With the statewide plastic bag ban going into effect this weekend, one New Yorker has made it his mission to give plastic bags a second life.
Alex Dabagh is a leathersmith by trade but he recently developed a passion for plastic. The Brooklyn native noticed how much plastic waste his factory has been collecting and wanted to put the trash to good use.
"What can I do with all the waste I'm collecting through my factory that comes in here on a daily basis and all the waste I consume at home?," Dabagh asked himself.
Then he had the idea to weave plastic bags the same way he weaves leather. After six months of trial and error, he ended up with what he calls "aNYbag."
Dabagh created a reusable tote bag by hand, using around 95 single-use plastic bags. The bags get cut into strips, then fused together with heat to create one long, weave-able piece. The pieces get placed on a spool and sent to the loom.
"After it's woven on the loom, we take it off and you can see this one of a kind roll of plastic textile," Dabagh explained. "My slogan for this is 'made by New Yorkers in New York City using New York City waste."
A staggering 23 billion plastic bags are used annually across New York state, and 10 billion of them are just in New York City. The single-use plastic ban that's going into effect on March 1 is the state's attempt at reducing pollution.
Each of the finished tote is the equivalent of 2-3 lbs of upcycled plastic, Dabagh said, and it costs $138.
Part of the proceeds goes to the City Parks Foundation.
"My kids are young and they play in the park so why not give something back to them. I had a clean place growing up in the city, in Brooklyn, so why can't my kids have the same thing," said Dabagh. "This is to make a better place for them to live and play."
Dabagh says his factory will accept plastic bag donations from anyone who wants to get rid of them. Holes and tears are fine, as long as the bags are clean.