As the Christmas season approached in 2018, Gunnison’s Veronica Wilde found herself with a few too many fabric scraps from old sewing projects lying around. With a spark of do-it-yourself inspiration, she decided to whip the remnants into a functional bag to gift her friends and family.
The creations not only kept her from wasting the fabric — which would end up clogging more of the landfill already overflowing with wasted objects — they quickly became a staple of Wilde’s pastime.
“I started making (the bags) here and there, and since then they’ve really taken off,” she said. “I’m excited to be launching them on a bigger scale.”
Wilde introduced her company, Gunnibags, to a wider audience last month; according to its website, the first expected bunch of bags will be available online on Sept. 15.
Gunnibags are made from at least 75 percent recycled material. Created from blankets to table cloths to shower curtains, no bag will ever be the same. The unique fabrics are used to create the base of the bag, and unused climbing rope is fastened on as handles.
Wilde and her partner have honed in on the task in an efficient manner — the two are typically making 100 bags a month. But it wasn’t always so simple, as Wilde recalls the “chaotic situations” when they first began making them.
“We were burning and cutting the rope, hammering the grommets on,” Wilde laughed. “It was quite the learning experience.”
The pair never ran out of textiles to utilize, however, as they kept collecting them and friends across the valley would donate their old scraps to them. As word of mouth spread on their donations, so did word on the bags themselves and their message of sustainability.
According to the Gunnibags website, more than 15 million tons of textile waste is generated in the United States each year.
All climbing rope is also used material; Gunnibags most recently partnered with Western Colorado University’s Mountain Rescue Team to receive their retired ropes at the end of each year.
As Gunnibags begin to spread across the community and beyond, Wilde hopes individuals will be more cognizant of the waste they produce — no matter how simple it may be.
“I hope that we make people a little more aware of the waste they acquire each year,” Wilde said. “You don’t have to throw away your jeans with a hole in them or the tablecloth you don’t want to donate.”
Along with spreading a message of living more sustainably, 10 percent of every bag purchased is donated to the Gunnison Underdog Rescue (GUR), a cause close to Wilde’s heart.
“What’s not to love about being a part of a small local business that’s environmentally conscious?” Deb Callihan, GUR’s executive director said.
Wilde has been selling the bags to a boutique in her hometown of Seward, Ala., but to launch her business in the town she makes them in — and named them after — is additionally special.
“The support has been overwhelming, and I’m excited to see Gunnibags get a little bit bigger,” Wilde said.
(Roberta Marquette can be contacted at 970.641.1414 or at email@example.com.)