Re-using waste material is going way beyond the preciously Portlandia-esque artisans selling soda can speakers or old plumbing chandeliers. Western companies with a conscience are jumping on board, on an industrial scale. The new Harvest III line of bags from Keen, the Portland-based shoe company, are manufactured in Chico, California, using pre-consumer car airbag material foraged from airbag factories. The tote ($70; also available: backpack, shoulder bag and wallet) is nicely designed with adjustable straps and inner pockets, and as durable as you'd expect given the material. It even has an interesting airbag pattern (each bag is slightly unique).
Here's the path from waste to tote (or wallet):
1. Leftover side airbag material comes to the Chico factory from a recycler in Salt Lake City
2. Pieces to make a specific style are gathered together and hand-sewn.
3. Each product is hand-signed by one of the craftspeople who made it.