Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.  That is the chant my daughter gives when we talk about being green in our house.  We try to reduce our carbon footprint as much as possible.  We have a worm box for composting, a rubbermade garden on our back porch (that we use the compost for), designated recycling bins, and a “reusable container” cabinet.  We shop at second-hand stores as much as possible and sort of resent having to go to a major store for anything – from Whole Foods for groceries to Target for shoes.  We try to buy local when possible and eliminate as much waste as possible.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – the most efficient method for “being green” that is being taught to kids these days.  Recycling, while beneficial in some ways, still uses a lot of energy.  Not all cities are properly equipped with supporting mass recycling movements, and many don’t know how to efficiently and successfully impliment recycling programs.  Unfortunately, many people are stuck in their ways and don’t give a thought to recycling.  Many that do recycle are unaware of the parameters of recycling.  Pizza boxes and wax paper cups (as you would get in coffee shops) are not recyclable.  Anything with food residue cannot be recycled, and no, the recycling plants do not wash and sanitize your aluminum cans and plastic bottles.  Many people with good intentions contaminate a whole recycling bin by being unaware of their city’s rules.

But, even before you get to recycling, you need to concentrate on other ways to reduce your footprint.  Reducing the amount of waste products is key.  Many places offer reusable bags now – it’s become quite a fad.  We have probably a dozen in our house, from heavy duty grocery bags to ones you can roll up and stick in your pocket or on your keychain.  It’s so easy.  If you do need a bag when you are checking out, choose paper (if you have an option).  Paper bags are biodegradable.  Unfortunately, not all paper bags are compostable due to the chemicals in the dyes for the bags.

Before deciding that something is going into the recycling bin, ask yourself if it is reusable.  We go through yogurt like crazy in our house, and always save the yogurt containers for storing leftovers, tools, buttons, etc.  I use the lids from glass jars for stabilizing some of my felting projects.  If you can’t think of a use for them, ask a local non-profit children’s organization, or even your child’s school.  I save some things simply because I think kids can use them in art projects and then I pass them on.  Teachers and care-givers appreciate the donations.

So, in my previous post, I showed you the dress I made out of reused plastic bags.  We had a bunch of them piling up and I didn’t like it.  When I told people about that project, many did not understand what I was doing.  “Knitting with plastic bags?  What do you mean?  How can you do that?”  Even other knitters didn’t quite understand it.

You start with a bag (or dozens, in my case)

Lay it flat, tuck in the corners, pull the handles out of the way.  Then, cut off the handles and the fused seam at the bottom.

Starting at one end, start cutting parallel to the cut edge, going around and around the bag until you get to the top.

I cut the strips as close to 1 inch as possible.  Each bag yielded a few yards of plarn (plastic yarn), which I tied to the next bag and wound into a ball.  It took about 40 bags to made the tube dress I wore for Halloween.

I was talking to my roommate about the process.  She just sort of stared at my in disbelief as I worked on the dress, and couldn’t believe how great the finished product looked.  Trying to explain what plarn was and what you could do with it, I hopped on Ravelry to show her some of the things others have made.  I was a little impressed with some of the projects, and I want to show you.

A lot of the plarn projects out there are your basic bag/purse/market bag:

This is the Market Bag from Crochet Spot

Other common projects are coasters and pot scrubbers:

Plarn n Yarn Pot scrubber from Crochet With Cris

But in my curious search for other projects, I came across some really awesome ones.  Like this:

Plarn Betta by Genuine Mudpie

Or these awesome bracelets that use both yarn and can tops from Plastique Recreations:

There are so many more amazing things that people have done.  Check out Moira and all that she is doing.  Fantastic.

I hope this changes your perception about plastic bags.  What have you reused lately?


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Knittwittowo
    Nov 30, 2011 @ 19:21:37

    Hi ! I am running a plarn workshop on Saturday and I will refer people to your blog for inspiration ! I love the coaster idea and the fish is gorgeous!


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