Harvesting plastic, airbags and old wool clothing to make the latest handbags

By Lori Lee

For Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 25 2012 11:53 a.m. MST

It’s been popular for some time now to show concern for the environment, and now the outdoor industry is reusing the used and crafting handbags with style.

A company called Keen took a pile of factory scraps, desire to be environmentally conscious and some creative thinking, and in 2007 launched its Hybrid Transport bag line. For 2012 Keen is introducing the Harvest III series made from repurposed automobile airbags, harvested in the U.S., dyed rich colors and designed into tote bags. Keen has gone so far as to hand number each bag, to establish each as an individual work of art. For more information, visit www.recess.keenfootwear.com.

Another company, Timbuk2, has a bag collection callled Full-Cycle that is made from 100 percent recycled material, mostly plastics, and the bags can be recycled when use is over. Just cut off the buckles and zippers and throw it in your recycle can. Based in San Francisco, Timbuk2 claims to be the company that pioneered the messenger bag. In 1989, in a garage in San Francisco, a bike messenger named Rob Honeycutt took an old sewing machine and started what would become a company focused on urban adventure bags. Four new bags will be available Fall of 2012. For more information, visit www.timbuk2.com.

Sue Burns is the founder and CEO of BaaBaaZuZu. She started the business making jackets. The company now has 18 employees and uses more than 3,000 pounds of discardable salvaged wool each month. The line includes handbags with clasps made from reclaimed jewelry along with mittens, scarves and hats. Some bags are finished and polished, while others sport a more ragged style. The bags range from $50-$110 each. For more information, visit www.baabaazuzu.com.

Lori Lee is a freelance writer specializing in the outdoor recreation industry.

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