From yesterday's campaign to today's fashion

May 28, 2010 (EVANSTON, Ill.)

Reduce. Re-use. Recycle. Those words describe a lifestyle if you "live green." That's why a local advertising executive couldn't bear to watch the by-products of his business go directly into landfills.

It's the stuff Chris Tag's business is made of. As an advertising art director, he creates the images for billboards like this one. But the 14-by-48 foot messages quickly become trash -- sometimes even before a campaign is complete.

"I was in my day job and I was doing a press check for an outdoor billboard campaign that I came up with and after I saw them take a gigantic piece that was not testing properly and throw it in the trash, I thought heavily that we should be doing something with that," said Tag.

That's when he came up with "Defy Bags" -- a line of bags and purses made from heavy, vinyl billboards and truck tarps. He prints custom artwork on the flaps of the messenger bags -- including one commissioned by the Dave Matthews Gand.

"We actually are doing a limited run bag line with them now with Dave Matthews' own hand-drawn last album cover," said Tag.

The company has also ventured into smaller accessories including yoga straps and dog collars.

"He's had a vision for this for over three years now and it just keeps getting bigger and bigger," said Julie Tag, Chris' wife and business partner.

Both Tag's wife and an ad agency co-worker pitch in to help with the three-year-old business -- which is headquartered out of his Evanston garage.

"I just think, using old products, why not? Why not use something that's old and make it new again rather than wasting something new and just having more things be made," said Dana Hortick, designer, Defy Bags.

For Tag, the hope is that his idea to defy conventional thinking about throwing materials away after one use will catch on in a fashionable way.

"We really shouldn't just keep wasting material. We always should be thinking about ways to recycle, reuse and reclaim something and give it a second chance," said Tag.

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