Founded in 2016, the startup GOT BAG produces sustainable backpacks from recycled marine plastic. Each backpack consists of just under 3.5 kilograms of plastic waste – waste that would otherwise have been floating in the sea off the coast of Indonesia. Currently, the start-up is going viral with a Instagram campaign, in which they are giving away a complete Camper van – including Co2 compensation for the first 10,000 kilometers driven. With this action they tease their Mystery Box (released today at 20:00). Included are sustainable products various green start-ups. Together with HeyBico you will also find a sustainable surprise from us. We took a closer look at GOT BAG and tell you how they came to create backpacks made from recycled ocean plastic.
Tip: Read to the end and win GOT BAG backpack!
Every year, 9 million tons of plastic end up in our oceans. GOT BAG developed and successfully launched the world’s first backpack made of marine plastic . With their vision, they want to raise awareness of ocean pollution and take active action against it. With a network of 1500 fishermen, textile workers, designers, technicians and partners, they believe that a positive change in the world is possible.
Start-up foundation after vacation - The GOT BAG story
It all started on vacation in Thailand. GOT BAG founder Benjamin Mandos told his school friend Roman Ruster about the devastating impressions he had gathered there. For Benjamin, it was clear: “Every year, over 13 million tons of plastic end up in our oceans. Plastic waste in the ocean and on beaches, climate change, and overfishing are taking their toll on the oceans and already altering habitats. Seabirds, whales and other marine animals are dying because they have plastic in their stomachs. This has to stop as soon as possible.”
The two water sports enthusiasts, who have been united by their love and proximity to the sea since early childhood, make the decision: “Now is the time to act.” With the idea of creating something new from plastic waste from the sea, they develop the world’s first backpacks made from marine plastic and found the company GOT BAG in Mainz in 2016.
As a brand, GOT BAG is not only meant to stand for durable and sustainable backpacks made from ocean plastic, but rather to create a collective awareness that people need to take active action against the growing littering of the oceans with plastic. Under the claim ‘Create an Impact’, GOT BAG also sees itself as a movement to protect the all-important marine ecosystem, where algae and marine flora produce around 70 percent of the oxygen inhaled by humans – far more than all the forests on earth.
For more than five years, GOT BAG has been working to collect as much marine plastic as possible from Indonesian beaches, recycle it and never allow it back into the sea. GOT BAG founder Benjamin Mandos and his team are convinced that this, together with the educational work on the ground in Indonesia, is the basis for achieving a rethink in the use of plastic.
How to get the sustainable backpack from the sea to your back
The mission of GOT BAG is to free the ocean from plastic piece by piece. This begins with the work of the now approximately 1,500 local fishermen who salvage the plastic that gets caught in their nets in Demak, Indonesia. Also in Indonesia, the raw material is then cleaned, sorted and processed into yarn. All work steps are certified and meet the highest requirements for socially acceptable working conditions and fair payment, which is above the regional standard.
In the meantime, more than 100 tons of plastic waste have been fished out of the sea on their behalf. Up to 5 kilograms of plastic are salvaged for each GOT BAG travel companion. Of this amount, an average of about 1.5 kilograms is accounted for by PET, which can be recycled in the next step and used for the production of GOT BAG backpacks. The TÜV seal currently applied for also confirms that the start-up’s products are made from 100% recycled materials.
An innovative coating also provides an environmentally friendly, water-repellent layer on the textile of the GOT BAG. This coating helps avoid groundwater pollution and saves oil, water and CO2 during production. All GOT BAG products are free of PFC coatings.
Sustainable Awareness: GOT BAG provides education
It is important to the managers of GOT BAG to tackle the problem of pollution and littering of the oceans in a holistic way. That is why they do not limit their activities on site in Indonesia to cleaning and processing the PET into yarns. The other types of plastic recovered by fishermen are also fed into suitable recycling solutions. Here, GOT BAG works permanently with research partners on new and contemporary solutions.
The fishermen in the Demak region on the Indonesian island of Java have in the meantime become important multipliers for educating the local population. They communicate their knowledge of plastic waste and recycling and achieve greater environmental awareness and protection in their environment.
In addition to this, GOT BAG organizes workshops and events to increase the pressure on the authorities to find solutions for a sustainable waste system by raising awareness. The concept is working: In the meantime, those responsible are in close exchange with the government, which supports the work of the Mainzers and works with them to find long-term solutions for preserving intact ecosystems. Nevertheless, given the extent to which ocean littering has now reached worldwide, GOT BAG need not worry about running out of raw material for its backpacks.
Sea Shepherd X GOT BAG
In cooperation with environmental organizations, such as Sea Shepherd they have brought out a collection in which they donate 10% of the sales price to them, so as to support the organization directly.
Sea Shepherd conducts actions in international waters against whalers, sealers, and Japanese dolphin trappers, citing, among other things, the United Nations World Charter for Nature. In their own view, they are taking over law enforcement on the high seas, which is not being carried out by the governments that are actually responsible.
Find out more here in the interview with Sea Shepherd founder Captain Paul Watson.
Creative marketing as a growth lever for sustainable business
GOT BAG is also very successful economically. Only two years after the sales launch in 2018, the Mainz-based start-up is already listed with more than 160 retail partners in the DACH region.
Currently, a sweepstakes is going viral in which they are giving away a camper van worth 35,000 euros. Including Co2 compensation for the first 10,000 kilometers driven. The sweepstakes took on such momentum on Instagram that they gained over 200,000 new followers within 24 hours. OMR (Online Marketing Rockstars) currently writes “Got Bag plays through Instagram: With a sweepstakes to 200,000 new subscriptions in one day“.
The marketing campaign kicked off the GOT BAG Mystery Box, which comes out today on Singles Day. From 20:00 you have the opportunity to secure one of the strictly limited boxes.
Attention: We don’t want to spoil too much, but in cooperation with HeyBico you will find a lasting surprise in the Mystery Box.
Create an impact! - GOT BAG lives the vision
“We are a team – a family, a movement of visionary minds.” This motto of the founder Benjamin Mandos should also apply to the future, according to the conviction of those responsible at GOT BAG. Despite the rapid growth, they want to maintain the inspiring atmosphere of a start-up in the company. The idea of being committed to future generations and focusing on the development and implementation of sustainable solutions is firmly anchored in the company’s guiding principles. The team is convinced that the durability of the products and their recyclability are also important facets of sustainable business.
Chapeau! #createanimpact #thisisvegan
PS: Below you can find more info about the Got Bag competition!
Got Bag X This Is Vegan - Contest on Instagram
Today at 8:00 pm, for the release of the Got Bag Mystery Box, you have a chance to win a Got Bag Rolltop Backpack and a HeyBico reusable mug in the limited edition This Is Vegan Black design. Subscribe to us on Instagram, so you don’t miss out!
Sea Shepherd X This Is Vegan
This Is Vegan also wants to directly support Sea Shepherd and has released a sustainable reusable cup together with HeyBico, where a portion of the proceeds will be donated to them. You can find the sustainable coffee-to-go cup here .