BAG2WORK: Made by refugees - and out of used boats
BAG2WORK: Made by refugees - and out of used boats
This bag packs your stuff with a story. Made out of used boats from the Greek beaches. By refugees who get paid for their work.
This bag packs your stuff with a story. Made out of used boats from the Greek beaches. By refugees who get paid for their work. Read more
Like most humans on this planet we believe in the Golden Rule: treat others as you want to be treated. Being autonomous makers ourselves, it breaks our heart to see how refugees are consistently treated as needy victims and not as the inventive humans they can be.
In March our fingers started itching, so we took time off school to meet refugees halfway. During our workshops with boat refugees on Lesvos, we turned discarded boats and life vests into bags for their onward journey into Europe. We chose not to just give them goods they needed, but to make those items together.
Our workshop was featured in the above Al Jazeera movie with millions of facebook views. As a result, we got many requests of people who wanted to buy the bag. But there was no way we could meet the demand at the time. We did workshops, not webshops.
Since then we found out that there is a legal way to give refugees in Holland a paid job. And we met Makers Unite, who are setting up a production facility for refugees in Amsterdam. So we stopped wandering and started wondering...
What if we crowdfunded the production of 500 bags from discarded boats, made by refugees who get paid for their work?
It could give the refugees some autonomy back. It would give the discarded boats and life vests from Greek beaches a worthy second life. And it would give you the opportunity to carry a positive story about the refugee crisis with you, wherever you go.
BAG2WORK is a statement. If we want newcomers to integrate, we have to get them back to work. So back us and get a bag. One that’s guaranteed to be a conversation starter.
A riveting design
The story behind the BAG2WORK is reflected in its design. We wanted to work together with refugees in camps, using the waste from the beaches. We had a language barrier to overcome, no money for expensive tools and no electricity at our disposal.
To be able to work swiftly with the sturdy boat material, we decided to use rivet guns. Riveting is a simple, strong and inclusive technique that you may know from how many jeans pockets are assembled. It proved to be a very feasible and inclusive approach for working in the camps, allowing anyone to make a bag within one hour.
As refugees have to carry all their belongings with them, we chose to go for the maximum volume with the minimum amount of material. That's how we came up with the fortune cookie-like shape, with the added benefit that the bag can stand on its own.
The BAG2WORK is an improved version of the bag we made during the workshop. We've adjusted the positioning of the straps, increased the size of the top cover and added some nice design details, such as the trademark triangles on the straps for increased durability.
One size, fits all you need
We used a minimum amount of material:
- 1 square meter of boat rubber
- 4 life vest straps, including buckles
- 35 rivets and rings
To get the maximum amount of bag:
- Volume: 21 liters
- Dimensions: 35cm x 45cm x 32cm
- Weight: About 1 kg
Part of the funds we'll use to get used boats and life vests from the beaches of Greece. While life vests straps are usually black, we don't know in advance what color the boats have. But judging from our prior clean up activities we can make an educated guess.
We've encountered mostly black, some grey and small quantities of blue, white and green. Here's an indication of what the colors look like for those of you who want to specify a favorite color. We'll do our best to find it for you.
Show your support
If you want to show your support for refugee jobs with a smaller gesture, you can get a Re-Vest Life ribbon which is made out of used life vests. Like the BAG2WORK, it's produced by refugees at Makers Unite.
Nominated in The Netherlands
The BAG2WORK design has been nominated for the New Material Award and a hotspot presentation at the Dutch Design Week. The Dutch Design Foundation offered us a spot in their special crowdfunding trajectory. And TEDx and DDW invited us to speak at their events. We hope that all this attention will not only contribute to the success of our campaign, but also to the awareness of how design can help solve the challenges of our time.
Risks and challenges
Legally, it can be complicated to give paid work to refugees. We are working with the Amsterdam municipality to ensure we comply with all the legal standards. Under Dutch Law, refugees are able to do paid work in the Netherlands under special circumstances. They should have requested asylum more than 6 months ago, they should have special permission from two governmental institutions and they should give part of their income back to the government as compensation for their sustenance. Read all about it here (in Dutch):
Before the bag is delivered to your doorstep, or even to our workshop, its materials have come a long way. First and foremost, they have been responsible for lives during their trip over the Mediterranean Sea. They might have been stranded on the rough beaches of Lesvos for some months, before being picked up and shipped to Amsterdam to be made into a bag by refugee hands.
Even though we monitor the quality of every single bag that leaves our production facility, it is inevitable that some of the material bears small scars in memory of an epic journey. Therefore, we cannot accept any returns. Please cherish these scars and treat them well, because this is what makes your bag unique.
- (36 days)