As we turn the page on yet another season and say goodbye to summer days, the ever-green focus of 1-800-RECYCLING shifts to autumn with a look at sustainable apparel. In always eco-friendly Seattle, Alchemy Goods offers creatively “upcycled” bags and accessories that turn heads and save resources. Drawing on the legend of ancient “alchemists” — those who attempted to turn ordinary base metals into precious silver and gold — this company strives to create a product more valuable than its ingredients. Not to be confused with reusing or recycling, “upcycling” is a modern practice as close to alchemy as one can get. It is a process where one type of material is saved from the waste stream and altered in one or several ways to become a new, better product. For Alchemy Goods, this means old bicycle tire inner tubes, advertisement banners and seatbelts are salvaged from the trash in order to craft handmade accessories.
Alchemy recycled bag
Alchemy Goods' Urban bag
As of the writing of this article, Alchemy Goods boasted that more than 182,000 inner tubes alone have been reclaimed in the name of the company’s industrious do-goodery. That equals a lot of freed landfill space. What started as an experiment to create one messenger bag from items found around an apartment developed into an apparel producer offering backpacks, handbags, wallets, Dopp kits, laptops sleeves and messenger bags. The approach of using unwanted inner tubes and seatbelts results in unique products with plenty of character — no two are alike. In fact, in an ingenious blending of sustainability and marketing, each product has an “Ag” logo with a number in the upper right hand corner. This number indicates, by weight, what percentage of that product was crafted from upcycled material. Browsing Alchemy’s website indicates that the percentage of upcycled material seems to range from the low 60s all the way up to 100%, depending on the product. Alchemy Goods further capitalized on the eco-consciousness of the Pacific Northwest by partnering with a number of companies, each seeing the overwhelming positives that the upcycling efforts achieve. REI, also headquartered in downtown Seattle, is not only a participating retailer of Alchemy products, but all REI bike shops also participate in the inner tube recycling program. The same goes for all Trek Bicycle Shops. And, functioning as a truly green company, all finished goods are constructed in the Seattle workshop where salvaged materials are also cleaned, cut and prepped. One benefit for the fall weather, particularly in the notoriously soggy Northwest, is that Alchemy Goods products are waterproof due to their construction from rubber and canvas materials. Alchemy Goods is a Seattle company, but don’t think its reach is limited to the Pacific Northwest. Fitting with its earth-conscious focus, Alchemy Goods products can be found at retailers nationwide and worldwide. Grab a green bag, belt or other Alchemy Goods product to make your fall the most sustainable one yet.