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New Orleans entrepreneur empowers shoppers with eco-friendly bags

Jodi Stiede is using her business venture, Gaia Bags, to take New Orleans to the forefront of the eco-revolution

Re-usable shopping bags are all the rage these days.  They come in a variety of sizes and colors, and you can sport your favorite labels like Whole Foods Market or Rouses all while making an environmental fashion statement at the grocery store.

However, what if that re-usable shopping bag could make an even larger impact in your life? What if your shopping bag could provide money to a charity, substantially save our environment, and maybe even save you money?

That is the ultimate goal behind Gaia Bags.

Founded by Louisiana native Jodi Stiede, the company’s goal is to raise awareness about the detrimental impact that plastic, paper, and polypropylene bags have on the environment, and to provide our global community with an eco-friendly fair wage, fair labor cotton canvas bag alternative. And, as a little lagniappe, 25 cents of each all-natural bag sold goes to local charities.

Gaia Bags was established in South Florida as the Canvas Bag Program last February.  It was used initially as a fundraising tool for charities and organizations all over the United States.  In August, Jodi moved back to New Orleans from Miami to launch Gaia Bags, and help bring the city to the forefront of the eco-revolution.  Since its launch, the company has donated more than $1,250 to charities such as the Children’s Miracle Network and Gulf restoration efforts, raised more than $2,000 for public schools and distributed more than 12,500 bags nationwide.

The environmental message is pretty significant, too.  Each plastic bag takes 450 years to biodegrade, putting wildlife at risk for years to come. Each year, one million birds and one hundred thousand sea animals die after ingesting discarded plastic bags. While paper bags are safer, 14 million trees are cut per year in the U.S. to supply that demand.

Due to the overwhelming negative impact of disposable bags, many cities have started charging extra for bags at the grocery store.  And, while it may be years before New Orleans area grocery stores start implementing extra fees for their plastic bags, we can start making a significant impact before we are forced to. After all, we’ve shown the country how progressive we can be, so why not continue to manifest this mindset within an environmental movement as well?

Visit the Gaia Bags website to learn more about ways you can partner with Gaia Bags to raise money for your school or favorite local organization, or purchase a New Orleans themed canvas bag. 

Adriana Lopez writes about the entrepreneurial community for NolaVie and Silicon Bayou News. She also showcases local start-ups through her non-profit organization GenNOLA. For more information on NolaVie, go to



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