All about Doy Bags
What are Doy Bags?
Doy Bags are a range of bags, purses and accessories made from recycled juice packs - non-biodegradable foil and plastic packaging that would otherwise go into landfill sites and incinerators.
The juice packs come in a large number of fruity flavors, such as the ever popular Drysdale and Sunkist Tutti-Fruitti ranges, which are mixed and matched to create a huge variety of colorful bags. There are Doy Bags made from recycled sauce packs, too: check out our Tomato Sauce bags. And for chocoholics we even have Choc-O bags!
Doy Bags are produced and traded according to Fair Trade principles (see below).
Who makes Doy Bags?
Doy Bags are made by our women's cooperative in the Philippines. The large number of bags and household items that we produce every year prevents vast quantities of juice packs from being burnt, buried or simply littering the streets and waterways.
Our cooperative has won a number of awards in the Philippines for its concern for the environment and its outstanding contribution to both waste recycling and employment generation.
Who works for the cooperative?
We are proud to provide employment to over 500 women. Almost all the women are from disadvantaged backgrounds and are their family's main or only breadwinners, most of the husbands being unable to find work due to the poor economy of the area. The women have an average of 4-6 children, thus working for the cooperative makes a real difference, elevating families from extreme poverty to a decent life. Functioning as a sort of extended family enterprise, the cooperative also employs 11 young men (adult sons of some of the women) as drivers, packers and warehousemen.
What are the cooperative's aims?
The Cooperative began as an environmental project with the aim of 'cleaning and greening' the local neighborhood. The project was very successful and our mission expanded into developing 'livelihood opportunities from garbage' - finding ways of creatively reusing materials that would otherwise go into landfill sites and incinerators.
Working together with the local council, the women set up a Recycling Center and started to educate local households to sort their recyclable waste and sell it to the cooperative. Juice packs - colorful, tough and non-biodegradable - were particularly well suited to 'creative recycling' and Doy Bags, now our iconic product, quickly became very popular.
By proving that there can be a livelihood in garbage, we have succeeded where the juice manufactures have failed to even try to make a difference (despite several recent acts of parliament to regulate 'ecological solid wastes' in the Philippines).
Our mission is now both environmental and social as we work to improve the lives of local women by creating long-term sustainable employment - providing not only fair and regular wages, but also the skills and dignity that a proper job brings.
Where do the 'raw' juice packs come from?
Juice drinks in these foil pouches are hugely popular in the Philippines, sold everywhere and drunk by almost everyone. Unfortunately a large number of the discarded juice packs - which are non-biodegradable - end up not only in landfill sites and incinerators, but also litter streets and clog drainage systems, lakes and rivers. To prevent this happening the cooperative organizes regular collections from private homes and also from schools, dormitories and hospitals, offices, community and convention centers, and even from festivals, parties and events of all kinds. Local people are enthusiastic about the project and help as much as they can - even going as far as drinking their juice upside-down!
How are Doy Bags made?
The cooperative has three main teams: buyers, washers and seamstresses.
- The buyers travel around the area buying used juice packs from households and organizations.
- The washers sort the juice packs, thoroughly sanitize them in a three-stage process, and then dry them.
- The seamstresses, the most skilled members of the cooperative, use industrial sewing machines to transform the juice packs into Doy Bags.
The remaining members of the cooperative are involved in quality control, packing and shipping, bookkeeping and administration.
For pictures please see below.
Doy Bags are 'fairly traded' - what does this mean?
Fair Trade is an approach to trade that ensures that workers receive a fair price for what they produce. It also involves a concern for workers' rights and the conditions in which they are employed.
Doy Bags are made by a cooperative which means that every single person involved in the production of the bags has a say in how things are run. In addition to receiving a fair and living wage, the cooperative provides safe and hygienic working conditions, reasonable working hours (i.e. no forced overtime) and a weekly ration of five kilos of rice per worker. All workers are encouraged to attend free skills training and personal development seminars. In addition, the cooperative promotes the importance of education for members' children and provides a scholarship fund to make this possible. No children are permitted to work for the cooperative under any circumstances.
You may never visit the Philippines yourself, but by buying a fairly traded Doy Bag you can be sure that you are helping to improve the lives of these disadvantaged women and their families.
How strong/tough are Doy Bags?
Doy Bags are strong and durable. The larger bags, for example, can easily be used to carry a load of shopping home from the supermarket. The seams are double stitched.
Doy Bags are made in the Philippines, but all the writing on the juice packs is in English. Why isn't it in Filipino (Tagalog)?
Both Tagalog and English are official languages in the Philippines, but almost all products are labelled in English. This is because Tagalog has so many dialects that the best way to make sure that pretty much everyone can read something is to write it in English!
Some of the juice pack flavors you have are really strange - what on earth are Guyabano, Calamansi and Dalandan?
They are all types of fruit that grow in the Philippines. Guyabano ('Soursop' in English) is a spiny green pear-shaped fruit that has a sweet-sour taste and can weigh up to 5 kilos. Calamansi is a citrus fruit a bit like a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange. It is orange-yellow and the juice tastes rather like lemonade. Dalandan, another citrus fruit, is a kind of tangy orange. The juice is said to be very good for you!
There doesn't seem to be any expiry date stamped on the juice packs used to make my bag - are you sure they are really recycled?
Requirements like stamping the 'best before' or 'expiry' date are not always taken very seriously in the Philippines. Sometimes the date is printed in the wrong place, sometimes it isn't printed at all! However, the government seems to be getting stricter with implementing expiry dates on products, so this may start to change.
The juice packs used to make my Doy Bag look so fresh and new - are you sure they are really recycled?
As our juice pack project has become bigger and better known in the local community people have started to save their used juice packs for the project and regular collections have been set up (see above). Juice packs collected in this way are in much better condition, and look much newer and fresher, than ones that have been collected from the streets.
It is also possible that the juice packs used to make your Doy Bag may be what are called pre-consumer juice packs. These are cut from rolls of packaging that have been rejected by the manufacturers, usually because of printing errors. Normally, these rejects would be slashed (to mark them as rejects) and then burned - giving off all kinds of hazardous fumes. To prevent this happening, we are now working with a number of the manufacturers to recycle these pre-consumer juice packs, using them in the same ways as used juice packs.
The 'punch here' mark for the straw hasn't been used on some of the juice packs in my bag - are you sure they are really recycled?
The cooperative is continuously working to educate local people on how to handle the juice packs in preparation for making Doy Bags. Juice packs with unbroken straw holes are less likely to tear, making them superior for making into Doy Bags. So we ask people not to pierce the 'punch here' mark with the straw, but rather to punch the straw through the base of the juice pack.
This 'education drive' has worked and most local people now drink their juice from an upside-down juice pack with the straw pushed through the base of the pack!
Where does the name Doy Bags come from?
The name Doy Bags comes from the technical term for the flexible foil stand-up pouches that we recycle into bags and accessories. These pouches are known in the world of food packaging as doy packs® after the man who invented them in 1962, Louis Doyen.
How are Doy Bags transported from the Philippines to the UK?
We ship the vast majority of our Doy Bags stock to the UK by container ship. We always do our best to maximise the amount shipped by sea, however on occasions we do use air freight.
The reason we sometimes use air freight is of course the length of time a shipment takes - a few days as opposed to 6-7 weeks for sea shipping. So the 'core' collection which we can order well in advance comes by sea, and extra items are sent by air.
We are working hard towards being as 'green' and environmentally friendly as possible, however there is also a major fair trade and livelihood creation dimension to Doy Bags which is very important to us. The more bags we can sell - even if this means sometimes shipping by air - the more disadvantaged women in the Philippines can be provided with a decent and sustainable livelihood.
How a Doy Bag is made...
6. Quality Control