Meet the Cumbrian based company that aims to reduce outdoor equipment and clothing waste by creating unique products for climbers and more. I recently interviewed Jennifer, the owner and creator of Dirtbags to find out where it all began and more about Dirtbags.
Jennifer had always wanted to climb but not be in the right place or had the opportunity to climb much. She was an English teacher but decided a change was needed and made the move to the English Lake District.
As a result of living in the lakes, she was able to spend time in the outdoors climbing, wild swimming and running; making the most of the surrounding area. Shortly after the move, she met her husband to be (James) they began dating.
James is an avid climber soon reintroduced her to rock climbing which became a much-loved hobby that they could do together, and share with other friends.
When Jennifer fell pregnant and had to take time off during her maternity leave, she was sorting some items in the house, when James asked her to get rid of a climbing rope that was getting a bit old.
She recognised that climbing and outdoor gear is very bold and very bright and they tend to have some plastic elements; It seemed a waste to throw away so she started to try an idea of making a chalk bag out of a rope. After seeing a few people do this in Germany, out came her sewing machine and she gave it a go.
This then inspired her to look into the PPE requirements that go into some of the outdoor gear and materials; they were mainly plastic-based.
Realising that there was so much fabric that could be used and plenty of material that could be turned into something else.
Fast forward several years, they now have a beautiful child together, live in Kendal and have a successful and thriving business called Dirtbags.
The Snowball Effect
Then after the initial orders, friends started to turn up with old outdoor gear and material asking Jenifer to create something with them. As this grew, she soon had to move downstairs for storage and workspace, then eventually building a workshop in the garden to continue creating the chalk bags.
This small idea of creating chalk bags whilst reusing materials that would otherwise be landfill continued to grow; so much so that Dirtbags needed an additional another member of the team to work for them full time, a purchasing a unit, acquiring some additional materials to fill the gaps or requirements from customers.
Worn ropes, double-lined jackets and bags reinforced to protect against nature. With a sewing machine to hand and a little creative instinct, she decided to try and reuse as much of the material as possible.
Approximately 90% of the material used to create these products are from recycled material. Now they create a range of products that you can purchase from their site and you can request.
What started as an idea to reduce waste and creating products she could use has now developed into a successful brand that is growing every day. With product catalogue expanding beyond the chalk bags to include bespoke items, outdoor rugs, other types of bags. Dirtbags have also worked with a number of brands and companies to reuse their fabrics and just recently launched a product with Berghaus.
Maybe it’s the fashion or maybe it’s the fact the past few years global awareness on sustainability, climate change and plastic waste has made all of us question our consumer choices. Coming from working in the outdoor industry the more time you spend outdoors the more you want to preserve it. Check out their fantastic products here.
Want To Donate?
If you have things you would like to donate then you can take the equipment and outdoor fabrics below to the following address: Unit 4 I&J Gatebeck Business Park, Gatebeck, Kendal, LA8 0HS
Things That Dirtbags accept:
- Climbing rope
- Rucksacks, any other bags
- Climbing gear – nuts/cams/biners
- Unwanted, clean fabrics.
I do not make any money or receive any commission for writing this article about Dirtbags, I simply love their products and think what Jennifer has created is fantastic. This interview was originally conducted for Womenclimb, however, with the direction of the Womenclimb being disolved and now just an online community, I was given permission to use the article on here instead.
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