Published on December 15th, 2008 | by Rhonda Winter0
San Francisco’s Rickshaw Bagworks: The Power of Zero
What is the power of zero? It is a dedication to creating a sustainably made product that generates zero manufacturing waste and is fully recyclable. It is also one of the guiding principles that drives Rickshaw Bagworks, a socially responsible company that just opened its doors in San Francisco. Not only are all of their products specially designed to generate zero waste, they are all also manufactured right here in the city.
Elegance of Human-Powered Transport
Rickshaw Bagwork’s name refers to the human-powered vehicles popularized in Asia in the 19th century; but, as is clearly painted on their walls, it also:
“…represents the elegant simplicity of human-powered transport and the transcendent power of the human spirit.”
Last week my husband and I rode our bicycles down Third Street to the grand opening of Rickshaw Bagworks at 904 22nd Street at Minnesota, in the Dogpatch neighborhood. We were welcomed inside and parked our bikes in the warehouse. I was immediately struck by all of the beautiful artwork, prints and stencils that decorated the walls. I wandered into the store and admired the variety of splendid bags in various shapes, sizes and designs.
The mood was decidedly festive, with lots of tasty food, people socializing and a d.j. playing records.In the back of the warehouse I could see several people hard at work manufacturing bags while I grabbed a tofu kebab from the snack table and headed to get a beer.
I asked the smiling bartender some specifics about labor conditions, like if there was profit-sharing amongst the workers. He assured me that:
“As soon as we make a profit there will be profit-sharing.”
I didn’t know it at the time, but I was speaking with Rickshaw Bagworks Founder and CEO Mark Dwight, who not only knows how to design a strong, well made bag, but also supports many locally based non-profits.
Rickshaw has sponsored the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s annual Winterfest fundraiser, as well as special projects, like creating a limited edition messenger bag to help support REDF, an organization that helps employ at-risk youth in San Francisco. The bags are even screen printed locally by Ashbury Images, one of the businesses that REDF has helped to create.
I ended up buying a large black and gray bag right then and there, and it is my new favorite thing. It is roomy and comfortable and was made just a few miles from my house — how great is that? I even got a 10% discount because I am a SFBC member. I can’t remember the last time I felt so good about spending sixty bucks.