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Local Artist Unveils Reusable Cloth Bags

Textile specialist, who owned Ambatalia Fabrics until it closed two years ago, promoted sustainable shopping.

Molly de Vries is determined to live what she calls a "Non-Disposable Life," and she's rolled out a line of products to help people do the same.

"We're trying not to buy things that have any packaging," said de Vries, who has three children and lives in downtown Mill Valley. "We shop in bulk at the farmers market. We have our own chickens. It's been a wonderful challenge so far."

With a possible ban on plastic bags making its way through the Marin County Board of Supervisors and the California State Legislature, lawmakers are trying to give consumers incentives to use reusable bags.

But those bags, largely designed for transporting a large amount of groceries once you've already checked out from a store, aren't always a good fit for buying fruits and vegetables or grains and nuts in bulk, the 47-year-old de Vries said.

She came up with her line of Ambitalia "to the market" bags for just such uses, like when you don't want to put a bulk purchase of almonds, for instance, in a plastic bag.

De Vries, who owned a store called Ambatalia Fabrics on Throckmorton Ave. until two years ago, buys unused, reclaimed fabrics from the Bay Area to make her products, which she sells online and at Maison Reve. For the Ambatalia bags, she uses a traditional Japanese furoshiki square cloth design. The tops come up in two points and can be tied furoshiki-style to close the sacks.

"It's like a sewn bucket that you tie on the top," said de Vries, a 1981 graduate of Tam High.

The sacks come in a large size, which is 10" long x 5" wide and 6" deep. The small measures 7" long x 41/2" wide and 4" deep. De Vries sells the small bags for $6 each and the large for $7.50 apiece, with discounts for buying more.

De Vries sells the bags online and at some farmer's markets. She just got approval to sell her wares at the new farmer's market at the Marin Country Mart, formerly the Larkspur Landing Shopping Center. The Saturday market debuts Oct. 30.

G Man August 03, 2011 at 04:25 PM
Yea!!! Next, we'll be carrying our wooden buckets down to the water hole and following our mule as we plow the field. Nothing like wanting to drive society back into the 19th century. Enjoy your bags but don't try and force me to carry one of those sissy sacks. Let's try a ban on fabric, instead. I'd love to know what Ms. DeVries thinks of that idea. Why? Well, because petroleum is used extensively in the manufacturing of those fabrics and we know how eeeeeevil oil is. You didn't think fabric grew on trees, did you? Have you seen any hand operated looms, lately? Besides, I've seen fabric laying around like so much trash. We need to have it all banned because "some" people just don't now how to recycle or dispose of it properly. [/sarcasm]
Tracey August 04, 2011 at 04:53 PM
I'm surprised and disappointed by the comment by G man. Molly de Vries makes wonderful products that can be used for years. The article clearly states that Ms. de Vries uses 'reclaimed' fabric--that is, fabric that would otherwise be discarded because there is not enough to make the product it was originally intended for. She is not *driving* fabric manufacturing but rather keeping it from becoming landfill (and she is doing so by making useful and beautiful products). Reusable bags are convenient and easy to use, and very 21st century! Perhaps it is time for all of us to move into the future, generating less garbage and living more thoughtfully.

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