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That's My Bag, Baby

Getting eco- and profit-friendly with reusable bags

February 2012 By Sean Norris
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Lethal Weapon. Rush Hour. Turner and Hooch. The buddy cop film is among Hollywood's classic tropes. You know the format: the grizzled veteran, one day away from retirement, reluctantly teams up with the brash-but-talented, hotshot rookie. Eventually they learn to put their differences aside and work together, overcoming plot holes and impossible odds with a combination of killer '80s hairstyles and a ton of explosives.

The promotional marketing world has its own version of the buddy cop film. Only in this one, reusable bags are the stars, and there are fewer explosions (usually). Instead of Danny Glover, you've got the tote bag, the reliable old pro with a proven track record. In place of Mel Gibson, you've got the biodegradable plastic bag, the exciting newcomer with something to prove. Granted, they won't get into car chases or take down any bad guys (unless the bad guys are pollution and global warming), but reusable bags can be more lucrative than a buddy cop film at the box office.

If we've learned anything from Bad Boys II, though, it's that strong leads alone don't always guarantee success—and this is especially true when it comes to reusable bags. You also need to choose the right materials and features, negotiate challenges and integrate creative ideas. Do all that, and your promotion might just be a blockbuster.

Choosing the right material for your reusable bag could be the difference between a memorable promotion and groceries scattered on the floor. Make sure you understand the capabilities and limitations of each type of material before settling on a bag.

The Tote: "The predominant bags of the past five years have been the nonwoven polypropylene reusable tote and grocery bags," said Virginia Semrow, president of American Ad Bag, Woodstock, Ill. "These bags have the characteristics of cloth in that they have stitched seams and feel like canvas. They are strong and send an eco-friendly message just by their use." She noted that much of a bag's strength depends on its GSM (grams per square meter), with higher GSM ratings yielding thicker, stronger bags and lower ratings allowing for bags that are less expensive to produce.

Chris Flynn, national sales manager for TARGETLINE, Owosso, Mich., explained further the importance of understanding GSM when working with reusable bags. "Many different levels of material are available," he said. "70-80 GSM polypropylene is great for trade shows or giveaways, [while] 100+ GSM polypropylene is great for shopping or heavier-duty projects."



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