Hands On Hemp didn't invent the idea of using cloth reusable bags for carrying and storing food. We just took a good idea that's been around long before plastic or paper bags and made it better with sustainable hemp cloth!
Cloth flour sacks and feed sacks have been used since the early 1800's during the pioneering days of settling the United States.
When cloth sacks were first introduced they replaced barrels, boxes, and tins for storing and transporting food staples like grain, flour, seeds, and animal feed. Cloth sacks became the preferred material because they were cheaper to produce, lighter weight and easier to toss on the back of a horse vs. the more bulky and heavy containers.
The invention of the sewing machine and hence the ability to sew stronger seams than hand-stitched seams made it possible for cloth sacks to replace the others.
In the Depression era (1921-1941), both money and cloth were scarce. Due to their strong and well-made fabrics, cloth flour and feed sacks inevitably became fashionable as clothing.
Because people didn’t have money, women would recycle the cloth sacks to sew clothes for the entire family.
The flour and grain companies immediately caught on to this trend. They began making the cloth bags in all kinds of interesting colors and patterns–making the bags themselves, as much as the products they contained, hotly desired items.
Clothes could be somewhat unique because flour and grain companies kept producing new patterns and discontinuing previous ones. And, depending on the skill of the seamstress, these bags could be legitimate fashion statements!
We polished and cleaned stove and table,
Scoured and scrubbed from cellar to gable,
We dusted the bureau and oak bed post,
Made costumes for October (a scary ghost)
And a parachute for a cat named Jack.
From that lowly, useful old flour sack!
So now my friends, when they ask you
As curious youngsters often do,
"Before plastic wrap, Elmer's Glue
And paper towels, what did you do?"
Tell them loudly and with pride don't lack,
"Grandmother had that wonderful flour sack!"