One person’s waste is another’s treasured bag
“We are just two girls from San Marcos who want to change the world.” — Romina Rossel
Vivacious, energetic and passionate, the Rossel sisters have launched a fashionable answer to the plastic crisis that is plaguing the craft beer market.
Although largely unrecognized, the amount of plastic generated from used malt bags is adding mountains of trash to landfills in San Diego County. Founded in 2018, the sisters’ company, The Bountiful Bag, repurposes the used bags from local breweries, and fashions them into totes, duffels and a variety of stylish items.
In addition, Fiorella and Romina Rossel support I Love a Clean San Diego, donating 10% of their gross profits to the charity. PACIFIC sat down with the pair to find out more about their bags, inspiration and what’s up next for the dynamic duo.
PACIFIC: What inspired you to start The Bountiful Bag?
FIORELLA: I had worked for Iron Fist (Brewing Company), so I went in just to say “hi” one day and the owner, Greg Sieminski, came to me with a malt bag and said “What can you do with this?” I thought, “Oh my gosh, this is really cool, what can I do with it?” That was January 2018.
What is your design background?
FIORELLA: The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in L.A. My goal was to have a clothing line. I always wanted to do eco fabrics that are comfortable, convenient and good for the traveler.
What are your line of products?
ROMINA: We produce a classic tote (The Bountiful Bag), small and large duffel bag, backpack, pouch, growler koozie with neoprene inside we call the “Brews Cooze,” a two growler holder, along with stockings and Santa hats for Christmas.
What was the first thing you created?
FIORELLA: The Bountiful Bag!
What malt bags do you use?
ROMINA: Great Western, Rahr, BSG and Weyermann
What breweries do you source your bags from?
ROMINA: Iron Fist, Mike Hess (Brewing), Booze Brothers (Brewing Co.), Wild Barrel (Brewing), Black Plague (Brewing), Nickel Beer Company, and El Segundo (Brewing Company) is our L.A. partner.
What is a memorable moment in the business so far?
FIORELLA: Melanie Pierce, from Brewbies and Vans Warped Tour, connected us with Kevin Lyman (founder of the tour), who offered us the tablecloths, tarps, tents and banners from the concerts. We made the first batch of items, Vans Warped Tour posted about it, and it sold out in nine minutes! I was jumping up and down. We will be making a full line in July.
ROMINA: On our very first Instagram post about the bags, Fiorella wrote, “these bags are so sturdy, you can throw them off a cliff and the cliff will break.” The owner of Weyermann commented “Love my bags, love your bags. Thanks for reusing our bags!” Our very first post!
What’s been the biggest challenge?
FIORELLA: When we discovered the volumes of bags were that huge, I got really scared. We had our own landfill at our house. We were collecting and cleaning. I called EDCO (environmental services) and every recycling place in the state of California, and no one would take them.
ROMINA: Then it rained all over the bags. We spent a day with gloves, packing them into four full loads to the dump. And that was only from 10 small breweries over three months. We were covered in mud and worms, and it physically opened our eyes. That’s why we became so passionate.
We hear you’ve won an award?
FIORELLA: Yes! It was the ZeroWaste Innovation Award by I Love A Clean San Diego for 2018. It’s the most humbling award I’ve never received, and with someone so prestigious. I cried the entire ceremony.
Where can folks buy your bags and upcycled goodies?
ROMINA: Online on our website and an handful of breweries for the classic totes, including Wild Barrel, Eppig, Mike Hess, and El Segundo in L.A.
What’s a message you’d like to send out there to readers?
FIORELLA: The single-use plastic issue that we are facing is way bigger than people think. It’s really bad. There is no throwing away, you guys.
ROMINA: Doing this opened our eyes. It made us aware of an issue that is global. What we wanna do at this point, is awareness. At this point there are mountains and mountains of plastic bags out there. It’s very scary.
THE BOUNTIFUL BAG 1-YEAR ANNIVERSARY
When: April 14
Where: Wild Barrel Brewing, 692 Rancheros Dr., San Marcos
When: April 28
Where: Balboa Park
To get your own Bountiful Bag and support sustainability in the craft beer industry, go to rosselcompany.com