This nifty bag is made by Rickshaw. For those not in the know, there are pretty much three main messenger bag producers in San Francisco: Rickshaw, Timbuk2 (whom we’ve mentioned before), and Chrome. They’re all pretty much indestructible and awesome, but they each have their own character and have managed to carve out nice little niches in San Francisco where they produce their bags and other human-powered hauling accoutrement.

After pimping out the new Timbuk2 Snoop Camera Messenger a few days back, Chris, the fellow in charge of marketing at Rickshaw dropped us a line to check out what they do. We’re not the type of folks to reject an invitation for a behind-the-scenes anything, so we happily accepted and headed out to the Dogpatch for a tour. Ah, but they’re in the Dogpatch, so why are we covering this here? Well, Chris is not only a really tall guy, but also a proud Loin resident and Tenderblog reader. There’s also a story behind that Tenderloin “branded” bag up top there, which I’ll get to.

Essentially, Rickshaw’s primary focus (in addition to making a good bag) is on sustainability. Their “Zero” bag is designed to produce a bag with no waste, so they have a pattern that allows them to cut out equal rectangles during fabrication and end up with no scrap when done, which is pretty cool. There is also a litany of other preachings that they do indeed practice when it comes to being a sustainable and responsible manufacturer, but the one that is a good deal of the point of this article is here:

That is a detail shot of these long banners on poles around the Cable Car Turnaround on Powell Street. They list the names of a variety of San Francisco neighborhoods, especially ones that people don’t visit that often such as–oh freakin’ wait for it–The Tenderloin.

While the banners are a nice decoration, there’s much more to them than they first appear to be. As we learned from Rickshaw CEO, Mark Dwight, outdoor promotional banners are made from PVC, which, despite its widespread use, is wicked shit (read more here). Those banners at Powell are not made from PVC and are in fact made from a form of polyester, which is infinitely more recyclable and less harmful to we humans and the earth in general. Rickshaw has convinced the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau (who own those poles) to stop making those banners in PVC, and is now working with them to try hanging the banners for their specified advertising time, take them down, and then convert them to bags, basically making the banner element to be just one part of the use cycle of the material.

We have to say that we were pretty impressed by all this and Chris, we seriously want one of the Tenderloin bags if we can get one as we’ve been having wet bag dreams about it (although we know that they’re not to be sold since they were just a test/tease to show the SFCVB). Naturally, this being San Francisco, other manufacturers are trying similar things too, but with mixed results due to any number of reasons. It’s good to know that people are working to make products that are to exist within the frame of larger sustainability, even though yeah, we’re well aware that our meager actions towards conservation are meaningless on a world scale at the moment (to quote Tenderfriend Scurvy, who was saying it only half in jest, “Anything you do will be undone by the Chinese or the Indians who collectively really just don’t give a fuck”).

So it goes, but whatever your eco-thinking, you gotta admit that these bags look pretty damned cool.