Bags — From the Beginning to Paper

Woven Basket with Lid for Carrying StuffIn the Beginning

From the earliest time of civilization, we needed to carry stuff around. Our hands had limited capacity so we developed ways of carrying stuff by creating bags and other containers out of animal hides or plant materials, and later from woven fabrics. Pottery and glass vessels were useful for carrying liquids and other items.

Back then bags and containers were made to fit their purpose and to last a long time. We had to actually make them by hand using devices which we also had to make (like an awl for piercing holes in a hide). Have you ever tried to poke a hole in a piece of leather — it isn’t easy. These early bags and containers were meant to be reused again and again and possibly passed down to the next generation.

Let’s narrow our focus to bags.

What Exactly is a Bag?

The word bag can mean many different things. According to Webster’s New World College Dictionary Fourth Edition, the word bag is defined as follows (partial list) :

  1. a nonrigid container made of fabric, paper, leather, etc., with an opening at the top that can be closed; sack or pouch
  2. a piece of hand luggage; suitcase
  3. a woman’s handbag or purse

For this and related posts, we’ll stick with definition 1 and focus on bags individuals use to shop and carry stuff around.

Enter the Paper Bag

With the advent of the Industrial Revolution, we could now use machines to manufacture bags from other materials, like paper. Paper bags may have marked the beginning of the shift to single-use bags.

Paper Bag History Highlights (with a little about shopping thrown in)

  • Paper Grocery Bag1852 – Francis Wolle invented and patented a machine to make paper bags.
  • 1871 – Margaret E. Knight was awarded a patent for a device she invented several years earlier that cut, folded and glued paper to create square bottoms for paper bags (she is often considered the mother of the grocery bag).
  • 1883 – Charles Stilwell was awarded a patent for a square-bottom bag with pleated sides, his “self-opening sack” or S.O.S. could hold more items, folded flat for storage, and could easily be opened and filled.
  • Paper Shopping Bag with Handles1912 – Walter H. Deubner created the first shopping bag with handles (the reinforced bottom and handles made it easier for his customers to buy and carry more purchases), by 1915 he had patented his product and was selling over a million shopping bags a year.
  • 1916 – Clarence Saunders opened the Piggly Wiggly, the first “self-service grocery store” where customers selected items from shelves themselves and checked out at the front of the store, he patented his concepts in 1917. Customers were likely carrying their purchases home in paper bags.
  • 1930’s – with the birth of the America supermarket (combining dry goods, meat, and produce in one location), demand for Stilwell’s paper bags skyrocketed. Their versatility, strength, and low cost made them first a nationwide then worldwide phenomenon.

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Walking — Good for the Planet and Good for You — At Work

Most people spend a lot of time at work earning a living. With a little creativity, you can build walking into your day, which benefits you and the environment.

Already walk a lot at work? Skip this post and put your feet up. Those of you who sit a lot at work, read on. Many health experts recommend walking 10,000 steps a day as part of a healthy lifestyle. Work provides lots of opportunities.

10 Easy Ways to Rack Up Walking Steps at Work

  1. Walk to Work
  2. Walk to Mass Transit
  3. Park Far Away
  4. Take the Stairs
  5. Face to Face
  6. Take a Break
  7. Talk on the Phone
  8. Hold a Walking Meeting
  9. Show me the Money
  10. Walk and Work

Walk to Work

If you live within a mile or so of where you work, walking is a viable option. Since you don’t have to find a place to park and then walk, it may actually take less time than driving.

Walk to Mass Transit

Live too far away to walk to work but near a stop for a bus, carpool, subway, or train? You score steps for walking to the stop, then work, and back. Plus taking mass transit is way more environmentally-friendly than driving.

Park Far Away

Full Parking LotCan’t or won’t walk to work or mass transit? Then park as far away from the building entrance as possible. Large office or retail complexes with big parking lots provide an opportunity for a lot of steps. If you visit clients at their offices, skip visitor parking (if allowed) and park away from the building entrance. If you have a parking garage at your place of work, great, drive up to the top level and take the stairs.

Take the Stairs

We all know we should take the stairs but do we? Next time you have the option between an elevator or escalator and stairs, actually take the stairs.

Face to Face

Skip e-mail, texting, and the phone. Get up from your desk and walk to talk with a colleague. It’s a good way to get some walking in and make a personal connection. Visit the “back office” or warehouse. This could be a 1/4 mile or more each way. One of my friends was an operations manager of a distribution division which included a large warehouse. She wore a business suit and tennis shoes and walked many miles a day from the office to the warehouse and back. Just goes to show you can be professional and comfortable.

Take a Break

Businesswomen Walking in ParkThe reason they are called breaks is you are supposed to actually take a break from work. Taking a walk during a short break, even just around the office or plant, burns calories and add steps. Break the habit of eating lunch at your desk. Bring your lunch and walk to a park or buy your lunch and walk to a park. Walk to run errands, shop, go to the library. Taking breaks is good for your mental well-being too.

Talk on the Phone

Get a wireless headset or ear bud and walk around while talking on the phone. People who spend a lot of time on the phone or in conference calls could walk several miles while talking on the phone.

Hold a Walking Meeting

Business people often complain about going to too many meetings. Maybe if more meetings were held while walking, they would be more productive and shorter. Certainly, a walking meeting is more feasible with a small group. If you must attend a sit-down meeting, don’t forget to take the stairs when you have the opportunity.

Show Me the Money

Pedometer with Tape MeasureMore and more employers are realizing that promoting employee wellness is a win-win. For example, healthy employees may be more creative and productive, take fewer sick days, and have fewer injuries. Some companies offer cash incentives or prizes for regular check-ups, screenings, or for quitting smoking. Walking competitions enhance employee health and camaraderie.

Walk and Work

While researching walking at work I came across the “treadmill desk” which combines a treadmill and a desk. I was so intrigued by this concept, I decided to do more research and write a separate post about it.

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