Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Plastic or Plastic?

If yesterday's project was a little too daunting for you, you'll love this one. Let's talk about plastic grocery bags.

I'm all about recycling and repurposing...to a point. That point is as long as it isn't too terribly inconvenient for me. For instance if we didn't have curbside recycling, I doubt I could make myself haul my own newspapers to the recycling center on a regular basis. I would feel guilty about tossing them in the trash, but not guilty enough to schlep all the way to the recycling place which is always located in a crappy part of town. I know. I'm selfish and lazy.

I will also admit that I use the plastic grocery bags from the store instead of bringing my own reusable bags with me. I really would love to do that but seriously, it's all I can do to remember to bring my debit card with me. I would constantly be forgetting the bags or using them for something else or they would be in the wash when I needed them, etc. I am clearly not mature enough for non-disposable grocery bags.

BUT...I do recycle and repurpose the plastic ones that, along with water bottles, are bringing about the end of civilization as we know it. I seen that on TV.

I saw this idea on a website that I now can't find but I've seen many different versions of it. Basically you just take an empty container that held cleaning wipes or baby wipes or any kind of pop-up wipes. You cover it with decorative paper then roll up some plastic trash bags and  put them inside. Now you have a handy pop-up dispenser for plastic grocery bags! You can keep one in your car, one under the sink in each bathroom, one in the garage, etc.

Pull out one bag and the next one pops up!
I use these bags in the bathroom trash cans so I keep a container under each bathroom sink.
Fold each side of your grocery bag to the middle.
Place the handles of the next bag under the folds at the end of the previous bag.
Roll 'em up! Keep adding bags and rolling until you have enough to fill your container.
My rolls each have 30-40 bags, enough to last at least 6 months for the bathroom trash cans.

I'm in the process of rolling up the rest of my bags so they'll be easier to store. Right now they get shoved into a bag on the floor of my pantry:

Not pretty but not really a high priority on my list of things to fix.

Need some other plastic bag storage ideas? Here are a few I found in my Google wanderings:

Bunny Ears! [via]

For those who sew. [via]

For those who don't. [via]

This gal folds hers into those little triangle footballs we played with in grade school. Middle school. High school. At the office yesterday. [via]

Another pop-up idea but maybe not quite as classy as ours. [via]

Once you get storage under control then what do you do with all those dang bags? Using them as trash bags is great but unless you generate an enormous amount of daily trash you probably still have tons of leftover bags. Here are some crafty ways you can turn plain plastic grocery bags into works of art. Well...sort of.

If you know your way around a crochet hook or a couple of knitting needles you can use your plastic bags to create your very own plarn! Plastic + Yarn. Get it? [via]

You can use your plarn to crochet a lovely decorative bowl...which I assume is not dishwasher safe. [via]

I feel sure that plarn formalwear will be all the rage this fall on the runways of Paris, Milan and...Detroit. This little number comes with a matching shawl, of course. [via]


I bet this handbag is what Olympia Dukakis had in mind when she said this in Steel Magnolias
"The only thing that separates us from the apes is our ability to accessorize."

And can't you just picture Shirley MacLaine planting tomatoes in her garden wearing this stylish hat? "Because that's what old southern women are supposed to do." 
Okay, I promise no more Steel Magnolia quotes.  [via]

We all know how image conscious some Mac users can be. 
This plarn laptop cozy would make you the envy of all the other engineers at MIT.

This cuff bracelet is actually kind of nice but I have no idea where they got bags in those colors. Mine are all brown, white, dark blue or yellow which severely limits their wearability.

I encourage you to take some time to browse this gal's website. She has truly turned trash into art. 
Her plastic sea creatures are stunning.

Those were certainly some inspiring ideas for creating a more beautiful world with plarn, but what if you don't knit or crochet? Never fear, there's hope for you yet. You can heat fuse plastic grocery sacks into a medium that can be manipulated similar to fabric. I know, it rocked my world too.

This website will give you a tutorial on how to fuse plastic bags so that you can impress your friends by making a one of a kind (OOAK for those of us in the know) tote like this.

Not to be outdone by plarn weavers, this artist makes dresses and accessories from fused bags. I am a little concerned that if I wear this dress in the summer, when I get into my car which has an interior temperature of 116 degrees my fused plastic dress might fuse to my flesh. At the very least it would create some embarrassing sweat puddles in the lap area.  [via]

Now this is a clever and even stylish use of fused bags. 
That hideous brown color even lends itself well to the coffee theme. Well done, 2 thumbs up.

Here is some more fused plastic made into some lovely floral jewelry pieces. 
Hey, that girl in the formalwear a few pictures up needs to wear this with her dress.

Don't forget home decor while you're fusing your plastic bags! You can use them to make rosettes like the ones on this wreath. This versatile piece would compliment any decor from...uh...flea market chic to...uummmm...uuhhhhh...orange.

No need to worry if you feel like your crafting skills might not be at the same level as some of these artists. There are ways to make lovely items from plastic grocery bags with very little advanced preparation.

Just a little cutting and gluing is all that's required to make plastic bag beads that can be used in a variety of projects such as this really nice watch band.
Move over t-shirt pom poms, plastic bags are taking over! 
Well maybe not but it's something the kids can do.
The holidays will be here before we know it so don't get left out in the cold! 
(Did you see how I did that? Cold. And the snowman. Yeah, I'm just good that way.) 
With some very simple stuffing, tying and a little Sharpie action you can dress up your holiday decor with a snowman like this! 
Okay, is it just me or does it look like he's being strangled by his scarf?
So there you have it. More than you ever wanted to know about upcycling and storing plastic grocery bags. I've poked a little fun at some of the artisans but I seriously do appreciate the talent and ingenuity that went into their creations, not to mention their efforts to keep a few plastic bags out the landfills.

The creative geniuses who make the displays for Anthropologie need to get on board with the plastic bags. In the past they've used things like cork, paper, yarn, books, milk jugs, tea bags, cupcake liners, bottles of honey, straws, marshmallows, paper cups and tons of other overlooked every day objects to create huge and stunning window displays. Cruise over to Anthropologie's Facebook page and check out their photo albums for pictures. Then send them an email and insist that they hire me immediately because as a Professional Creative Idea Thinker Upper I'm sure I could bring a lot to the table.


SkylersDad said...

Holy cow you are the most busy and artsy person I know!

Shannon Green said...

Just for that I'm going to crochet you a lovely Christmas vest out of plarn! No really, I insist.