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Entrepreneur’s nifty bags save money and planet

Netting packets can carry a week’s fruit and veggies

A young East London woman has designed an easy, convenient and eco-friendly way of getting customers’ weekly fruit and vegetables from the supermarket to the car.
Nel Lotz, 23, calls her environmentally-friendly business “Planet Pocket”, and has been making reusable drawstring bags in an effort to reduce the amount of plastic used by consumers.
“I’m taking a year off my studies because of my bipolar disorder,” she said.
“I was looking for something to do and some kind of outlet.
“I started going to sewing lessons as a hobby and the lady I sew with, taught me how to make similar drawstring bags,” said Lotz, who has been studying animal sciences at the University of Pretoria.
“I don’t think it’s necessary to talk about statistics.
“I think everyone knows how bad plastic pollution is, but it is really difficult to live a plastic-free life.
“I think if we all just take one plastic thing and find an alternative to it in our daily lives, it could make a difference.”
Lotz first made a reusable drawstring bag for her mother, who runs Appetito in East London.
Soon friends and family became interested and wanted their own.
In March, Lotz’s sewing hobby turned into a business, and in two short months, she was able to sell 400 Planet Pocket bags.
“It’s really cool to see how many people are looking for alternatives, especially in East London.
“I’ve seen a similar thing in bigger cities and in some cities the supermarkets even stock their own version of reusable fruit and vegetable bags.
“It’s nice to see our town catching on and becoming more aware of the effects we have on the environment.”
Instead of using multiple plastic packets for different grocery items, eco-conscious shoppers can now use one Planet Pocket in which to pack their fruits and vegetables during their weekly shop.
“My mom has used hers to carry almost a kilogram of potatoes before.
“The nice thing about the bags is that you can use one for all your veggies or fruits, you don’t have to take five different plastic packets,” said Lotz.
The bags are made out of nylon curtain netting and according to Lotz, have shown no sign of wear and tear in the last few months.
“The material isn’t ideal because it’s not biodegradable, but the bags are very strong so they can be reused over and over again,” Lotz said.
“I don’t waste any material while making them.
“They are also washing machine-friendly.
“They are made of netting, so it’s really easy to see exactly what’s inside and doesn’t make a cashier’s job any harder.
“They can also be used to wash delicates in the washing machine.
“My mom has started using them for that at home.
“So many items of clothing can be folded into the bags.
“Our clothes come out perfectly clean and we save water by doing less loads a week.”
Lotz sells her bags in packs of five through her Planet Pocket Facebook page and has recently started attending markets around the city.
“It’s really still more of a hobby for me and I enjoy making them and seeing people finding cool new ways to use them instead of using plastic bags.
“Some people have even used them as gift bags.
“I hope this creates awareness and gets people to use their own versions of the bag instead of always turning to plastic.”..

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