Joys of Jute
Turtle Bags has been supplying hand crafted jute products from our partner Women’s Empowerment Programme for more than 15 years. This is part of a fair trade supply chain, introduced to us by Traidcraft.
Thanks to their introduction we have established a wonderful partnership which has allowed us to bring their jute products to stores across Europe and beyond.
It was fascinating to see, on my visit to the beautiful Barisal area in Bangladesh, the mountains of soft raw jute fibres transformed into beautifully crafted bags and baskets.
The cultivation of jute is part of a long, long tradition; It has been used for making textiles in the Indus valley civilization since the 3rd millennium BC. Likewise, the craft of working with jute on handlooms, waist looms to create textiles is an important part of cultural history in rural Bangladesh.
As a native plant to Bangladesh, jute happily thrives in the fertile moisture of the bay of Bengal. Here, there is no need for pesticides or fertilisers, the fertile delta provides all the nutrients. Jute as a fibre has a simple appeal with extraordinary environmental credentials. With a rapid growth rate, romping up to four meters in four months it has an ability to fix carbon very efficiently.
Not only is it a carbon sink but it can enhance the fertility of the soil it grows in. It doesn’t release microfibers, reducing the pollution of waterways. And finally, once its work it’s done the fibres will naturally compost leaving no trace.
The journey from plant to fibre involves the process of retting shown in the picture above. By soaking the plants in water, the mixture of of bacteria and water serve to break down the plant cell walls. The fibres can then be pulled away from the stem and washed and dried for use.
Its these super long fibres which make it so useful for crafting hardworking materials for our beautiful and robust bags and baskets.