Sustainable fashion lovers don’t care about “It” bags! you say. I know, I know but hear me out. We all know single use plastic bags impact the environment in devastating ways; sitting in landfills, polluting oceans, and wounding animals. They are hard to recycle and end up in the trash more times than not. Yet their lifespan is estimated to be between 400 and 1000 years. Alex Dabagh is here to turn this stubborn trash into a reusable, unique fashion item that creates almost zero waste, emissions, or a carbon footprint.
Produced out of a factory where the Dabagh family has made leather goods since 1982, Alex saw an opening to deal with the plastic waste. A leather designer by trade, would it be possible to weave plastic in the same way he weaves leather? I was lucky to attend a recent aNYbag factory walkthrough where everyone was given free range to explore the space and see how the bags were made. We were also introduced to Alex who radiated positivity.
If we can weave leather, which is one of our specialties in the factory, then why not figure out a way to start weaving plastic? -Alex Dabagh
He immediately started collecting any form of plastic: single use, dense, bubblewrap, ziplocs and bread bags. He even told his Mom, “Start collecting every bag that comes into the house, I have a purpose for it”. The community also supports his effort with local grocery stores and schools collecting single use plastic on his behalf. They already have 1600 pounds of plastic on the premises and the more they have, the less is littering the streets of the city.
Alex is positive his bag will become a phenomenon and I can only agree. While he jokes about building a business made to go out of business, his passion for the project is clear: when there are no more plastic bags to create these totes, his job will be done. In the meantime he states “Since we can’t eradicate plastic entirely, the next best solution is to find an alternative purpose that we can proudly stand behind.”
The aNYbag, created out of 95 plastic bags (the kind that NYC just banned)! are all unique and hand woven by NYC artisans. The bag transforms into whatever shape you carry and is easy to push back into its original contour when empty. With a weight tolerance of 50-75 lbs., these bags last a lifetime. If it rips, send it back and they fix it! And while upcycling is expensive, (each aNYbag is priced at $138) if one takes into account the price of labor, the time to create a “new” textile, it seems a small price to pay for trash transformed to luxury. And with part of the proceeds going to the City Parks Foundation, what better way to keep NYC plastic(bag) free.
photos courtesy Alex Dabagh @aNYbagproject @madebyAlex