Turning Trash into Treasure

An NYC leather artisan is using plastic waste to create tote bags

By Aryana Noroozi and Caroline Chen

Alex Dabagh is the son of Lebanese immigrants and leather artisans. It was only natural that he took up the family craft at their Park Avenue leather factory, now one of the last operating leather factories in New York City.  Dabagh took over after his father’s retirement, working alongside his employees to produce high-end leather goods for designers.  As a craftsman of leather, Dabagh never really thought much about sustainability. But that changed when he realized he could make a textile from trash. Influenced by the ever-growing litter on New York City streets, Dabagh applied his leather bag production techniques to make totes from plastic bag waste.  Last year, using approximately 95 plastic bags, Dabagh made his first tote—what he called an aNYbag.  Today the aNYbag has become a popular product among New Yorkshoppers who have sustainability in mind.  Dabagh now works with New York City community groups to collect plastic bags and repurpose waste.


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