Factory owner Alex DaBagh got the idea for his latest business venture by taking out the garbage.
“If I'm taking out this much trash every night, what's the rest of NYC doing? There's an alternative use for everything, you just need to think outside the box, and that's what we did with aNYBag,” said DaBagh, the founder of aNYBag Project — pronounced any bag.
DaBagh's company, Park Avenue Trimming, normally makes leather handbags, belts and accessories.
But now he's also transforming single-use plastic bags into a reusable tote bag. The plastic bags are cut into strips, and the strips are pieced together with a loom, creating what he calls the aNYBag — short for A New York Bag. In 15 months, he says he has recycled two-and-a-half tons of plastic.
The aNYBag can hold up to 100 pounds, it's made up of 95 single-use plastic bags and with every purchase 10% of the proceeds go to the New York City Parks Dept.
“I have two boys. I want them to have a clean park, the same way the same way I did when I was growing up in New York City. For me, it's ‘What can I do to make the world a better place for them to live?’” DaBagh said.
The state's ban on plastic bags was temporarily rescinded when the pandemic began, but is back in effect. Still, DaBagh says there are enough bags around to make the aNYBag.
"To end it, ban it and start fining people, what are you supposed to do with all of that inventory? Just to throw it out? Kind of defeats the purpose. You're going to have a surplus of plastic and waste,” DaBagh said.
When the pandemic hit, he closed briefly for a few weeks but opened to make personal protective equipment for hospitals, partly through money raised with a GoFundMe page.
The factory provided more than 16,000 masks and 200,000 aprons to city hospitals in a matter of weeks.
"I couldn't just see myself shutting down and not doing what we're meant to be to make things and support NYC with items,”DaBagh said.
So, he’s using his factory for multiple purposes, and in the case of aNYBag, to help the environment, and the city.
“My goal is to clean NYC up, one bag at a time."
For more information head to www.anybag.com.
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story misspelled Alex DaBagh’s name. It’s DaBagh, not DeBagh.