After we moved I had back surgery and was not doing the majority of the shopping anymore. This unfortunately meant that we began to re-accumulate a number of plastic bags. It is a little absurd how quickly these add up. Before long they are taking over whatever secret nook you shove them into and you need to manage the problem before it gets more out of hand.
I love using recycled bags and I have thankfully developed some better habits about using them instead of plastic. Plastic bags have a horribly dreadful impact on our environment and as we live by the Tennessee river I am confronted on a regular basis on what impact this can have to our wildlife and waterways.
In an effort to relieve some of the guilt I felt over the influx of plastic to our household I decided to try something I have run across on Pinterest numerous times. Good old Pinterest.
Have you seen the posts about “plarn” – that is “plastic yarn”? It is made from plastic bags. There are plenty of tutorials about making plarn online so I will not get into it here. There are three main methods of creating plarn and you can determine what is best for you. I used the single strand method because I did not want to take the time of joining all the pieces together when winding up a ball.
My daughter decided to make armor from the bags instead. She even made a belt for her sword…
It was not hard to make plarn but, I will not sugar coat it, it did take time. I found that (prior to the dismissal of my daughters school for Covid-19) waiting in the car line was a great time to wrap the strips I had cut into useful balls ready to be turned into something else. I also got a lot done in the afternoons after school when my kid had screen time or when we drove the 20-25 minutes to town. I found it personally a bit meditative to do this repetitive activity.
In the end I created 3 large balls, each with a slightly different color focus. I used basic crochet stitches to make various bags for myself and my little girl. You can find a lot of different patterns on Pinterest. One pattern I really liked was this smallish bowl-like basket – it might be a good starting place. Consider adding in other threads with your plarn to strengthen your walls, however, the plastic is pretty hardy by itself (even with a single strand).
I wanted my kid and I to each have a nice small bag for picking food from the garden. these little bags are quite adorable and the fabric created is pretty soft. They feel surprisingly strong. I loaded mine down with a lot of sweet potatoes and nothing felt like it was going to stretch out too much or break. Perhaps a bigger bag would require the double-stranded method to reinforce the structure?
After my first two bags I was hooked (get it… crochet? bwah ha ha!), I began to make gifts for several family members from the remaining material. One bag makes around 9 yards of plarn so a big handful of bags can create a lot of footage. My mother – cheeky woman that she is – suggested a bag to put her plastic bags in! A delightfully fun idea. Of course I made her one for this purpose as well.
I sadly forgot to photograph any of the gift bags I made before sticking them in the mail. I finished them just before the shelter-in-place order in Alabama and I was in a rush to get them out asap.
When I started to get low on bags I actually had the foresight to talk to the manager at Target who generously allowed me to take all the bags in the recycled bag bin for the creation of more plarn. I want to try to make some bigger bags out of this remaining supply. A beach bag would be particularly helpful – the plastic is waterproof and would allow sand to escape.
If you are currently stuck inside because of the pandemic or are just looking for some kind of project to do while watching Netflix please consider doing something like this. You will clean out a useful drawer in your kitchen and save a lot of plastic from going into a landfill in the process. And, if you feel this is much too much work, please take your bags to Target or Publix or some other location with a recycle program.
Every little bit helps!