About Us - Ecosilk Bags


Ecosilk Bags strive to provide affordable, functional, practical, beautiful, long lasting shopping and other bags to specifically reduce plastic bag use. There is no ‘inbuilt obsolescence’ involved in the design process – they are meant to last for as long as possible, and eliminate as many plastic bags as possible, whilst bringing great satisfaction to the user.

Ecosilk Bags were created in 1999 by Emily Hay, who was dismayed by the widespread acceptance of plastic bag use in society, and the lack of viable alternatives. Whilst this phenomenon has completely changed, with a huge range of reusable shopping bags now available, back then there were almost no other options than to use plastic bags.

As a patternmaker/fashion designer, Emily developed the basic design of a singlet plastic bag, using a durable nylon fabric called parachute silk and advanced sewing techniques for strength. After trialling the bags for two years and finding them to be ideal in every way, she started the business – Ecosilk Bags – in January 2001, with some initial help from a friend. The bag production began on the kitchen table, where they were cut and machined by Emily, but by 2005 had grown to mass production in China. The first bags were sold in local health food shops, and then expanded to include gift shops, book shops, post offices and printing for corporate and government departments.

The business grew consistently and peaked in 2009, after which the impact of the global financial crisis resulted in steadily decreasing sales and financial stress. Ecosilk Bags managed to weather the challenges and changing times but downsized to adapt.

In 2017, the major supermarkets decided to phase out lightweight single use plastic bags, which created a shift in the market. People chose their bags – either long lasting reusable shopping bags such as Ecosilk Bags, budget reusable shopping bags such as the ‘Green’ bags, or 15 cent plastic bags.

Ecosilk Bags rebranded with an environmental theme highlighting the Great Barrier Reef and the impact of plastics in the ocean. The focus is now on making packs of four and six in both shopping and shoulder bags, with Great Barrier Reef themes to make attractive gifts and bring a fresh focus on endangered marine life. A percentage of the sales of packs is donated to the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS), which looks after the Great Barrier Reef and surrounding seas of Australia.

Current market trends, post Covid, have meant a substantial reduction in retail outlets and an increase in online sales. Ecosilk Bags continues to produce good quality, colourful, vibrant reusable shopping bags to make you feel good!

The bags are sold throughout Australia in a small number of shops, with just a few international outlets. The business operates from Emily’s property in Barkers Vale, in the Northern Rivers area of New South Wales, Australia.


In 2004, moving manufacturing ‘offshore’ to cheaper, often third world countries, was questionable. Society was still very much invested in ‘Australian Made’ products. There was, and still is today with the rise of fast fashion, a sense that ethical workplaces are a nice idea but not necessarily a reality. The murky practices of child labour, forced overtime, minimal days off and only the basic holidays are still prevalent with companies like Shein.

It was therefore a difficult decision to move the manufacturing to China, but a necessary one to remain financially viable and competitive in a world that was becoming increasingly global. Owner Emily Hay was determined to find manufacturers who treated their employees well, fairly and respectfully. Accordingly, a ‘good’ manufacturer was found, who ticked all the ethical boxes, and that business relationship continues to this day, twenty years on.

A statement from owner Jenny Rong, China 2004: “I appreciate very much that you are concerned with Chinese workers working conditions. We don’t employ child workers, and our workers are paid fairly and never forced to work overtime. Our workers enjoy the holidays according to our government rules. Also, the working environment is not very very nice, but it is not bad, either.”

Back in 2004, the aim of Ecosilk Bags to move manufacturing to China was to pass on those savings to the customer, not to pocket exorbitant profits. The intention of the business is to provide quality yet affordable shopping bags, to eliminate as many plastic bags as possible. That resolution continues to this day, with the increased cost of living causing widespread misery and anxiety in Australia and across the world. Just one Ecosilk Shopping bag, valued at $12.00 will eliminate at least a thousand plastic bags in its lifetime. Let’s make plastic bags extinct, one bag at a time 😊

Production in 2006

Production in 2008

Quality control in 2015