Waste equals food for Eli Reich and his company Alchemy Goods, which turns old bike tire tubes, advertising banners, and seat belt straps into messenger and tote bags. Reich started the company in a quest to create a hip, stylish, waterproof, and environmentally-friendly bag after his old messenger bag was stolen. Alchemy Goods espouses a “turning useless into useful” tagline, and denotes the recycled content percentage (by weight) within the Ag label on every product, ala the periodic table.

Alchemy Goods, recycled seatbelt bottle openers, recycling seat belts, Eli Reich, sustainable fashion, sustainable messenger bags, eco-friendly bags

All products exceed 70 percent recycled content, and Alchemy Goods’ latest item, a bottle opener made from a seat belt clasp, is its first to achieve a 100 (fully recycled). Reich has long used old seat belt straps for his bags, but never had a use for the extra clasps. He tested many types of clasps and finally found just the right one— from car models that use an in-the-door seat belt system. He then located a local blacksmith to bend, grind and polish the clasp in such a way to pop a bottle top. Alchemy Goods produced 175 bottle openers around Thanksgiving, which all sold out by Christmas.

But Alchemy Good’s bags are the mainstays of the company. They are durable and unique, each touting its own markings—old tire tubes for the messenger and haversack bags, and pieces of advertising banners on the “ad bag.” The ad bag is perfect as a summer tote and is 95 percent recylced. Alchemy Goods also manufactures wallets, ID and card holders, money clips, and zipper pulls. And consumer demand has Reich planning a laptop bag, so stayed tuned in 2007.

As for the recycling itself, Alchemy Goods works with Seattle-area bike shops to make collecting old tire tubes easy. Reich and his staff provide collection boxes and visit the shops regularly. Alchemy Goods recently expanded this program to work with stores across the country via mail, and already has 55 participating stores outside of Seattle.

+ Alchemy Goods