Despite the fact that there are more conscious consumers than ever before, there are still a majority of retailers who do not offer reusable bags. Nor do they realize the significant environmental impact of their packaging. According to said Dianne Sherman, Director of the International Coastal Cleanup. “Trash travels. Even if we live thousands of miles inland, our actions have a profound effect on the ocean. A bag can blow from a picnic table, wash down a storm drain into a river and wind up harming or killing a sea turtles, birds or other marine life. Trash is one of the most pervasive — but solvable — pollution problems facing our oceans and waterways.”
Recognizing the need — and opportunities — for companies to fully embrace environmentally responsible packaging, Jason Haber and his brother launched Hold the Carbon, an innovative reusable goods company that debuted with the X Bag, a 100% PET bag that is portable, durable and stylish. Their goal is two-fold — a) help companies eliminate a cost center while positively impacting the environment (and their bottom line) and b) offer consumers an affordable and multi-purpose way to do their part in saving our planet (and still be fashionable doing it). Currently, their signature X Bag is only available for resale at select retail stores; although plans are in the works to open up online sales of the X Bag and future products as well. But the X Bag is only one of many initiatives that the Haber brothers are spearheading, and they have big plans to revolutionize the reusable market in ways that make change part of an everyday lifestyle, not just a point of sale decision.
1. Why did you decide to launch Hold the Carbon?
We founded Hold the Carbon during the July 4th weekend of 2008. It happened by accident. Like many, we were hosting a family bbq and needed to pickup food. While at the deli, my brother and I loaded food into plastic bag after plastic bag. I asked the guy behind the counter if they had any reusable bags. He said the reusable bags like they carry in grocery stores are far too large for his customers. Then it occurred to us – the reusable bag market is growing, but consumer options for bags aren’t. Two days later, we had finished the rough draft of our business plan. We decided not to create a reusable bag company, but instead a green services company that does, among other things, create reusable products. We’ve also created a program for college campuses called “Go Green University” that empowers colleges to go green through our workshops and events on campus. We now have the consumer trend line on our side. Governments are taxing or banning plastic bag usage across the country and consumers are responding by changing their habits. This environment is the perfect time to introduce an affordable green product to the market.
2. Tell us more about the bag.
After raising start-up capital in early 2008, we released the X bag, a durable and portable reusable bag in New York City. The bag is currently in stock in several stores and retails for only $0.99. Our goal with the X Bag was simple: make it affordable, make it strong, make it stylish, and of course, make it green. Unlike most reusable bags on the market, ours are 100% PET. In every store that stocks it, the bag sells out. On Earth Day, April 22nd, we will be giving out 5,000 free bags across Manhattan. We hope to use this date as a springboard to migrate more consumers toward reusable bags. We are currently working with clients in Chicago, Washington DC, Cleveland and in New York to design customized products for their customers. Since we have the capacity to implement a bag of any size, our graphics design team has no limits to what we can create. Green bags tend to all have that same look – images of the planet, a tree growing, or maybe a smiley face on display. We believe you can go green without limiting yourself on design. That’s why we have some of New York’s most innovative graphic designers working for us to create a product that is completely unique for our clients.
3. What has been the response so far?
We have been delighted with our early results. We are now looking to expand the X Bag for sale in other markets, included San Fransisco and Washington, DC. We are developing an updated version of our website which we hope to release in the second half of 2009. Consumers like our product and businesses do as well. If you own a store, plastic bags and paper bags are a cost center for you. Our company enables you to remove that cost center and turn it into a profit center. So our bag is good for business, good for the consumer and good for the environment.
4. What is your long-term vision for the initiative?
As a company, we have very ambitious goals. We want to remove the plastic bag from the planet. We want to create green collar jobs. We want be a part of this incredible moment in history and help shift the consumer away from mass consumption to reusable goods. We want to invigorate and spark new green ideas on college campuses and in communities around the world. We’d like to create products for governments, businesses, and consumers that help to achieve all the above.
5. What advice do you have for others who want to start an eco-focused company?
Trust your gut. Don’t talk about doing it. . . do it. The green tech revolution will be bigger than the Internet, according to one well-known VC. If you are planning to get into it, do it now. Don’t let the recession, or the naysayers stop you. Now’s the time.
Name: Jason Haber
Company: Hold The Carbon