Early 2015 at Bags of Ideas we did a post on Jute as a material, why it was eco friendly, and made some suggestions as to what jute bags you may choose. This can be found here: All About Jute: Why Jute Bags are the Most Eco-Friendly Option for your Promotions
But other than quoting Jute’s green-credentials, we didn’t give a huge range of detail as to why and when you could use it as a promotional tool, and what benefits it offered over other materials such as cotton, paper and canvas.
So let’s start with the main use in the UK of Jute bags today – the “Bag for Life”. Jute is a really great material for this role. Not only is it strong and hard wearing, its hessian-style look adds to the “eco” image associated with a Bag for Life. If you want your brand to clearly shout “environmentally conscious” – jute is the way forward. There are also Fair Trade options.
With England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland now having one form of bag tax or another, there’s huge demand for a range of ethical, environmentally-sustainable carrier bag alternatives. Generally speaking, cotton bags are a more cost effective option, but Jute is hard to bead for longevity.
Compared to cotton, jute is simply much stronger, whether it’s for day-to-day usage, or extreme circumstance – like getting caught on sharp edges – jute always comes out on top. It’s much more robust and will withstand the daily battering a Bag for Life will inevitably be receiving as it gets thrown around, packed into car boots, pulled from cupboards or put under wholesale stress and strain. It’s also readily able to hold items such as tins and bottles with a high item weight, and in quantity.
When using bags as a marketing tool you have to consider practicality; in other words, is the bag easy to use? This may seem like a silly statement, as surely a bag is a bag. However, you may be surprised. One practical element of a Jute bag that sets it head and shoulders above the rest is the rigidity; the ability to stand up on its own. A jute bag can stand up, so when loading shopping at a supermarket, it’s a doddle. And equally, when not in use, it can be rolled up or folded to take up a minimum of space, unlike cardboard or plastic boxes. It also retains its shape even in hot conditions.
For the fashion conscious, jute is also a great option. Its rustic appearance, whether as a shopper, like the simba shopper here, or as a shoulder satchel, like the Soko, looks great. Added with the fact being eco-friendly is now also trendy, jute offers affordable and attractive bags for promotional and retail purposes, which massively increases perceived value and longevity.
Showing your Brand
Now let’s look at some of the myths around Jute, the main one being that because course-feel makes it hard to print, it is a poor solution for a branded promotional bag. There is some element of truth in this; any fibrous, course material will more difficult to print on than a soft, smooth surface, but it’s far from impossible making it is a versatile product with great scope for branding potential.
Screen-printing on Jute is not an issue. Though a naturally course material, with items such as bags there is a focus on cleaning up the edges so that they print well.
In addition, most Jute bags will have a clear laminated surface on one side (the inside), which firstly adds a level of water resistance, but also allows the ink to better hold to the surface of the bag, making printing easier.
If you want intricate detail, screen-printing may not be the solution. Though a screen print will hold well, with the light weave, detail will not show well. But there is a solution: Transfer printing!
This works quite well on jute bags, and offers a long lasting solution if you need a full colour image; despite the course and fibrous nature of the surface, as the transfer is sealed by heat, not just a sticky surface, the adhesion is great, and will last.
If you are not a fan of transfer printing though, all is not los; Juco – a combination of cotton and jute – may be the answer. Juco’s manufacture offers the best of both materials, retaining the strength, durability and practicality of Jute, with a finish more like cotton, allowing for more detailed direct printing.
As you might expect, it is more expensive than plain Jute, but that is more than made up for by the additional flexibility if required for branding.
So if you are in need of an eco-friendly, durable alternative to the traditional plastic bag, a jute Bag for Life may well be your answer; a jute shopper is bound to make a strong lasting impression on any target audience as a promotional marketing tool.