Posted on Leave a comment

Reusing that plastic: plarn

Someone (several someones, actually) recently drew my attention to a video on FB, showing how to fuse several layers of plastic shopping bags together with an iron. The video then went on to demonstrate how that fused material could be used to make several different types of bags, including a durable shopping bag.

The comments on the post were chiefly of the “so I just spent x minutes of my life learning how to use x hours of my life turning a bag into a bag” ilk. I’m never sure whether to cry or roll my eyes when I read reactions like that. I want to shout “You’re missing the point!!!!!

I would like to point out that the primary goal of this series of posts is to reduce the amount of plastic we throw away (and let me just take this opportunity to say – yet again – that there is no such place as ‘away’).  Re-using that plastic to make something useful and durable, is the means by which we work towards that goal. There’s no single idea that’s going to suit everyone. I’m just presenting a few that might prove helpful. Obviously, there is no point making something so useless, impractical or ugly that it will wind up in the trash anyway.

Today I’m going to talk about turning those dreadful shopping bags into ‘plarn’ – a sort of plastic ‘yarn’ that can be used for knitting or crochet. And I don’t mean the thick, reusable ‘bag for life’ things. I mean the ones that we comparatively recently began to pay 5p for in the UK. Drive down any of the highways, byways and country lanes in the UK (and we’re not alone in this) for evidence of the problem these bags present. They’re snagged in the hedgerows, they’re floating in puddles, they’re flying on gusts of wind, they’re dotted about countryside.

So… to the en-yarn-ifying. There are so many existing videos and instructions on this front, that I’m going to draw on those, rather than reinventing the wheel. This video clip will do as well as any other, because it has the added bonus of linking to a pattern to crochet a carrier. Here’s a flat text-and-sketch post describing the same process.

Other methods include cutting bags into continuous spirals instead, but the above method makes for a more robust end product.

And I totally get that going to all that trouble to make a bag when you already had a bag to begin with, does seem a little like overkill. So here’s an astonishing thought: don’t make a bag. Make something else. You will not believe how many ideas and suggestions are already out there!

  • Make a bedroll for a homeless person to put their sleeping bag on (or for yourself to take camping)

    Plarn bedrolls
  • Or a mat on which to store muddy boots.
  • Or a cover for the back seat of the car for when Fido has taken an impromptu swim at Salcey Forest (and by ‘Fido’, I might mean Jessie, my very own, beloved half-Akita who leaps into any body of water without provocation).
  • Make some placemats
  • Or an outdoor plant hanger thingy
  • Make an organiser to hang behind the front seat of the car, where you can keep the essentials
  • In fact, here’s an entire directory of patterns using ‘plarn’ (plastic yarn), and…
  • Here’s a website dedicated to its use

Until next time.