Ask the expert:  Do you have any recommendations for cost-conscious customers?

For cost-conscious customers, why not take a look at a 1/7 BBL SOS Grocery Sack?

The 1/7 BBL Grocery Sack is very subtly smaller than our popular 1/6 BBL Grocery Sack, but it is also less expensive. It is designed to hold roughly the same amount of product as a 1/6 BBL bag while reducing cost.  This allows you to save your customers money and potentially increase your margins!

one sixth vs one seventh_cropped 800_grey_v2_mailchimp.jpg

1/7 BBL vs. 1/6 BBL SACK FACTS:

  • 1/6 BBL = 12" x 7" x 17" 

  • 1/7 BBL = 11" x 7" x 16.75" 

  • 97% of the time what is loaded in a 1/6 bbl sack will fit in a 1/7 bbl sack

  • Saves warehouse space (roughly 10% space saving on full truckload volumes)

  • Saves on freight costs (roughly 9% savings on full truckload volumes)

We will happily send you a sample of both bags to compare! 

The Fascinating History of the Paper Grocery Bag.

Did you know that the inventor of the iconic brown grocery bag was a woman?  Thankfully, Margaret Knight, inventor of the flat-bottomed paper grocery bag, was a fighter, or none of us would have come to know the real story behind the invention of the now ubiquitous brown paper bag.

Margaret Knight  Image credit: Public Domain

Margaret Knight
Image credit: Public Domain

Margaret Knight was born February 14, 1838 in York, Maine and displayed a capacity for building and inventing from a young age.  As a child, the boys in her neighborhood sought her out for her skill in building sleds and kites.  At the age of twelve, Margaret went to work in a cotton mill to help provide for her family.  Factories at that time could be dangerous places to work, and Margaret witnessed an accident where a worker was injured from a steel-tipped shuttle flying off of a cotton loom.  Before her thirteenth birthday, Margaret had invented a shuttle restraint system to protect workers from errant shuttles.  Though she was never compensated for her invention, it was widely adopted by the cotton industry. 

Margaret went on to become capable in a wide variety of technical trades.  Eventually, she joined the Colombia Bag Factory in Springfield Massachusetts. Her job was to fold paper bags by hand, which was inefficient and prone to irregularities in the finished product.  With her signature curiosity and interest in improvement, Margaret began to work on designs for a machine that would automate the manufacturing of paper bags as well as modify them, so that they were flat on the bottom. 

Within six months Margaret had created a wooden prototype.  Her wooden model was a remarkable improvement on folding bags by hand, but it was not terribly sturdy.  To address this, Margaret sought out a machinist to create her design in iron.  Though accounts seem to vary, somewhere along the way Charles Anon became familiar with her design.  After further refinements to her design, Margaret filed for a patent only to be surprised that a patent had already been awarded to Charles Anon.

Her story could have ended here.  It was not typical for a woman to file for a patent in 1800’s.  Even today, less than 10% of “primary inventor” patent awardees are female.  On top of that, attorney fees were expensive, and Margaret’s income was modest.  The odds were certainly stacked against her, and Margaret could have very well given up.  Instead, she hired an expensive attorney and went to battle to rightfully claim this marvelous invention as her own.

Records of the case show that Margaret provided many drawings and could explain each step along the way as she brought her invention to life.  Mr. Anon, on the other hand, largely based his case on the argument that it wasn’t possible that a woman could have come up with the design.  The court sided in Margaret’s favor, and she was awarded a patent for her machine in 1871. 

A drawing of Margaret Knight’s bag machine.
Image credit: United States Patent and Trademark Office, Public Domain

Margaret’s bag was a substantial improvement upon the status quo of the day where shoppers brought their own containers or used paper cones.  Though there were improvements to her design over the years, including the invention of Charles Stilwell whose design added pleats to the sides that made folding and stacking easier, Margaret’s bag is remarkably similar to the brown paper grocery bag still in widespread use today.

Margaret continued a long, successful career as an inventor though she never become wealthy from her work.  She did eventually build a name for herself as the public became more aware of the contributions of female inventors.  She was featured in The New York Times in an article that explored a revolutionary idea for the time in the article, “Women as Inventors.”  Margaret is called out by name,

“The time has come now, however, when men must look to their laurels, for the modern field is full of women inventors.  The oldest of them and the one having most to her credit, is Miss Margaret E. Knight, who at the age of seventy is working twenty hours a day on her eighty-ninth invention.” The New York Times, October 19, 1913.

Our own founder Albert Ross (1914-2002) shared some of the same qualities as Margaret Knight.  He loved machines, and he was always trying to improve them.  He also had several of his designs patented, and you could often find him tinkering with new designs in his workshop.  His wife, Noreen Ross (1923 -1991), was also a pioneer in her own right.  She ran our office from our very earliest days, though in 1951 very few women were in the workforce.  Albert and Noreen are no longer with us, yet we still strive at Ross & Wallace to make them proud by valuing improvement, however small, in our effort to manufacture the highest quality products with the best possible service. 

Smithsonian Institute
The New York Times
The American Society of Mechanical Engineers
Encyclopedia Britannica
United States Patent and Trademark Office
The Museum of Modern Art

Learn how to make these gorgeous paper bag stars

Images, video, and craft via

These stunning paper bag stars are easier to make than they look. We promise!* They can be made with white or natural kraft paper bags in a variety of sizes - the larger the bags the larger the star. The bags do need to be the same size relative to each other to achieve this look.

12 Ross & Wallace paper grocery bags
1 large glue stick
Hole Punch

Completely coat the back of the bag with glue (the side without the bottom fold).

Place the front of another bag (the side with the bottom fold) on top of the bag you’ve just applied glue to and press down firmly.

Repeat step one and two until all twelve bags are glued and pressed in a stack.

Cut diagonally across each top edge of the stack of bags. Center cuts can also be added to vary the design.

Image via

Image via

Add glue to the back of the top bag in your stack and open the stack of bags, so that you can press the top bag firmly to the bottom bag in the stack forming your star. Hold until the glue sets.

Decorate! You can decorate the bags before or after you’ve created your star. To hang the star simply punch a hole and attach your string.

Click here to link to the original post where you can find decorating ideas and templates for other star patterns.


A love letter to paper bags

I miss my paper grocery bag

Image courtesy of the Louisiana Forestry Association.

Image courtesy of the Louisiana Forestry Association.

By Janet Tompkins

That’s right. I’d like to trade that mountain of flimsy plastic for six good strong paper bags. Walking in the grocery with bags full of plastic bags to return to the store’s “recycle” bin, I feel defeated when I walk out with more plastic. So I started comparing the trips when I get paper bags to those other days (which are more usual) when I get plastic.

My average grocery buy of $94 will fit in six good paper bags. But more frequently they are packed in 15 plastic bags with at least three more double-bagged for weight. That is where all the polyethylene bags come from in my storage room. I do this every week.

Paper bags are always recyclable, reusable, compostable and made from renewable resources. Plastic bags litter the landscape in Louisiana, but even if someone left a paper bag out at the picnic site, a few good rains would send it back to the forest from where it came.

In a misguided switch from paper to petroleum-based plastic bags, we now have a product that is less likely to be re-used by the patron or recycled by the industry. Paper bags are four times more often recycled than plastic bags, and paper bags usually contain 40 percent recycled content. Most of the people I see going into Kroger are not returning their plastic bags and the neighborhood Wal-Mart doesn’t even have a spot to return them.

Only 12 percent of plastic waste gets recycled and the rest that goes to landfills will live on for as much as a thousand years. Slow decomposition isn’t the only problem. Plastic absorbs pollutants like PCBs making the long-lived garbage even more dangerous. Some scientists say when this toxic mix ends up in our oceans it can cause cancer and dangerous mutations to those creatures that encounter it. China is the biggest dumper in this regard, but so do other poorer countries.

I know what some of you are thinking: Why don’t I just buy the reusable bags that are required in some metropolitan cities? One study found that 50 percent of the reused bags had bacteria (including E. coli in 12 percent) and 97 percent of people did not wash them ... ever.

The instructions say never to put them in the baby carrier section of the cart while shopping because that is the most bacteria-ridden spot; never use them for another purpose (like gym bags) and don’t keep them in your car because of high heat and increased growth of bacteria. What? Don’t keep them in your car? That would be the only way I would remember to have them with me. (Even then, I might have to walk back out to the car from the store.)

They also suggest that each bag be kept to the same grocery category each time. Produce would always go in the red bag, cleaning supplies in the green one, etc., to prevent cross contamination. The result is people are buying and re-buying their permanent grocery bags. How is that for saving the planet?

I prefer my bacteria-free paper bag. It might even have been made from kraft paper in Campti at the International Paper Mill. Louisiana workers used to make a ton of bags in Hodge, but after the mass exodus to plastic bags, that mill now makes cardboard packaging instead. Thank goodness we kept that mill and all those jobs.

When my forest landowner friends say they need a market for their first thinnings, I think of the paper mill making bags. The production of paper bags also produces 59 percent less greenhouse gas than plastic and uses 33 percent less fossil fuels.  

The last time my 4-year-old grandson went to a big zoo, he didn’t get a top or a straw with his frozen drink. You see there’s a campaign against plastic in the concession operations because of the danger to wildlife. A paper bag never hurt a thing. (By the way, didn’t we use to have paper straws?)

Change isn’t always bad, of course. Progress requires change, but sometimes we opt for the lesser value while not improving a thing. I’d really like a comeback for the paper grocery bag. Could I also get handles on the bag? That’s not required of course, but would be nice.

I need some when the tomatoes come in and when I go to pick up some fresh corn. I need some when I want to line the kitchen table for my grandson’s art project and I have stuff to haul to Goodwill.

I’ll continue to look under the counter at the grocery to see what they have for me as I pine for my paper bag. Oh, by the way, I miss my daily newspaper.

(Janet Tompkins retired from the Louisiana Forestry Association in 2016. She was editor of Forests & People for 22 years.)

Article is courtesy of the Louisiana Forestry Association.


Gingerbread House Paper Bags

There's something even more sweet about a gift wrapped with a personal touch and tender care. 

We think these miniature gingerbread houses made from a natural kraft SOS grocery bag are just the thing to hold a cookie, a card, or a small trinket.  Believe it or not, they are also easy to make!

Start by gathering your supplies:

  • Small paper bag (any size will work)
  • Hole punch
  • Ribbon or twine
  • Puffy paint, crayons, or stickers

Design your gingerbread house:

  • Using puff paint or a crayon, decorate your paper bag keeping in mind that the top corners will eventually be folded to make your roof.  You can also use stickers or other embellishments to add a pop of color or visual interest.
  • Once your paint has dried, open the bag and fold the top corners of the bag down to create a triangle
  • Use a hole punch to create two holes

Gather your goodies!

  • Gather the goodies of your choice, and place them in your open bag

  • Tie with twine, string, or ribbon of your choosing

Enjoy your handiwork:

And remember, any flaws are just part of the charm!


Paper Bag Turkeys

Learn how to make an adorable centerpiece for your kid's table with just a couple of brown bags, white paper, a glue gun, and some scissors. 

You can refer to our previous post, How to Make Popcorn in a Paper Bag for a healthy, easy "stuffing."

Start by gathering your supplies:

  • One 1/6 BBL SOS grocery sack (ask at the checkout counter of your local grocery store)
  • Two 2# natural grocery bags or other small size (ask at the bakery counter of your local grocery store)
  • A hot glue gun
  • Scissors
  • White copy paper (8 1/2 x 11") 
  • Three to four bags of popcorn, or see our post about how to make your own! How to Make Popcorn in a Paper Bag

    Make the frills:

    • Cut your 8 1/2 x 11" white paper lengthwise
    • Fold both pieces in half lengthwise
    • Use the scissors to make small cuts on the folded side to create loops

    Create your drumsticks:

    • Make a fist and stick your hand inside one of the small, brown bags
    • Using your free hand, mold the top of the bag into a more rounded shape
    • Fill 2/3 of the bag with popcorn and twist the bottom of the bag to keep it tight
    • Use the hot glue gun to secure the white frill on the bottom of your drumstick and glue the end of the frill to itself to keep it in place
    • Repeat for second drumstick

    Form the turkey's body:

    • Use the the larger brown grocery sack to create the body of your turkey
    • Similarly to your drumsticks, use your hands to smush the edges of the sack into a round shape
    • Fill the bag with popcorn
    • Fold the left and right edges at the bottom of the bag under, so you have three straight edges instead of one large one
    • Tuck the bottom edge of the bag under and hot glue gun it shut

    Isn't it a beauty?  Garnish with parsley, gourds, or any other fall favorites, and have an adult "carve" your bird for your guests to enjoy before the main event.  This one is sure to be a crowd pleaser for kids and adults alike!


    How to make a book cover from a paper grocery Sack.

    You can quickly, easily, and creatively protect textbooks from wear and tear with just a brown paper grocery sack!  

    What you’ll need:

    1. Standard 1/6 barrel grocery sack.  Ask at your local grocery store for a paper sack at check out.
    2. Scissors
    3. A Pencil
    Brown paper grocery bag with dictionary and scissors

    Step One:

    Open the bag and cut along a side seam from top to bottom and then all the way around the bottom of the bag until you are left with one large rectangle of paper and a small rectangle of paper that had previously been the bottom of the bag.  Discard the small rectangle, or have your kids cut it into strips and decorate it for book marks!

    Brown paper grocery bag cut and flattened

    Step Two:

    Lay your book in the center of the large rectangle of paper.  Use a pencil to mark the top and bottom of the bag then fold along the lines you made (longways).  Press the folds firmly, so that you have a crisp edge.

    Brown paper grocery bag with dictionary

    Step Three:

    Move the book to the left edge of the newly folded rectangle of paper.  Take the left edge of the paper so that it wraps around the left end of the book’s cover by about one third to one half of the width of the inside cover.  Remove the book and then fold the left edge to make a crisp crease in the paper.  Once you’ve made your crease, slip the cover of the book inside the edges of the fold.  Slide the cover down until it fits snugly against your crease.

    Natural Kraft SOS Grocery Bag book cover

    Step Four:

    Brown paper bag book cover

    Leaving the cover of the book tucked into the cover, take the right edge of the folded rectangle of paper and fold it over the back cover of the book so that it covers  between ½ and 1/3 of the back cover of the book when the book is closed.  You may need to trim down your folded rectangle of paper to fit your book.  Once you’ve measured and trimmed your paper, fold and press firmly.  As in step three, tuck the back cover of your book into the paper fold to secure the cover on your book.



    Finished brow paper grocery bag book cover

    You’ve successfully constructed a sturdy book cover from a brown paper bag.  If it’s for a child’s book, we suggest having them write in the name of the book and decorate it to their liking.  


    Some of our "junior" staff are excited to share their book cover creations with you.  Good luck in the new school year Braden Pete, Ashlyn, and Andrew!

    Braden Pete, Kindergarten 

    Braden Pete, Kindergarten 

    Ashlyn, Pre-K

    Ashlyn, Pre-K

    Andrew, First Grade

    Andrew, First Grade

    Want to Save Trees? Choose Paper.

    Part of what we all understand to be true is also entirely accurate – to make paper you must use trees.  What is a little less intuitive is that using paper products actually supports forests.  

    What it boils down to is that if there is demand for wood-based products like paper, there is incentive for landowners to maintain and responsibly manage forestland, which provides income.  Without the demand for wood-based products like paper, the land maintained as forests would likely be put to another economically beneficial use.

    Unlike in generations past where poor logging practices could be destructive, today’s forest owners follow national, state, and local requirements to grow forests in a way that preserves ecosystems and growth.  By using wood-based products like paper, consumers can contribute to maintaining a healthy forestry industry. 

    In fact, since the government began tracking forests in the 1950’s there are millions more acres of forestland than a generation ago!

    Don’t just save a tree, save a forest. – choose paper.

    Want to know more?  
    Please visit: Two Sides NA


    Plastic bags are a nuisance to many recycling facilities.

    Did you know that many recycling facilities do not accept plastic bags?  Though it seems counterintuitive, one of the best ways to help your municipality’s recycling efforts is to know what NOT to put into your recycling bin.

    Recyclables entering a single stream recycling process are sorted by automated equipment.  When plastic bags become wrapped around sorting disks, the equipment can no longer sort efficiently.  This results in staff having to routinely halt production  to clear the bags away from the sorting disks. 

    Lisa Disbrow, Director of Public Affairs for Waste Management's CID Recycling Center in Chicago, cites that the problems arising from plastic bags account for tens of thousands of dollars in added costs to the recycling process.  In addition to the incease in processing costs, clogs in the recycling equipment can cause mixed bales, which cannot be used by manufacturers and must be re-processed.

    The moral of the story is to keep those plastic bags out of your recycling bin.  You can rest at ease that your plastic bags will do more harm than good in the recycling bin.  On the other hand, please DO make sure that your paper grocery bags go into the recycling bin as they are widely accepted and easily recycled.


    Five Tips for Recycling During the Holidays

    Did you know that Americans throw away 25% more trash during the holiday season?

    That’s 25 million tons of extra garbage! Take these five easy steps to go green during the holidays.  

    1.) Skip the shiny wrapping paper.  In many areas it cannot be recycled, so check before you put it in the blue bin.  Instead, use untreated paper, like Ross & Wallace’s kraft paper, that can be recycled easily.  Kraft paper looks great plain, but if you have kids at home, we suggest enlisting the them to draw designs on it for a festive touch that keeps them entertained.

    2.) DO recycle your boxes, cans, and paper.  In the days of online holiday shopping, there are quite a few empty boxes laying around.  Though they can be cumbersome, cardboard boxes as well as cans, plastic milk jugs, and bottles are “high value” recyclables, but 69% of plastic bottles and 45% of aluminum cans don’t get recycled.

    3.) Keep plastic bags OUT of the recycling bin.  Though some grocery and retail stores will collect used plastic bags for recycling, they can clog equipment and shut down an entire recycling plant.  Because of this, Recycle Often Recycle Right has asked that plastic bags not be placed in with general recycling.  Deposit plastic bags at participating stores, but keep them out of your at-home bin.

    4.) Go compostable!  Soiled paper plates, cups, and napkins are not recyclable.  It’s best to opt for reusable items, but if you go the disposable route, look for compostable brands.  

    5.) Keep it clean and dry.  Soggy items can spoil an entire load of recycling!


    Plastic is out - Paper and Reusable Bags are in.

    California passed a statewide ban on single-use plastic carryout bags.

    GET THE FACTS on Proposition 67 “The Plastic Bag Ban.”

    • SENATE BILL 270 – In 2014 the California legislature passed Senate Bill 270, which prohibited certain businesses statewide from providing single-use plastic carryout bags and required businesses to charge customers for any other type of carryout bag provided at checkout.

    • PROPOSITION 67 – The implementation of Senate Bill 270 was suspended, because Proposition 67, which would eliminate the law, qualified to be on the 2016 ballot.  Proposition 67 asked California voters to decide whether the statewide carryout bag law should be upheld or rejected. On November 8, 2016, California’s voters passed Proposition 67, which upheld Senate Bill 270.

    • IMPACTS - Proposition 67 prohibits certain California stores (most grocery stores, convenience stores, large pharmacies, and liquor stores) from providing single-use plastic carryout bags statewide.

    • PAPER AND REUSABLE BAGS – Proposition 67 allows businesses to sell recycled paper bags and reusable bags at a minimum price of $.10 cents per bag.

    • EXCLUDES – Proposition 67 excludes bags for select purposes, such as wrapping unwashed produce and bags for prescription medications.  It also excludes certain types of stores such as retail clothing stores.  Certain low- income customers are also exempt.

    • FINES - ($1,000) per day for the first violation, two thousand dollars ($2,000) per day for the second violation, and five thousand dollars ($5,000) per day for the third and subsequent violations.

    • SUPPORTERS – Albertsons Safeway, The California Grocers Association, Surfrider Foundation, Clean Water Action.

    CASE STUDY: San Jose California
    San Jose’s Bring Your Own Bag Ordinance went into effect January 1, 2012.  Since then San Jose has reported a 76% reduction in plastic bags found in creeks and rivers as of the end of the 2016 hotspot season and a 69% reduction in plastic bags in storm drain inlets.