You can go for the more formal side of thing and get your favorite couple an elegant chess set;

• You can go for the less serious side of things and explore games like Cards against Humanity or Exploding Kittens;

• Do we have to mention that your geek friends will love anything related to their fandom or gaming style?

When a person or a couple receives a game from its pack, they have to try it, test it, and see how things go. In other words, prepare for a fun winter holiday with your bunch of smart geeks playing the latest game some of you have received.

6. Light-Blocking Sleeping Masks for the Sleepless

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Do you know those couples who bicker about their havoc sleeping patterns? One wants to sleep while the other – the reading night owl – loves to spend the night with an awesome book, does it sound familiar? And sometimes things happen right the other way around?

To solve this couple issue this year, we recommend you to get them a pair of light-blocking sleeping masks. Some masks block light from all angles, allowing your friends to enjoy a good night’s sleep if they are the dynamic types that work a lot and get too little rest.

Moreover, you can get them some sound-blocking earmuffs for the winter weekends when they want to sleep in without a care in the world.

7. Books for the Bookworms

Did you know in some countries – such as Iceland for instance – gifting books for Christmas is a national sport? And did you know some people want nothing more for the winter holidays than sitting in their favorite armchair with a book and a cup of hot tea or cocoa?

If you have book warms among you, books are the best Christmas gifts for couples – and all people in general.

• Pick a beautiful Merry Christmas canvas tote bag;

• Go to your friends’ favorite bookstore and fill the bag with books you know they love and would like to read this season. From poetry to technical publications, and from fantasy novels to weird stories, the world of literature is yours and soon will be theirs too.

• Add a pair of seasonal bookmarks or, if you want to add a personal touch to the gift, create some crafty handmade bookmarks of your design and build.

• Do you want to spice things up for your reading aficionados? Insert a box of instant hot chocolate or gourmet cocoa powder so they can live the dream in the comfort of their home.

8. Event Tickets for the Ones with a Penchant for Culture

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We all have some couple in our group or family that loves a high-class Christmas. It means they always reserve tickets to the philharmonic, the opera, the theater, or Christmas concerts, galas, shows, art gallery exhibitions, and more.

Offer them the surprise of their life and buy such tickets for them. No matter if they are your parents or in-laws, your best friends, colleagues from work, or other couples you know and love, such gifts will always put a smile on their faces, mainly if they are into cultural events and happenings.

Well, some may want to attend a rock concert, so you should better hurry and check for available tickets this time of year!

9. Home for the Holidays Gift Basket for Gourmands

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In comparison to Sloths, who love to stay in for reading, chilling and TV binging, taking naps, and idling around, the Gourmands see the Christmas holidays as the perfect opportunity to indulge in the testing and tasting of delicacies. They are the people praising their family for lavish Christmas dinners and emptying the supermarkets of everything sweet.

• Consider specialty cheeses, sausages, and cured meats, cakes, chocolates, wine, foie gras, and other luxury spreads, crackers, and all possible types of snacks you know they love.

If you have to pick the best Christmas gifts for couples this year and you have culinary aficionados in the family or the gang, a gourmet basket with all the trimmings may be the best idea you had this season.

• Don’t forget to adorn the basket with Christmas decorations and fir branches, tinsel, and so on.

10. Memberships and Subscriptions for those with a Boredom Threat

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You can make some people very happy this year – and even contribute to the rekindling of their relationship – by offering the couple a membership or a class to learn/do something together.

Some couples have been together for so long, routines and everyday life menaces them with boredom, fixed patterns, and lack of joy. While this is normal, shaking off the rust and finding new quirky things to do together may help them rediscover each other and the pure joy of being together.

Other couples, while young, act like old married couples, succumbing to daily stress and habits. Put a stop to this madness by offering the couple a new path: the one of going together to a class or a club or doing something together.

Simply put, you can buy them all sorts of membership cards, subscriptions, and vouchers for some of these activities:

• Ballroom dance subscription – to remind your parents, perhaps, the fun they had back in their wild disco days;

• A gym and spa membership for two – as they both need to unwind, no matter their age;

• One year subscription to their neighborhood cinema for movie lovers; same goes for theatre, museums, opera, and so on;

• A full city-break tourist package to send them away in a quest for a romantic rediscovery;

• Book vouchers from their favorite bookstore to fill their lives with all the reading they want;

• Some extreme sports memberships – for the young couple willing to try something crazy and different but not having the time or the energy to follow such project;

• Arts and crafts lessons/photography class subscriptions for those who have tried most things and had art on their bucket list, and so on.

You get our point: offer your favorite couple or couples the chance of doing something new together – or something they love – with little investment from your part but with outstanding results for both of them! There are dozens of things for couples to do besides watching TV and you can help them discover them!

Final Thoughts

Finding the best Christmas gifts for couples this year is not hard. It will not ruin you either if you put your mind to it and allow your heart to take the wheel. Don't forget that no awesome gift is complete without gorgeous gift bags you can customize! We are always here to offer you the best ideas and the best gifts – and personalized to boot – for your most favorite people in the world

Written by Priscilla Greene — November 23, 2018

How to Decorate a Gift Bag this Christmas for Your Loved Ones

Christmas is right around the corner, and the gift rush is peaking this time of the year. However, while we are sure you already know what to get your loved ones this Christmas, we are also confident you want to make things truly special. For this reason, we gathered here today to offer you a myriad of ideas on how to decorate a gift bag this season.

While the gift matters a lot, the wrapping and the gift bag decorations are the ones boosting the holiday cheer and putting a smile on people’s faces. So here, you have our mix of tutorials, graphics, and gift bags decoration ideas to spice things up this year!

1. Monogrammed Tote Bags

One of the stress-free ways to surprise your loved ones this year is to use canvas tote bags instead of paper gift bags or other types of gift-wraps. Our favorite Christmas bags are the small messenger canvas tote bags with long straps – they make excellent gift bags and post-holiday casual street-wear bags for the young generation.

Our other favorite idea on how to decorate a gift bag for Christmas is monogramming the bag. You can choose an elegant embroidery/monogram font or letter, or make something on your own.

For a detailed guide on how to monogram a canvas bag, we invite you to watch the video tutorial above. Keep in mind that a monogrammed tote bag is a gift in and out of itself, as the receiver can wear it all year long.

2. Mindfully-Picked Christmas Stockings

Christmas stockings make one of the best, heartwarming, and jolly Christmas traditions. This year, you can up your ante regarding gift-wrapping and pick our two-toned jute Christmas socks that allow plenty of decorations.

They are reusable and generous with space so that you can fit in a sizeable gift for your loved ones. If you pick the deluxe version – jute-burlap Christmas stocking with interior cotton lining – you may also select some fancy gifts for your friends and family.

You can get your inspiration from our selection of corporate gifts, as they play more on the luxurious side of offering nice presents to beloved people.

3. Felt-Decorated Gift Jute Tote Bags

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When you have plenty of gifts to offer this year, and you want to embark on a DIY adventure (alone or together with the other family members), start by buying jute gift bags in bulk.

While you can pick red bags, we recommend you to choose the rustic and natural shade of burlap, as it allows more versatility in your decoration efforts.

A DIY jute bag decoration project involves the following resources:

• Colored felt pieces – think about green, red, white, and patterned felt scraps;

• Glue;

• Scissors;

• Buttons and beads;

• Thread and needle;

• Jolly Christmas music to keep you happy and boost your energy.

Cut the felt pieces any way you like: leaves, Christmas trees, Santa face or hat, snowman, and more. Add and glue the cuts to obtain various gorgeous decorations.

Use buttons and beads to finish your artworks and personalize the bags with felt letters to know what bag goes to what person. The world is yours as long as you allow your imagination to run wild.

4. Printed Tote Bags

Pinterest

Sometimes you do not afford to spend the time or the energy to decorate each gift bag for each you want to surprise with a thoughtful Christmas gift. On the other hand, you do want to go the full ten yards and present a fantastic gift bag.

If you want to acquire the art of how to decorate a gift bag fast, easy, and with a small budget, you can always contact us for our embroidery and screen printing services.

The most efficient and fun way to embellish and personalize this year’s gift bags is buying white high-quality canvas tote bags and print them with a happy holiday wish, a cute message, a logo even, an image, and so on.

This way, you can have a handful of custom designed and printed tote bags to fill in with the most exquisite Christmas gifts for friends and family.

5. Painted Canvas Tote Bags

Those having the time and skill to paint, personalize, and design this years’ bulk of gift canvas tote bags can follow this great tutorial on colorful textile spraying.

We love this technique of decorating canvas and cotton gift tote bags with contrast handles because depending on the design, these tote bags can turn into peoples’ go-to street purses and shopping bags all year long. After all, what can be nicer than wearing a cute and whimsical winter tote bag in mid-summer to turn all heads?

Follow the video tutorial and get your inspiration going! More than how to decorate a gift bag, this video guide gives you plenty of ideas on arts, crafts, and tote bag decorations for many other occasions, celebrations, and holidays!

6. Decorated Jute/Canvas Wine Bags

Pinterest

Usually, Christmas gifts include plenty of wine bottles. But if you want to stand out of the crowd and memorably give the gift of wine, go for personalized wine bags. A cotton-jute wine bag with natural jute drawstrings is a gift bag worthy of praise in and out of itself.

However, since many people receive wine bottles during the winter holiday season (with some bag, wrap, or box), you want yours to make a long-lasting impression. For this reason, you should go for embroidered or printed wine bags.

Buy some in bulk, ask for an embroidery service to give you a hand and turn your ideas into a sweet, fun, whimsical, and heartwarming reality.

BONUS: Acrylic Painted Canvas Bags

Those with a penchant for art and artistic skills can step up their game and paint their monochrome canvas tote bags. We have a video tutorial for you teaching you how to decorate a gift bag and turn it into a fashionable all-year accessory.

While the bag in the video is black, you can summon the holiday cheer by picking a red medium canvas tote bag and start from there with your painting project. Of course, a Christmas-centric gift bag usually sports red, green, white, or rustic burlap nuances.

However, depending on the people you want to offer gifts this year, you can switch to more vivid colors and surrealist Picasso-style artwork.

Conclusion

We hope you enjoyed our ideas on how to decorate a gift bag this year to make your gifts memorable and the bags reusable. If you have other suggestions or tutorials for us, feel free to use the comment section below to share them with our community!

Written by Priscilla Greene — November 20, 2018

Next Year Predictions: Top 7 Best Weekender Bag for Men in 2019

We all know men love to be efficient, pack lightly, and move swiftly when they travel. As fashion trends go, next year we will see more bag types trying to rise to the requests and desires of a new generation of active urban travelers. But what bags can satisfy the requirements of comfort, efficiency, style, and mobility of young men next year? We have some predictions for you to help you stay ahead and ride the trend properly. Let’s see our top best weekender bag for men in 2019 – bags so fit, and versatile men will use them for many of their adventures!

1. Two-Tone Polyester Medium Duffel Bag in Vivid Colors

The classic medium duffel bag will never disappoint a man who loves to carry a ready-to-go weekender bag just in case adventure presents itself. Whether they jump a plane for a city break, take his friends on a road trip, or visit his family for the holidays, a man will always find the space, practicality, and style he looks for in a 21x10 inch duffle bag with plenty of storage room for clothes and gear.

With its polyester and heavy vinyl backing, the bag takes a golden medal for durability and resilience to wear, tear, and the elements.

2. The D-shaped Honeycomb Duffel Bags

For those who want to carry their gym gear during the week and their clothes and accessories for a romantic weekend, the D-shaped honeycomb duffel bag is a perfect choice. Due to its shape, size, and durable fabric, this bag can take a beating – you can use it for your weekend trips, business trips, and plane long rides in case your wanderlust sends you to foreign realms.

This best weekender bag for men features an end grab handle, a detachable shoulder strap, a front zippered pocket and a D-shaped zippered entry for smooth and slick access to your belongings, valuables, and gadgets on the go, in the car, in between planes, and so on.

3. The Wheeled Digital Camo Duffel Bag

When it comes to longer rides, nothing beats the wheeled camo print duffel bag, the best hybrid between roller luggage and your favorite sports bag. Think about this bag beyond weekend trips with your partner or friends. It is an incredible addition to your business travel or freelance traveling gear. The digital camo print will make you stand out of the crowd – as digital camo is one of the trendiest patterns to feature in 2019.

What makes this the best weekender bag for men for next year? Count the unique combination of durability and fashion, the stylish digital camouflage print, the skate wheels offering you mobility and comfort while rolling on the floor and the ample space in the main compartment to keep your belongings represent the answer to the above question.

4. The Luxury Wheeled Briefcase

Some men love to let their wild and sporty side on display, while others enjoy to spice their travels up with a luxurious wheeled briefcase in a manly, classic black. This bag will find its place in the trunk of your car whenever you want to spend some time out of town, but it makes the perfect companion of young urban professionals flying planes for regular business trips. If you are a freelancer meeting a client, an executive flying to sign some deals, or just a hip urban dweller aiming to spend a perfect weekend with his loved one, this bag is for you!

What makes this work of art the best weekender bag for men is its structure. You have file dividers, a padded tablet and laptop sleeves, and two large main compartments for two days’ worth of clothes, shoes, and accessories. The easy access front stash zippered pocket allows you to store your airline tickets, passport, phone, keys, and plane book within fast reach.

5. The Tri-Color Cool Large Drawstring Bag

As we said, the sporty and efficient side of men shows up when they have to pack fast and leave out the door in matters of minutes. Do you need only a change of clothes, some accessories, and phone, camera, and car keys for the weekend? Nothing easier! You can grab the tri-color cool large drawstring bag and be on your way!

It is a comfortable bag with enhanced durability. It takes wear, tear, and the elements well, it holds your belongings safe, and it allows full freedom of arms and movement. Perfect for visiting a new city, spending the night at someone else’s house, or taking a weekend’s trip by yourself somewhere to clear your head.

6. The All-in-One Urban Backpack with Laptop Sleeve

Our young generation of urban young men prefers having and carrying with them all their necessary items. This category includes, naturally, the laptop and other gadgets. Since one cannot spend a weekend far from home without clothes, accessories, grooming products, and a handful of other items, one needs a heavy, sturdy, and reliable backpack to host them all.

In other words, whenever you want to travel, and you need to make sure you do not miss anything, the all-in-one urban backpack with laptop compartment is the best weekender bag for men. It accommodates anything inside, and then some while allowing you fast and slick mobility, freedom, and easy access to your most essential belongings (plane tickets, tablet, phone, personal documents, snacks, and more).

7. Cool Cyber Backpack

Are you a cyber fanatic that cannot spend time far from his beloved gadgets? You might upset your family for visiting them and having your laptop, e-reader, tablet, and phone with you, but we understand. The young generation of tech savvy men needs their gear with them, even if they do not use gadgets every minute of every vacation day. In this case, you may need the cool cyber backpack.

Resilient to wear, tear, and weather, the backpack will accompany you on all your leisure or business trips. It features a large main compartment for storage, a separate padded laptop/tablet sleeve, and padded shoulder straps and back, channeled for ventilation. Comfortable and efficient travel at its best, we might say. Presenting itself with an 18x12 inches diameter, it provides you with plenty of space to store all your essentials as well.

Final Thoughts

What is the best weekender bag for men in your opinion? Do you like to feel free when you travel, thus preferring for a sizeable sturdy backpack or lightweight drawstring bag? Or do you love the spacious comfort and slick mobility offered by wheeled duffle bags? Share your thoughts in the comments section and don’t forget to tell us which is your most favorite travel bag type!

Written by Priscilla Greene — November 16, 2018

Have a Stylish Winter Holiday: Top 5 Best Tote Bags for Travel

Whether you plan a city break during the winter holidays or a trip to your family’s house for Christmas, you know you have to take a comfortable travel bag with you. You need a bag allowing you to travel light but not miss anything for your holiday, a bag that looks stylish anywhere you go, matches your personal style, and works as a purse, to boot. You need a bag that finds its way into airplanes, buses or trains and offers easy access when you keep it on the passenger’s seat of your car. In other words, today we will present you with our top 5 best tote bags for travel!

1. Large Improved Polyester Tote Bag

This exquisite improved polyester tote bag is the perfect choice for women who love to pack lightly, get in the car, and go on an adventure. You can pick such a tote in the color that suits your fancy. Pack anything you need for a weekend’s trip or a city break without worrying about wear, tear, or weather.

Polyester is the perfect winter fabric, as it resists well against the elements. Moreover, this tote bag is sturdy, becoming the most reliable traveling partner. With its large main compartment and the small interior side pockets, this stylish purse becomes one of the best tote bags for travel.

2. Polyester Beach Tote Bag with Zipper

Do you know what the perfect destination is for a winter holiday together with your loved one, your friends, or your family? An exotic resort where you can enjoy the beach, sun, blue warm swimming waters, and a fancy cocktail. If you are the type of person enjoying summer when everyone else welcomes December’s snow with open arms, this polyester zippered tote bag is a perfect choice this year.

The bag works wonders as a travel bag through and through, as you can take it in the airplane with no problems. Moreover, once you are at the destination, the bag becomes multifunctional: it can serve you like a beach bag, like a purse for city walks and discoveries, and it can even become the entire family’s go to goodie or shopping bag while on vacation.

3. The Large Digi Camo Poly Tote Bag with Zipper

Do you remember we focused on camo prints quite a lot this year? We did it for all the good reasons! Camo tote bags are all the rage right now, as this particular type of print made its way on runways and fashion shows. You can mix and match camo prints with anything, really, and wear the pattern like a rock star!

Moreover, a large the camo poly tote bag with zipper is going to make you stand out of the crowd for a great number of reasons. First, the digital camo print replaced the traditional one, marking the tastes of the young generation – the digitally savvy one with an urban fashion sense and a no-nonsense attitude.

Secondly, this bag, in particular, is perfect for your winter travels. It matches any outfit and it accommodates all your belongings, no matter how short or long a trip you plan. The side pocket gives you full access to your airplane ticket, passport, keys, phone, etc., while the main compartment is large enough to carry your holiday gear. Unpack it at the hotel or your family’s home and wear it as a purse downtown, you will look smashing!

4. Heavy Canvas Zippered Tote Bag

If you prefer the eco-friendly side of the best tote bags for travel this winter, you can pick up your heavy canvas zippered tote bag and board the plane towards a sunny destination. The bag features a handy zippered side pocket to keep your plane tickets and passport, accessories, keys, and other belongings you need to reach quickly.

Nevertheless, the large and generous main zippered compartment takes the cake. It can accommodate a city break’s worth of clothing and accessories, while the front pocket is ideal for your wallet, phone, and travel leaflets while you are at your destination.

Wear the bag as a weekender or airplane handbag and as a purse while you discover a new warm city or resort. You can also pick your favorite color combination matching your personal style. One of the best tote bags for travel, this one is versatile, elegant, and extremely practical.

5. Fashion Jute Best Tote Bags for Travel

When you want to make an elegant appearance head to toe, no matter where you travel this winter, this large fashion jute tote bag is the way to go.

Jute is the epitome of sustainability, as natural fabrics go, so you can display more than your personal style – you can make a powerful statement on ethical fashion. As a travel bag, this particular one comes with a handful of advantages. It is a heavy-duty two-colored burlap bag blending in the best of both jute and cotton. In other words, the bags gives an edge to both fabrics, thus becoming a staple of sturdiness, durability, and smooth touching.

However, when we travel and pick a holiday bag, we want comfort, versatility, and space. Don’t you worry – this bag has them all. The main compartment is incredibly spacious, accommodating all your belongings. Granted, its design makes it less preferable for plane flights, but it compensates by being the most elegant travel bag for the car, bus, or train rides.

While at the destination, you can wear it as an exquisite purse or handbag, especially if you prefer being in a warm place in winter. As a matter of fact, you can get your inspiration from our guide on how to wear summer tote bags!

Final Thoughts

When it comes to picking the best tote bags for travel, you need to consider your means of transport and your destination. If it is still winter where you go, the best choice is probably a polyester large tote bag, able to keep its grounds in the face of wet weather conditions.

On the other hand, if your choice of destination is a dry climate or even an exotic summery place, you can rely on your canvas and jute tote bags.

Make sure that you pick sturdy bags, with strong handles and reinforcements. Moreover, for plane flights (trains and cars as well), it is better to opt for a zippered tote bag with pockets, just to make sure everything is safe and you have easy access to the crucial items you need while travelling.

Apart from these recommendations, we can only wish you stylish and happy trips with any of our best tote bags for travel this winter!

Written by Priscilla Greene — November 12, 2018

16 Ways to Be More Environmentally Friendly

Our planet is home to more than 7.5 billion people and counting, and more than 325 million of them live in the United States. With so many people sharing limited resources, it’s important that each person do what he or she can to help conserve and protect the environment.

Though it’s possible to feel helpless when contemplating the vanishing rainforests, melting polar ice caps and disappearing ozone layer, the combined positive environmental actions of the population can and do make a difference. All it takes to get started on going green is a few ideas on how to be environmentally friendly.

Each of us has so many opportunities and ways to be environmentally friendly. Whether you’re already living an eco-friendly lifestyle or not, here are 20 eco-friendly living tips broken up into four main topics: Food; Water; Energy; and Recycle, Reduce, Reuse.

Food

  • Plan Your Meals
  • Planning your meals out before a trip to the grocery store has many benefits. For one, you only buy the food you need, meaning you save time and money. Instead of making several trips to the grocery store each week for last-minute ingredients and whatever products catch your eye, you’ll have everything you need. You’re also much less likely to waste food that you don’t have enough time to eat before it goes bad. As an added bonus, you can better balance what you’re eating to make sure you and your family are meeting your nutritional needs.

  • Shop Local
  • When you shop from places that feature local products, particularly food at farmers markets, the things you buy haven’t had to be shipped far to get to you, meaning less use of fossil fuel and less environmental harm.

  • Eat Less Meat
  • The meat industry has an environment impact on several facets of the environment, including deforestation, water use, pollution and greenhouse gases. Adding alternative food, such as more eco-friendly protein sources, to your diet — beans, nuts, and soy products are a few options — while removing some of the red meat can make a difference.

    Water

    canvas tote at the beach

  • Conserve Water
  • There are so many ways to conserve water! A big one is to go green on getting clean. The majority of water use in the home takes place in the bathroom. Ideas to save on water in the bathroom include taking shorter showers, turning off the water while brushing teeth or lathering up, and installing water-saving toilets and shower heads (more on that later). 

    Written by Tote Bag Factory — November 08, 2018

    Ethical Issues in Fashion: Eco Friendly Fabrics, Sustainability & More

    With the advent of social media and news outlets reaching the most remote corners of the world, the ethical issues of the fashion industry are no longer mysteries or theories. On the contrary, as of late, many are advocating for ethical fashion as opposed to fast fashion. Moreover, those concerned for the environment, human rights, and social ethics are also supporting eco friendly fabrics in the detriment of the ubiquitous plastic that seems to eradicate life as we know it.

    Today, we will touch some very ardent issues regarding ethical fashion, human rights, sustainable practices, eco friendly fabrics and a new perspective on a style that we should all embrace more.

    Ethical Fashion and its Key-Issues

    By ethical fashion, experts coin the entire process of plant cultivation/fabric production, transportation, design, production, retail, and purchasing of clothing and accessories. It is an umbrella term, covering anything from working conditions and workers’ wages to sustainable production and exploitation, human rights, the environment, animal warfare, and fair trade practices.

    Here are some of the direst problems the current of ethical fashion and the rise of eco friendly fabrics try to solve on a global scale:

    Exploitative labor

    It is related to the farming of certain crops, exploitative working conditions (in the factories making cheap, serialized clothes), and human rights violations.

    Despite international standards, many ethical fashion advocates warn that in some parts of the world (with Bangladesh being in the limelight these days) people work in seriously dangerous conditions, lacking the benefit of health and safety measures.

    Moreover, farmers, producers, factory/supply chain workers in the fashion industry also face inhuman working schedules, forced overtime, denial of working rights, exhaustion, sexual or racial harassment, denial or lack of fundamental human rights. If you think remote places such as Bangladesh are facing such issues, you should also consider Western nations such as the U.K. or the U.S.

    Forced labor

    Even if we do not want to think about it, slavery still exists. According to the  Global Slavery Index of 2014, around 36 million people were living in a type of modern slavery, many of them being part of fashion brands and retailers’ supply chains. Countries such as Argentina, China, India, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Bangladesh, and the Philippines are “of risk” regarding forced and child labor and human rights violations.

    Child laborers are often the victims of violence and abuse; they also face unsanitary working conditions, improper nutrition, and abysmal wages. The cheaper the clothes you buy, the less these children make or eat.

    Environmental Damage

    This world has reached that point where we genetically engineer and chemically treat plantations to yield more and more crops, faster and faster. The use of hazardous chemicals (for crop fertilization, weed, and pest control), the overproduction of waste, and the damage we cause the environment to manufacture, transport, and sell fashion are taking a severe toll on our environment.

    The focus eco friendly fabrics and ethical fashion practices are mandatory. We all know that cotton represents the majority of the world’s used cloth.

    However, pushing its growing practices also increases the world’s consumption of insecticides and pesticides (chemicals that can harm – in a cascade – wildlife, insects, other crops, and the farmers who grow it).

    The textile practices we employ today can easily fall under the “unsustainable” label because they cause direct damage to the environment. The vast quantities of water the industry requires to produce and dye cotton, for instance, led to the shrinking in seawater volumes.

    Industrial Processing

    We rarely wear the textiles as we get them from a factory. The industry uses plenty of chemicals and industrial processes to soften and dye fabrics. Experts warn that many of these chemicals can harm the people wearing treated clothes and accessories. Among the most dangerous substances used in the fashion industry, we can count lead, nickel, and formaldehyde.

    Toxic Waste

    Our high street fashion – cheap clothes and accessories, those of low quality in particular – are subject to waste. In other words, many of our garments end up in landfills. In other words, the fast fashion creates waste that the world cannot handle. While charities and NGOs encourage people to donate clothes and thus limit the waste while helping developing nations, it seems we find it more comfortable to throw away millions of tons of clothes and accessories each year, without wondering what happens to them.

    Animal Cruelty

    A long and robust problem in the fashion world, we all still have to tackle animal cruelty and prevent the further harm we pose to wildlife as we use animals to wear. Some fashion designers, such as Stella McCartney does not use fur or leather in her creations, encouraging people to take stock of the animals the fashion industry farms exclusively to supply runway show materials. However, as she stated not so long ago, the industry’s and the consumers’ mindsets are changing, and we may see a better world soon enough.

    Consumers’ Behavior

    Unfortunately, consumers know little about the issues at hand when it comes to ethical fashion. Sometimes, unwillingly, they can participate in the escalation of such problems. We are all happy to buy cheap clothes, but have you stopped to wonder what the price reflects?

    Even canceling an order may cause troubles in the supply chain:

    • Workers may have to work overtime without getting paid;
    • Workers may face unrealistic demands to deliver changed purchase parameters or adapt fast to newer customers’ requests;
    • The supplier may cut plenty of corners (many of them relying on interfering with people’s lives or wages) to keep providing you with cheap clothes, etc.

    Mindful shopping is the way to go in the future. In fact, according to some recent surveys, the young generation shows an increased interest in brands adopting ethical fashion principles, using eco friendly fabrics and showing transparency and humanity in their industrial and commercial practices.

    Eco Friendly Fabrics: The Future is Here

    When it comes to ethical fashion, it seems that some of the most concerning issues stem from the textiles we farm to wear as clothes and accessories. While we have talked about sustainable materials before, a quick reminder does not hurt. Today, we will go through some of the most eco friendly fabrics we can wear, with an emphasis on innovative textiles that can change the face of fashion shortly.

    1. Bamboo

    It is a renewable natural resource. This grass needs few chemicals to grow. It is hardy and features antibacterial properties. After processing, it delivers a breathable, plush, and biodegradable fabric. Today, we use bamboo fibers to make home-based items, such as high-end towels and bathrobes. However, bamboo is a versatile textile, and it can go into a myriad of fashionable clothes, accessories, and even footwear.

    2. Hemp

    The infamous hemp plant got a bad reputation, but in truth, nations all over the world use the industrial hemp for a handful of purposes. They use it to produce fabrics, food, constructions, natural beauty products, medical products, and more.

    In its fabric shape, hemp is highly breathable and comes with antibacterial properties. Today, the fashion industry uses it due to its warm and moisture wicking properties. Besides the fact that you can easily blend it in superior fabrics, hemp itself is extremely durable. Moreover, it becomes softer and smoother as you wear and wash it. At the end of its life, it is also biodegradable.

    From a sustainability perspective, hemp is a fierce competitor to jute (we will discuss in a minute). It does not need a lot of water or chemicals to thrive, and it yields more prosperous crops per acre than cotton. Instead of depleting the soil of nutrients, it replenishes it. Some big brands are now introducing hemp in their collections, making a denim-like fabric work very well as jeans and overalls, travel bags, and jackets.

    3. Jute

    We already know that the fashion industry – especially the accessories’ department – is in love with jute. The burlap/jute fashion office bags and JuCo street totes are anything but new IT bags these days.

    But is jute sustainable? Indeed it is! A while ago, we highlighted the crucial aspects of jute as one of the best environmentally friendly fabrics in the world, but for those who missed that article, here are some things you should not forget:

    • Jute is a breathable and resilient material, able to handle weather conditions, wear, tear, transport, and more with no problems;
    • Just like hemp, it is a renewable textile, aiding the soil health and not depleting it from its nutrients;
    • Besides increasing soil’s fertility, jute needs little irrigation or chemical processing;
    • It is biodegradable and has a wooden core we could further exploit instead of cutting trees.

    Jute is a slightly rough, rustic material. For this reason, we use it more for tote bags and gift bags, but historically speaking, people can wear jackets and clothes made of jute or blends of cotton and jute.

    4. Linen

    Linen comes from flax, and it has become the ethical fashion’s staple and poster boy as of late. It is a durable, versatile, breathable, fresh, and antimicrobial fabric. It is also resilient to moths. Lightweight and absorbent, it made its way into our wardrobes and home cabinets as well. Besides being biodegradable, it also requires little water, fertilizers, or pesticides to grow and yield bountiful crops.

    5. Cotton and Canvas

    There is no doubt that cotton and canvas are the fashion industry’s long-term relationships. Cotton and canvas come with their fair share of sustainability issues, but fortunately, we can tackle them all efficiently. In the accessories department, we all know that cotton, canvas, and jute make the most sustainable tote bags, purses, office or school bags.

    Organic cotton is all the rage right now and for all the right reasons. While it can be more expensive, remember we urged you to consider the meaning of a higher price. Usually, it means that ethical fashion principles are in motion, people receive humane treatment and good wages, and the environment suffers a lot less.

    Cotton and canvas will never go out of fashion. What it is important to notice is this field is the rising concern for the increased use of natural and healthy fibers in the making of clothing and accessories. After all, reusable cotton grocery bags (together with cotton ones) represent one of the first and most comfortable steps you can take to reduce the consumption of plastic in your life.

    6. Recycled polyester

    The world dreads polyester, but many companies are trying to solve some issues related to it. One trend is the use of recycled polyester in fashion and accessories items – it has a 75% lower carbon footprint than virgin polyester. Nevertheless, recycled polyester presents itself with a difficult problem: it contains antimony, which is toxic. Luckily, some brands are working on new technological processes to remove the antimony from their fabrics.

    7. Polypropylene

    This fabric comes with its controversy luggage. A type of polymer resin, this plastic fiber should not, at first glance, appear on a list of eco friendly fabrics or become a topic of ethical fashion practices. However, as we said on other occasions, polypropylene has plenty of uses in a vast number of fields, including fashion.

    The truth is, polypropylene is more sustainable than its other plastic brethren are, it is safer and cheaper to produce, and since it comes with high degrees of re-usability, it compensates easily for its environmental impact. Non-woven polypropylene is a dear friend to the accessories’ industry: the non-woven poly tote bags (and other items) are resilient to wear, tear, weather, heavy loads, and more.

    The Eco Friendly Fabrics of Tomorrow

    We cannot know for sure whether the fashion industry will adopt these innovative fabrics shortly, but we must present them to you as novelty ideas and technologies. Moving away from resource-intensive crops and embracing ethical fashion principles and practices means looking with a fresh eye at fabric alternatives. Here are three of them we found most exciting:

    • Pinatex: it represents the leftover leaves from pineapple trees, turned into a non-woven textile that simulates leather’s properties and features. The fabric works best for footwear, accessories, and even clothes. It is biodegradable and consumes almost no resources since it comes from pineapple fallen leaves.
    • Eucalyptus Yarn: this is lyocell fabric in a deconstructed form; the yarn comes from eucalyptus trees’ fibers. It may very well be the next best replacement for yarns, wool, and other knittable fabrics.
    • Cafe: a fabric made of coffee grinds? Yes, please! Big brands like North Face, Puma, and Timberland, started using this recycled coffee grinds fiber in their collections, and everything seems to work just fine. Since it is more eco friendly to turn coffee grinds into threads, it seems they can make the next best thing in the ethical fashion world!

    Final Thoughts

    We have to process a lot when it comes to ethical fashion issues and eco friendly fabrics. However, mindful shopping and fashion-centric education will take us all a step closer to achieving beauty and practicality without harming people or the environment in the process. What else do you know about eco friendly fabrics, innovative textile technologies, and social issues related to fashion?

    Written by Priscilla Greene — October 31, 2018

    12 Best Corporate Christmas Gift Ideas for Partners and Employees

    The time has come to think about this year’s best corporate Christmas gift ideas you can implement to surprise your employees, business partners, suppliers, executive associates, and clients. You know we love offering suggestions about presents, and today we will not fall short, we promise.

    Before we begin, we have to offer you a quick guideline on how to pick the best corporate Christmas gifts:

    • You will probably have to crunch big numbers, so it is better to look for wholesale and bulk offers on items that go well for both women and men, regardless their age or their business relationship with you;
    • Same goes for packaging – the more significant the amount, the bigger the discounts you will receive;
    • Make sure you do not invest in highly perishable goods and items – if you have to send some gifts in other cities in winter, you need to consider all unfortunate events (lousy weather, suffocated transport services, slow traffic, etc.). In other words, pick gifts that will be as nice at the destination as you sent them in the first place;
    • Even if you have to build your gifting strategy around the idea of larger groups, do not follow the “one size fits all” rule. While it is a nice gesture to offer everybody calendars, keychains, and notebooks with your printed logo, you still have to be original, thoughtful, and personal about these gifts. How many calendars do you think a person uses in a year?

    Now that we laid the foundation let’s see together X best corporate Christmas gift ideas to put a smile on peoples’ faces and help them celebrate the most beautiful time of the year in style!

    1. Burlap Christmas Socks filled with Goodies

    • This gift works best for people close to you: employee, collaborators, suppliers, shareholders, etc.

    Get a stock of burlap medium-sized Christmas socks and fill them with artisanal chocolates, gourmet cookies, salty snacks, cinnamon-based delights, and so on. Up your ante this year and shop locally. In this way, you will support your local community of entrepreneurs and promote their crafty products in your network.

    Christmas socks (monochrome or in bi-color designs) make whimsical and fun Christmas gift-wrapping and packaging. Think about what you want to offer your people this year and fill the socks accordingly. Depending on the presents you want to buy, you can pick from a large assortment of Christmas socks.

    The best part is that you can always take things up a notch and personalize the socks with the receiver’s monogram, a Christmas wish, or your company’s logo.

    2. Santa Sacks filled with Books and Sweets

    • This gift is a thoughtful suggestion if you want to bring a splash of entertainment to the Christmas gift or you want to send some presents to your employees’ children at home.

    Santa Christmas sacks are yet another fantastic wrapping idea for corporate Christmas gifts, especially since you can also customize them with wishes, fun messages, your brand logo, and other Christmas embroideries.

    This time of the year, many bookshops and publishing houses offer great season-centric titles (especially for kids and teenagers) and hard-to-refuse discounts. Seize the opportunity, fill the sacks with delicious seasonal sweets, books, and a greeting card, and make sure everyone enjoys the surprise!

    3. High-end Wine in Personalized Wine Bags

    • A bottle of old, excellent, brand wine is one of the best corporate Christmas gift ideas if you want to impress business executives of all genders, business partners, suppliers, and those top-level people you are grateful to for yet another successful year.

    Luckily, specialized wine shops and distributors have excellent offers and discounts during the season, as everybody enjoys good wine at the Christmas dinner table. Make a long-lasting impression and get your hands on a stack of distinguished cotton muslin wine bags. Personalize each container with the name of the receiver, your logo, a thoughtful holiday wish or message, and so on. Find the printing or embroidery services that match your needs and make everyone a delightful surprise!

    4. Executive Unisex Laptop Bags

    • If you want to offer useful, well-thought and unforgettable gifts this year without having to run through the motions of buying gender-specific items for your business partners, then unisex laptop bags are the way to go.

    In case you did not know, unisex laptop bags are all the rage right now, mainly if you work with young digital-savvy employees, collaborators, and business partners. Your young urban professionals will always appreciate a new laptop bag with all the trimmings. Companies that follow fashion trends know how to select their corporate gifts. If you show an inclination towards such practices, check out our guide on the best 2018 fall-winter bag trends, you may get some fresh ideas!

    5. Tickets to Awesome Events

    • Such gifts work perfectly for people whose tastes, preoccupations, and Christmas traditions you know (or you can learn about easily).

    Do you know how everybody around you talks about Christmas Philharmonic concerts, opera, music concerts, gallery openings, movie premiers, and all sorts of fun stuff? Why shouldn’t you surprise your colleagues and collaborators with event tickets they want to attend in this period?

    Pick some natural muslin favor bags, place the ticket inside, add a thoughtful Christmas greeting card and you are all set and done! The receivers will be delighted!

    Check the calendars, ask around, learn what people want to attend, and act accordingly!

    6. A Tote Bag full of Exotic Delights

    • Some companies want to spoil their employees, clients, and business partners by offering them a “remote” travel experience and adventure. Join the trend and provide a spicy, flavorful Christmas to everyone!

    One of the easiest ways to accomplish such goals is to buy some customizable canvas tote bags and fill them up with exotic scents: buy specialty teas and coffees, little jars of spices and herbs, artisanal flavored honey and spreads, scented olive oils, etc.

    You can fill colored mini canvas bags with all sorts of delish samples, cute bags, jars, and boxes speaking of worldwide scents and tastes. Such items are not perishable, so you can send them at more considerable distances in cities where you want to surprise collaborators, shareholders, and select clients.

    7. Gift Cards and Vouchers

    • Many people do not need much to feel happy or appreciated. For some people, who seem to have it all, it is hard to buy gifts. For such categories of people – usually, corporate employees – vouchers, discount cards, and gift cards make the best thing ever!

    During this time of the year, many companies – probably just like your own – offer corporate gift cards, discounts, vouchers, and plenty of shopping opportunities. Such cards make the best corporate Christmas gift ideas as they offer the receiver the freedom of choice. Many do not use the vouchers for themselves, but to buy presents for their families and friends. Such cards have a long lifespan, you can make them nominal, and you can set their discount or gratuity value, and more. Here are some ideas:

    • Bookshops in your area;
    • Games, toys, and board games stores;
    • Gourmet and specialty food stores (coffee brewers, tea importers, artisanal sweets, handmade delicacies, organic and bio foods and drinks, and so on);
    • Luxury restaurants;
    • Online shops – for anything from clothes to cars;
    • Electronics/gadget stores;
    • Spas and wellness centers, etc.

    It is also an excellent opportunity to support your local community, create new business relations, make new friends among entrepreneurs and companies, and promote the products or services you trust and like inside your network.

    8. Personalized Wheeled Travel Duffle Bags

    • Pick such gifts for employees, collaborators, particular associates and clients, and business executives. Quality wheeled duffle bags make excellent corporate Christmas gift ideas because everyone thinks about some city breaks and ski trips during the winter holidays.

    Such stylish duffle bags make an exciting pick because they are also convenient for you as a company: you can buy them in bulk, enjoying terrific discounts; you can personalize them with your logo or a motto, and they come in handy to anyone, no matter their gender or relationship with your company.

    As an alternative, if you spend your working hours and business days among young, dynamic, urban professionals, you can stir your gifting ideas towards urban backpacks. Equally comfortable, stylish, and unisex as the travel duffel bags, the packs are versatile (perfect for both daily in-city/commute work and quick travels) and matching any personal fashion style.

    You cannot go wrong with sturdy, comfortable backpacks for young professionals who seem always to be going somewhere for pleasure or business.

    9. Luxury Travel Kits for Her and Him

    • Speaking of winter holidays, your company can stand out of the crowd and get luxury travel kits for women and men. You can thus surprise and spoil your business associates, colleagues, employees, collaborators, and so on.

    Travel kits can contain a myriad of self-care products. They come in sizeable bottles (the airplane-approved kind), are versatile regarding contents, fragrances, and usability, are practical and can satisfy even the most sophisticated of tastes.

    Pump up the volume and spoil the ladies with luxury cosmetics and travel products packed in a cute polka dot deluxe toiletry bag and the gentlemen with a slick dual-compartment toiletry bag.

    10. Christmas Special Decorations

    • In the corporate world, hard-working professionals barely have the time to buy the Christmas tree and decorations. Give them a helping hand this year and surprise your employees/partners – and their families – with a large assortment of Christmas decorations.

    No matter what you buy, make sure they come in a red large Santa Sack with shoulder strap. They can use it at home as a Santa sack or, during the year, as a handy laundry bag. For practicality purposes, print the Santa sacks with a happy Christmas message or motto, greetings, a few poem verses, and so on.

    For a warm and delightful Christmas, fill the sacks with Christmas lights and balls, wreaths, decorations, candle sets, all sorts of fun seasonal ornaments, greeting cards, colored tinsel strings and so on. Fun, enjoyable, versatile, and sweet, such gifts work for everybody, independently of gender or age.  

    11. The Gift of Health

    • Let’s face it: the corporate world is challenging and demanding. Everyone needs to care for their health and well-being. You can encourage people and help them feel great, stay in shape, and live life to the fullest. After all, healthy and happy co-workers are the most valuable assets in your company!

    The gift of health can include anything you can think of – or almost anything. Here are some suggestions:

    • One of those new-age smartwatches that track a person’s health and healthy behaviors;
    • Membership to a local gym – or one close to your company’s headquarters;
    • A bunch of DVDs containing meditation courses or yoga classes for relaxation and back pain relief;
    • A bunch of books on mindful meditation, stress and anxiety relief, healthy nutrition, etc.
    • Sleep gadgets to help people get the rest they deserve;
    • Other membership certificates: local spa and wellness center, sports course, etc.

    Pack these small tokens of health in a two-tone sports duffel bag and encourage your co-workers to mind their physical health, soul, and spirit!

    12. Premium Learning Experiences

    What better corporate Christmas gift ideas to implement than the gift of learning, of evolving? You probably heard your colleagues speaking about their hobbies, passions, intentions to learn new skills. Why wouldn’t you meet their needs and expectations and send them to such informal and transferable skill classes? All you have to do is buy the classes and offer your people the membership cards! Here are some ideas to inspire you:

    • Photography classes – always in handy, very popular for the Instagram generation, and useful even inside your company;
    • Cooking classes – many participate to such courses to learn new cooking secrets (especially when it comes to exotic cuisines), while many use them as a form of relaxation and personal development;
    • Arts and crafts classes;
    • Theatre classes;
    • Public speaking – another useful skill you can entertain in the company as well;
    • Foreign languages – always coming in handy, especially if you want to develop the company overseas;
    • IT&C classes – if some of your colleagues have a knack for all things digital

    Final Thoughts

    We hope you enjoyed our list of best corporate Christmas gift ideas for this season. Do you intend to follow one or more of these suggestions? Which of them appeals to you the most and which fits your company the best? Share your thoughts with our community!

    Written by Priscilla Greene — October 26, 2018

    Why and How Should You Clean Reusable Grocery Bags?

    How often do you clean reusable grocery bags? And are you washing them properly? Such questions should concern us more, especially in light of new scientific data. Not so long ago, the University of Arizona and Loma Linda University in California joined forces and researched reusable grocery bags. This food-safety report says that our eco-friendly bags can also harbor a handful of harmful bacteria that can further endanger our health. Why should we and how should we clean reusable grocery bags to prevent any harm? Let’s find out today!

    Food Cross-Contamination

    The researchers learned during their survey that 97% of the respondents never washed their reusable grocery shopping bags. What was worse was that upon testing these bags, experts found E.coli contamination (in over 50% of the total tested bags).

    When we pile foods upon foods in our reusable grocery bags, we entertain cross-contamination of foods. Moreover, we also entertain bacteria entering our food chain. If you use a canvas shopping tote bag for groceries, but you also take it to the gym, you risk even more health hazards to affect your family.

    It is your answer in a nutshell: clean, reusable grocery bags as often and as carefully as you can. Some specialists say you should use more than one bag for food shopping and wash your bags at the end of the week. Yes, you should also wash poly shopping bags, not only cotton or canvas ones.

    How Do You Clean Reusable Grocery Bags to be Safe?

    The most evident answer is to look at the manufacturer’s labels and wash accordingly. However, if you do not have tags to rely on, here are some general tips:

    • Cotton and canvas shopping grocery bags: wash them as you would wash other cotton shopping totes or canvas items, but make sure you use hot water and detergent – heat is necessary for the elimination of E.coli risks. If you want to remove food stains from your canvas food shopping bags, dirt, grime, fruit/vegetable stains, soda, etc. use white wine vinegar for a pre-wash session. Moreover, use oxygen-based stain removers and cleaning agents containing enzymes to have crispy white, clean, and correctly disinfected grocery bags. Dry them in fresh air or dryer.
    • Nonwoven polypropylene and recycled PET: wash them by hand in hot water with enzyme cleaning agents and detergent. You can also give them a spin in a gentle cleaning cycle, but use warm water as well. Never dry them in the dryer, as the heat harms the bags.
    • Insulated shopping bags: if you carry meats in them, wipe them with disinfectant wipes after every use. As a general rule, if you want to disinfect your grocery shopping bags, use a pine oil, white wine vinegar, or phenolic disinfectant.
    • Polyester bags: use warm water and liquid detergent to wash them manually. Use the gentlest cycle you have on the machine for a thorough wash and air dry them.

    If you feel your grocery bags have an unpleasant odor to them, use the containers only when they are totally dry from the wash. Never store reusable bags – the dirty ones in particular – in your trunk, in the back of your car, or in-house drawers or cabinets. Never deposit them while moist either. Heat and humidity are the perfect environments for bacteria to thrive. Store your bags at home in a cool, dry place where air circulates freely.

    If you use grocery shopping bags with inserts, clean them with a disinfectant spray. Make sure you also pay attention to seams, nooks, and fabric creases, as you do not want spilled juices, meat blood, or vegetable dirt to turn into toxic waste for bacteria to become monsters.

    Other Tips and Tricks on How to Clean Reusable Grocery Bags

    • One piece of advice coming from experts is to use as many natural fibers as you can: hemp bags and jute grocery shopping bags have inherent properties that make them resilient to mold, mildew, and bacteria.
    • Never use chlorine bleach when you wash cotton or canvas shopping bags – it ruins the fibers.
    • If you prefer mesh grocery shopping bags, make sure you hand wash them in hot water and liquid detergent. Allow them to air dry.
    • If you shop for groceries weekly, wash the bags on a weekly basis, as we mentioned above; if you use them daily, launder them at least after 2-3 uses, if not after each use.

    How to Use Safely Grocery Shopping Bags?

    Besides learning how to clean grocery shopping bags, another critical aspect related to their safety and your health is their everyday usage. Here are some ideas you can implement:

    • Use separately colored canvas bags for the major food groups and home items you buy frequently: meat, produce, dairy and milk, fruit and vegetables, cleaning products, etc. If you do not want separate colors, label the tote bags accordingly;
    • If you're going to be safe, use (and reuse) some plastic shopping bags as a double for canvas or cotton bags; meats, poultry, even eggs can leak. Even if the products inside the bag do not leak, you can still carry and transfer bacteria through the packaging and wraps;
    • Do not mix the bags; use the ones you labeled for the purposes you marked them for and use a proper duffel bag for sports or the gym, a backpack for work or school, and a polypropylene shopping bag for detergents, cleaning stuff, and other chemicals;
    • Never put the grocery shopping bags in the baby carrier area of the grocery cart, where the bacteria can multiply endlessly;
    • Do not use bags you cannot wash or disinfect; the best and easiest to use are canvas shopping bags;
    • As safety measures work, always add a cup or two of white vinegar to your washing machine load to make sure there are no bacteria, microbes, or stains to worry

    Final Thoughts

    Now that we learned why and how to clean reusable grocery bags, it is time for you to tell us what are your favorite types of shopping bags and which ones you use the most. Do you wash them in the machine or prefer hand washing? Are you using an extensive collection of bags – in different colors – for each type of groceries or do you only follow the “one bag to rule them all” principle?

    Written by Priscilla Greene — October 25, 2018

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