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 were used since the 1800's, from the earliest years of pioneering and settling the United States. At the time these cloth sacks were introduced they made transport easier than the old barrels, boxes, and tins used to transport food staples, grains, flour, seeds, and animal feed,
Storing and transporting these goods in barrels, boxes and tins was replaced by this new cost-efficient cloth sack for many reasons. Because of the invention of the sewing machine, and the ability to sew a stronger seam than a hand-stitched seam, the cloth sack was the preferable method of storing and transporting goods. And, because it was lighter weight and easier to toss a cloth sack on the back of a horse than trying to transport bulky and heavier items, it became the preferable method of transporting goods.
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!
The Flour Sack: A Poem By Colleen B. Huber
In that long ago time when things were saved,
When roads were graveled and barrels were staved,
When worn-out clothing was used as rags,
And there were no plastic wrap or bags,
And the well and the pump were way out back,
A versatile item, was the flour sack. Pillsbury's Best,
Mother's and Gold Medal, too
Stamped their names proudly in purple and blue
The string sewn on top was pulled and kept;
The flour emptied and spills were swept.
The bag was folded and stored in a sack
That durable, practical flour sack.
The sack could be filled with feather and down,
For a pillow, or t'would make a sleeping gown.
It could carry a book and be a school bag,
Or become a mail sack slung over a nag.
It made a very convenient pack,
That adaptable, cotton flour sack.
Bleached and sewn, it was dutifully worn
As bibs, diapers, or kerchief adorned
It was made into skirts, blouses and slips
And mom braided rugs from one hundred strips
She made ruffled curtains for the house or shack,
From that humble but treasured flour sack!
As a strainer for milk or apple juice,
To wave men in, it was a very good use,
As a sling for a sprained wrist or a break,
To help mother roll up a jelly cake,
As a window shade or to stuff a crack,
We used a sturdy, common flour sack!
As dish towels, embroidered or not,
They covered up dough,
helped pass pans so hot,
Tied up dishes for neighbors in need,
And for men out in the field to seed.
They dried dishes from pan, not rack
That absorbent, handy flour sack!
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!"