Kate Fleming stands outside Mothers Nature’s Market and Deli in Cook Street Village where Karebags are available for customers after the City banned single-use plastic bags July 1. Kristyn Anthony/VICTORIA NEWS

Kate Fleming stands outside Mothers Nature’s Market and Deli in Cook Street Village where Karebags are available for customers after the City banned single-use plastic bags July 1. Kristyn Anthony/VICTORIA NEWS

Victoria’s plastic bag ban inspires local entrepreneur to give back

Karebags a local, collaborative alternative for reusable bags, donates profits to charity

There are as many opinions about the City of Victoria’s ban on plastic bags as there are old carry-all’s stuffed under the sink from last week’s grocery run.

What there isn’t a ton of, however, are local entrepreneurs providing solutions that not only help the average shopper, but give back to the community at the same time.

RELATED: Victoria first B.C. municipality to adopt plastic bag ban

The first thing Kate Fleming thought upon hearing about the ban – which took effect July 1 – was retailers are going to need an alternative to meet the guidelines of the new bylaw.

So she launched Karebags, a “wholesale reusable bag company with a conscience,” back in April and the first shipment sold out entirely.

Fifteen per cent of the sale of each bag is donated to a local charity, and Fleming first chose Bridges for Women. Karebags will select a new organization every two months, “so the love can spread around a bit,” she says.

Courtesy Karebags

“What helps us to stand apart is that we’re a local company and I’ve had the opportunity to actually get out into the community and meet with these small retailers,” says Fleming, a recent graduate of the bachelor of commerce in entrepreneurial management at Royal Roads University.

Working part-time at the Victoria Women in Need Community co-operative, Fleming is much more at ease in the non-profit realm, and “feels foreign in the world of business” but Karebags perfectly blends the two.

In a cheerful hue somewhere between sea foam and teal, she has designed four different product lines that range in pricing and fabric styles including polypropylene, cotton and polyester.

“No one fabric is perfect and it has to do a little with the customer’s preference,” she explains. “As we grow, [we’re] making sure we have that end of life plan for the product.”

RELATED: BC Supreme Court rules in favour of Victoria’s plastic bag ban

Businesses can choose to have their logo printed on the bags, there are no minimum orders, and special deals are available for trial runs. Fleming was also conscious of her wholesale price to keep in line with the $1 to $2 limit retailers are required to charge customers.

“If we’re talking about reducing waste and putting the right product out in the marketplace, they need to be tested by the businesses and work for the businesses so they’re not just stored in a warehouse somewhere collecting dust,” she says.

Fleming anticipates the steps Victoria has taken to eliminate plastics will soon be the norm in cities across the province.

“The single-use plastic bag: its time is up.”

To learn more about Karebags, visit them online at Karebags.ca or follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

kristyn.anthony@vicnews.com

Plastic Bag BanRecycling

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Island Health has reported a COVID-19 outbreak at Saanich Peninsula Hospital. (Black Press Media file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak hits first Greater Victoria hospital

Island Health declares outbreak at Saanich Peninsula Hospital

The Walking Curriculum gets students outside and connecting with nature. (Amanda Peterson/Special to S.F. Examiner)
‘Walking Curriculum’ crafted by former Saanich resident surges in popularity

The outdoor curriculum encourages students to connect with the natural world

Greater Victoria 4-H club member Sava Bell is all smiles holding some of the garden fresh ingredients he used to make his award-winning dish for the Field to Fork Challenge. (Courtesy Agriculture in the Classroom)
Greater Victoria 4-H members among winners in provincewide cooking competition

Field to Fork Challenge encourages B.C. youth to prepare healthy, local foods

Athletes with Fairway Gorge Paddling Club’s open men’s staff head out on a high-tech outrigger canoe. The club raised more than $16,500 at its 2020 Wetdasche event. (Courtesy of Fairway Gorge Paddling Club)
Victoria paddling group breaks fundraising record

Fairway Gorge Paddling Club’s 2020 Wetdashe event raises more than $16,500

Sipili Molia, regional kettle manager, shows off the Salvation Army’s new contactless donation system for the 2020 Christmas Kettle Campaign outside municipal hall on Dec. 1. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: Tech offers hope as Salvation Army sees need skyrocket across B.C.

Charity is equipping hundreds of kettles across B.C. with ‘touchless giving technology’

A tongue-in-cheek message about wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 on a sign outside a church near Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection count climbs back up to 656

20 more people in hospital, active cases still rising

A teacher places the finishing touches on the welcome sign at Hunter’s Glen Junior Public School which is part of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Sept. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Hindsight 2020: How do you preserve a year many Canadians would rather forget?

Figuring out how to preserve the story of the pandemic poses a series of challenges

Haley Callison. (Facebook photo)
Former B.C. pro hockey player frustrated with COVID-deniers after horrific bout with virus

Haleigh Callison hopes people will follow precautions and tone down the rhetoric

A man stands in the window of an upper floor condo in Vancouver on March 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Change made to insurance for B.C. condo owners amid rising premiums

Council CEO Janet Sinclair says the change will mean less price volatility

Dave Wallace coached the Parksville Royals for 23 years. (PQB News file photo)
B.C. baseball community mourns death of legendary Vancouver Island coach Dave Wallace

‘All who knew Dave and his passion for the game will miss him greatly’

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

A sign is seen this past summer outside the Yunesit’in Government office west of Williams Lake reminding visitors and members to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
B.C. First Nation leaders await privacy commissioner decision on COVID-19 information

Release of life-saving data cannot wait, says coalition of First Nations

Most Read