It’s a hot day in Florida; the steam seems to seep up from the tar roads as cars drive past. On the side, in a low ditch, is a plastic bag blowing aimlessly as the wind tosses it. No one gives the bag a second glance as they ride by; some may mumble about the wastefulness and some might not even look, or just brush it off as commonplace. However, women in Tanzania have a unique economic opportunity- to reuse and repurpose plastic bags. Imagine making a dress or a new pocketbook out of these plastic bags; how many times have you gone to the supermarket and not given the plastic bag a second thought? Maybe it was even tossed in the trash, as its perceived use was done. Would you think twice if you new the creations that could arise from such as simple bag?
With support from ECHO East Africa, students from MIT saw the plastic bags, not as trash, but as a chance to deliver some good news to the villages in Tanzania. The goals of the plan to repurpose plastic bags has three ambitious aims-
*Reduce the amount of waste plastic bags and increase environmental awareness by emphasizing the potential usefulness of "waste products"
*Provide an economic opportunity to women by creating new products out of the plastic bags
*Provides customers with quality, environmentally-conscious products such as reusable grocery bags
So how do we repurpose plastic bags? The answer is simpler than it may seem- make colorful yarns from them! This so-called “plastic yarn”, or “plarn”, is revolutionizing the role of women in the Tanzanian village economy by giving them another source of income and also creating great environmental strides towards sustainability.
Want to learn about DIY plarn? Check this out. Genevieve over at Sewphisticate is working on a basket constructed from crocheted plastic bag yarn,
She cut up strips of plastic bags and combined crochet and basket weaving techniques to make this awesome little basket! Even the row marker and filler cord are made from plastic bags.
She’s been documenting the process over on her blog. Check out all of Genevieve’s posts on the plarn basket over here!
This blog was adapted from Echo’s Global Agriculture Community: https://www.echocommunity.org/en/resources/f3046a5e-901e-47be-baa3-98ea0622c568