Friday, October 9, 2009

Recycling Plastic Bags

I posted previously about creating "fabric" by fusing plastic bags, but another way to recycle plastic shopping bags is by making plastic "yarn" (plarn) and knitting, crocheting, or even weaving it.

My Recyled Bags has a great tutorial on how to cut the bags and connect the pieces.
Similar tutorial by Gooseflesh.
This is the method I prefer, though it makes a double-strand thickness.

If you prefer a thinner yarn, another method is to cut each bag into a spiral (like an orange peel).
Weavezine shows this method, and also gives a tutorial on weaving plarn.

Or perhaps the tutorial by Pie and Coffee will make more sense to you.

Recycled plastic totes are especially great beach bags--they can be rinsed off easily, and are long lasting.
They're also great for shopping bags (ironic, eh? Plastic shopping bags, reused and made into reusables).
They are also quite sturdy.

Wow, go figure--Creative Recyclers show how to weave a tube shape from plastic bags, using a plastic bottle as a prop.
This spool knitting technique (with real yarn) is also shown on Craftypod.

Atomic Shrimp used a handmade French bobbin and 25 plastic bags to knit this amazing tote

There are a lot of patterns out there, but here are just a few to get you inspired:

I loooove this crocheted tote from Marlo's Crochet Corner (instructions on her site).

I have just enough blue Walmart bags saved for the project.
For anyone who likes to use plastic bags for projects, there was a collective groan when Walmart switched from blue to ordinary white bags.

Crocheted tote tutorial on The Knitty Professors

When searching for free patterns, you can sometimes find crochet or knitting plastic tote/purse patterns under "bread bag".
Packages from bread and newspapers are thinner plastic, are often easier to work with, and give a finer look.
I especially like the clear bags--they give almost a crystalline accent to your projects.
My Recycled Bags has a ton of patterns available, including Bread Bag Tote

Also from My Recycled Bags, a Granny Square Motif Tote

There seem to be fewer knitting tutorials out there, but almost any knit or crochet pattern can be adapted to use with plarn.
Also check youtube for video tutorials.

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Anonymous ecofriendlybagslover said...

i have found some really cute eco friendly bags on this site called like today have a bag made out of old seatbelts!

October 23, 2009 at 11:06 AM  
Anonymous Alex said...

recycling is not enforced in my municipality. How do I sort plastic bags for recycling? Not all bags come with the recycle logo with number.

April 21, 2010 at 2:06 PM  
Blogger woof nanny said...

@Alex: most grocery stores have bins where you can return your bags for recycling. City recycling, even here where we DO have pick-up, does not recycle plastic bags. This post, however, is about reusing those bags by making the plastic into "yarn". You can use any type plastic for this, though most people try to find bags of similar gauge/weight/thickness.

April 21, 2010 at 4:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A really nice round-up of projects and ideas, thanks! As to your comments about not as many knitting projects, IMHO it's easier to crochet with Plarn than knit with it. It tends to stick to both needles. The judicious use of some types of cooking oil/hand lotion can help. That is not a perfect solution, however, and tends to get messy. Despite that, many still knit with Plarn but it takes a lot of manipulation and muscle to do so...not good for protecting your carpel tunnel or any arthritic fingers, neck issues, etc. I normally prefer the look of knitting for fluid ifabric and Plarn tends to be less fluid than yarn and harder to manipulate. So, IMHO, the crochet technique seems to produce a structurally and esthetically more pleasing FO. Of course, that is a personal opinion and others may feel quite differently.

February 6, 2012 at 8:37 AM  
Anonymous Kristina Jones said...

I love this idea! Usually, handmade recycled stuff looks really ugly and one can’t use it in public places, but this bag is really cute. It has that funny hipster look and I think I can even find a nice match for this bag in my wardrobe :)
Recycling is my new passion, primarily because it feels right, but also because with a little bit of fantasy and craftsman’s skills, you can make amazing stuff like this
I’ve been in the recycling community for not long enough to create something as awesome as that though, I’m just testing the water and trying to figure out how the things work
As you see, I’m learning the very basics now and I hope your blog will help me with that. Thanks!

July 18, 2013 at 5:59 AM  

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