Innovation

World Paper Bag Day, July 12: Story Of The School Teacher Who Invented Paper Bags

Chanya Kapoor
World Paper Bag Day, July 12: Story Of The School Teacher Who Invented Paper Bags

Paper Bags, in the past couple of decades, have become a vital part of our lives due to their increased environmental and economic significance. It has been a part of every industry directly or indirectly, from the grocery store in our neighbourhood to the fashion and gift packaging industry. The viability and durability have definitely made it a ‘go-to’ product in the market.  

Did you know World Paper Bag Day is celebrated every year on July 12? Interestingly, our easily available and accessible product has a long and unique trajectory of its own. It was a school teacher named Francie Wolle who invented the first paper bag machine in 1852, with the idea of producing a bag which could hold objects. He was a grocery clerk turned school teacher to a clergyman. This idea came to him while working at his father’s grocery store, where his observation skills became the source of his inspiration. The main idea behind this invention was to allow customers at the store to hold more purchased goods in a bag.  

His consumer-centred product gained prominence when he found an enterprise, Union Bag & Company. The plant brought benefits not only to the consumers, but also became a source of jobs for more than 500 workers, and eventually, an attraction for the tourists as well. His paper bag, which was shaped like a mailing envelope that we use today, could be used for multiple purposes from carrying groceries to documents. 

Later, his innovation was taken ahead by inventors like Margaret Knight and Charles Stilwell who designed the square-bottoms of the paper bags which made them easily foldable and usable.  

Paper bag is an innovation which has acted as a boon to mankind due to its environment-friendly nature. Learning of Wolle from his classroom role to distinct roles he opted for, he took each experience as a learning opportunity and went beyond to invent a change through his due motivation and inspiration. His discovery proves that the knowledge of teachers is not limited to a classroom. They very-well know that ideas and possibilities can be created in a 4x4 room and that’s exactly what they teach to their students as well - that opportunities exist all around us, all we need to do is reflect. 

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