How to Make Plarn

Why Do I Make Plarn?

There are so many reasons, I love to make plarn and it’s one of my favorite upcycling projects.  I have mentioned it quite a few times in various posts, so today I’m actually going to show to make plarn.

Making plarn is one of my favorite upcycling projects. I've mentioned it quite a few times in various posts, so today I'm going to show to make plarn.

Plarn is plastic yarn made from plastic bags. The beauty of this activity is that you can find the medium for these projects literally anywhere.  If you talk to a crocheter, their eyes will light up when you talk about their yarn stash. Crocheting with plastic bags is the same way, but instead of going to the store, you can walk outside and see these little treasures. I can’t tell you how many times, I’ve been having a bad day, took a walk and found a plastic bag just waiting to be turned into a beautiful bag for the homeless. It’s affordable, easy to find resource and it helps both humans and the environment.

We cut up 36 bags, to make 576 yards of plarn to make one bag for someone in need.

I also think crocheting with plarn is important for environmental reasons. Every year, Americans reportedly throw away 100 billion plastic grocery bags.  The average American family takes home almost 1,500 plastic shopping bags a year. These bags are considered the American flag because they are found everywhere, wreaking havoc on plant and animal life. The local landfill pays a hefty fee to keep them cleaned up around the landfill. Of the bags that make it to the recycling programs, only 1 percent are recycled. They often clog the machine because they are so light weight.

Also, we make plarn often as a family activity- our whole family gets together for a ‘plarn making factory’.  Crocheting plarn is a win-win-win. It’s a win for the environment, it’s a win for you because it’s free and it’s a win for who ever you create the project for.

Materials Needed:

Plastic Bags
Scissors

Step 1: Prep

You can find inspiration for this project everywhere. Go on a walk, get your family involved on your treasure hunt. Once you’ve collected a few dozen plastic bags then lay them out flat, fold them in half and cut the seam at the bottom and the handles off the top.

Step 2: Fold

Once you have an open rectangle, you’re going to fold it almost in half, leaving about an inch uncovered at the top. Fold the bottom flap again in half, then once more, still leaving that inch at the top.

Step 2: Fold Once you have an open rectangle, you're going to fold it almost in half, leaving about an inch uncovered at the top. Fold the bottom flap again in half, then once more, still leaving that inch at the top.

Step 3: Cut the Strips

Cut 1 inch strips up to the top of those bottom folds, leaving the 1 inch seam uncut.

Step 4: Cut the Spiral

Unfold the strips and you’ll find what looks like a rib cage with that 1 inch seam unfolding like a spine to hold the ribs together. Put your arm through with that spine going length wise across your arm. Start to cut the space between the first loop and the second loop at an angle, such that you’re cutting from the top edge of the first loop to the top edge of the second loop, as shown in the photo.

Step 4: Cut the Spiral Unfold the strips and you'll find what looks like a rib cage with that 1 inch seam unfolding like a spine to hold the ribs together. Put your arm through with that spine going length wise across your arm. Start to cut the space between the first loop and the second loop at an angle, such that you're cutting from the top edge of the first loop to the top edge of the second loop, as shown in the photo.

Step 4: Cut the Spiral Unfold the strips and you'll find what looks like a rib cage with that 1 inch seam unfolding like a spine to hold the ribs together. Put your arm through with that spine going length wise across your arm. Start to cut the space between the first loop and the second loop at an angle, such that you're cutting from the top edge of the first loop to the top edge of the second loop, as shown in the photo.

Step 5: Crochet and Enjoy!

Hopefully you see how easy it is to make plarn! It’s easy and fun, get your friends involved and share the joy. Here are some other posts where I talk about my love for plarn!

Why I Love to Help Others

How to Find Your Beautiful Treasures

For the Love of Handmade

Don’t forget to pin these instructions for later!

Making plarn is one of my favorite upcycling projects. I've mentioned it quite a few times in various posts, so today I'm going to show to make plarn.

 

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10 Easy Steps to a Green New Year

How to Have a Green New Year

There are so many resolutions for a green new year.  Some people choose not to mess with resolutions at all because they know how difficult it is to actually follow through. Making a resolution, especially one to be more green, really doesn’t have to be hard. The trick is to narrow down that resolution to a specific goal and make a plan. It’s also not about overwhelming yourself with resolutions, this can also make it difficult to complete the resolution. Hopefully, this post will give you some ideas for baby steps for a green new year and once you conquer those, come back for the tips to step it up!

here are so many options for sustainable resolutions. If it seems a bit overwhelming, start with these 10 Easy Steps to a Green New Year.

1. Reusable shopping bags

As Americans, we go through 100 billion plastic shopping bags every year, costing retailers about $4 billion dollars.

Although people think plastic bags are “free,” not only do stores hide their cost in higher prices at the register, but plastic bags actually cost taxpayers .17 cents per bag in pollution clean-up costs too. In the state of California alone, public agencies spend more than $25 million annually to manage plastic bag pollution.

As far as sustainable efforts go, I’m sure this ranks high on everyone’s list for a green new year, but there is always one small problem. We can’t ever remember to bring them… This used to be a huge problem for me, but then I started shopping at Aldi’s. For those who haven’t experienced this joy, one of the many joys of Aldi’s is they charge extra for shopping bags. Generally, stores have the price of bags built into the cost of its products, but at Aldi’s they encourage you to bring your own bag or they’ll charge you extra to buy theirs. This practice helped me into the habit of bringing my own.

Tips

But for those, who don’t have an Aldi’s to remind them, having a routine that makes it easy to remember your bags is extremely important. I would recommend always having your bags put back in the car. If you have two cars that might end up with you at the store, then stock them both with your own bags. If it’s too much of a struggle to get the bags back to the car, maybe have a spot by the door to store them, so you can grab them as you go out.

Another solution is to get bags that fit easily in your purse, pocket or on your keychain, so you can have them at all times.

Step It UP

Even without plastic bags, we still bring in tons of plastic items into our homes. To take this step to the next level, you can opt for plastic-shopping. Bring your own produce bags or bulk items sacks.

2. Take your own cup

It is estimated that 500 billion disposable cups are discarded to landfill every year. That’s one million cups a minute, every hour of every day of every year. One-hundred forty-six billion of those are dedicated to our morning coffee.

One way we can easily change this is to simply bring your own cup to get your coffee or drink your water.

Although, I’m not a coffee drinker, I’ve been drinking from a water bottle for about a year now and I love it. I’m never thirsty or searching for the nearest water fountain because I always have a water bottle at my side.

Step It UP

Once you’ve started bringing your own cup for a while, it’s time to spread the joy so others can have a green new year. Having a New Year’s party or some other gathering throughout the year? Don’t use single-serve cups. Be an example for your friends and family with reusable cups and glasses. Sure it might require an extra step, but the benefits for our Earth and future are limitless.

3. Eating at the restaurant

Take out is full of single-use items that have no other purpose than to be thrown away. Generally, restaurants buy food in bulk, so while eating out might not be better for your health or pocket book, eating in actual restaurants is better for the Earth when it comes to packaging. You’ll get extra bonus points for eating at restaurants that serve locally-grown produce.

Step It UP

To take this step to the next level for a green new year, cooking at home is much better for your health and pocketbook. It’s tough to go from a lifestyle of eating out all the time to cooking at home, but it definitely gives you more control over where your food comes from, it’s quality, how it’s packaged and so many other factors.

4. Recycle cardboard

Cardboard is probably one of the easiest things there is to recycle, it also is more valuable for recycling companies, however many people still don’t see the value in recycling it. Recycling centers generally don’t take greasy or dirty cardboard, so it takes little effort just to put clean cardboard into the recycling bin rather than the trash.

Step It UP

Other recyclables take a bit more effort to recycle, but in the end are totally worth it. Once you’ve seen how easy it is to recycle cardboard, take a look at your current habits and see what else could easily be recycled. It will depend on your location and the services offered, but it is a great opportunity to help your local recycling company and help the Earth at the same time with minimal effort.

5. Don’t Litter

This one really should be a no-brainer, but there is no end to the amount of damage litter does to our eco-system. There is no reason to litter, just wait until you reach the gas station or your next rest stop before throwing that cup or cigarette out the window.

Step It UP

A lot of the pollutants out there might not be caused by careless folks, but rather trash that got caught in the wind. No matter how it got there, it can wreak havoc on animals and waterways. If you see a piece of trash, pick it up. It might seem small, but those pieces will add up. Your good example might inspire others to do it too.

6. Walk to places close by

Not just a suggestion for a green new year, but walking is good for your health and  cuts down wear and tear on your car. It’s up to you and your schedule, but a good goal would be to walk anywhere that takes 15 minutes or less to get to. If you have multiple stops within close proximity, you can park the car on one side and walk to the farthest location and work back toward your car.

Step It UP

Again, this is kind of up to an individual’s schedule. But try to add some extra steps to your routine and replace driving time. Plan your route to reduce driving or maybe make a commitment to walking any place within a mile.

7. Donate instead of throw away

Christmas just passed and if you’re anything like me, you have to get rid of some stuff to make room. It’s easy to just toss everything, but donating used items can be better for the Earth and your local thrift stores that probably use that money for charities.

Step It UP

This takes a bit more effort, but a minimalist life style can really be of great benefit for your every area of your life. It’s a lot less stress, requires less cleaning and effort in the long run, and is much better for the planet because you’re not buying as many new things.

8. Buy nothing one day a week

There are so many benefits to not buying things. Take one day a week to assess you budget and purchases for the week. Are these things you really need or that you have money for? Yes, there was probably a good sale, but when you stop and think that you could actually save 100 percent by not buying anything at all, it really is a no-brainer.

For me, buying nothing for a day, week or month is also about showing solidarity to the workers who make it. Especially in the electronics department, there is so many human right’s violations that went into making that. I try to live a simple life so that others might simply live. Buying less and letting go of the mentality of keeping up with the Jones’ is so freeing. I can focus on saving up for a house or investing my money, instead of living paycheck to paycheck for things I don’t really want or need.

Step It UP

Expand your buy nothing day to a week or even a month. This challenge really helps get your focus on planning ahead and only buying what you need, instead of whatever catches your attention. If you expand this practice to a greater length of time, maybe think of a buy nothing new year. Instead of getting new products made, you can purchase used products from thrift stores, Craigslist or maybe even check into a Buy Nothing New Facebook group or site. Finding a new sale is always exciting, but so it the liberation of buying things you don’t need. The hunt can go the opposite way. You can hunt at thrift stores or around your local stores and find the cheapest option.

9. Meatless one day a week

The benefits of eating less meatless are endless. A lot more of the planet’s resources are spent on meat as opposed to veggies. Going meatless once a  week is a great start to a more well-rounded diet. As a rule, eating more vegetables is better for your budget, too.

Step It UP

If you decide doing one meatless day a week is doable, try to expand to do more than one day or as many days as you feel comfortable.

10. Water plants with leftover water

This may seem small, but it can make a big difference over time. Cooking water can be used in a variety of ways.

Leftover non-salted water is a great thing to use to water your plants. Let the water cool down before you disperse it on any plants. If you don’t have any plants that need watered, keep the water for making soup.

Salted or Boiling water can be used as a weed killer.

Ice cubes that fall on the ground are great for small house plants.

Step It UP

Install a water collection system. This can be a huge benefit for your water usage. Once the collection system is in place, you can free, non-chlorinated water. There are many uses for this rain water including using it for garden or agriculture, using it in place of water used for washing pets, cars, driveways and side walks, refill your pond or swimming pool, some people even use to wash their clothes and flush. For more information, check out this great link for Rainwater Harvesting 101.

I hope this list inspired you to live a green new year. Leave a comment below on your tips and tricks for a green new year!

Don’t forget to pin these for later!

here are so many options for sustainable resolutions. If it seems a bit overwhelming, start with these 10 Easy Steps to a Green New Year.

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How to Have a Waste-Free Holiday

Waste-Free Tips

Is it possible to have a waste-free holiday? It’s easy to get caught up in the spirit of the holidays and forget to be careful about the things we waste.  Check out these tips to help cut down waste in the areas of packaging, food, gifts and decorations, and start enjoying your waste-free holiday.

Check out these tips to help cut down waste in the areas of packaging, food, gifts and decorations, and start enjoying your waste-free holiday.

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Why I Don’t Participate in Black Friday Shopping

Oh Where to Begin…

There are so many reasons why I don’t participate in Black Friday shopping, especially when it started on Thanksgiving.

Shopping on Black Friday isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s our attitude that worries me. I wasn’t always the anti- capitalism, corporations, money, greed or commercialism type. To some extent it was always true, but it was more because I was compassionate and wanted to help others. Commercialism has its place, but I could see when I was focused on getting more stuff, I didn’t focus as much on giving.

I can break down my reasons to not participate in Black Friday Shopping to three basic points.

There are many reasons not to participate in Black Friday shopping. Let’s make Black Friday the new Green Friday by working together to consume less junk.

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How to Pack a College To-Go Bag

What is a To-Go Bag

To-Go bags in college are essential to any time and money saving lifestyle. Today, I’ll talk a little about what a to-go bag is and why it’s important. Obviously, some of the things I present are extreme, but I’m an extreme person. Don’t feel the need to do all these things, every day, but do consider some small changes to help reduce the wasted opportunities of every day life.

To-Go bags in college are essential to any time and money saving lifestyle. Today, I'll talk a little about what a to-go bag is and why it's important.

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Finally…Updates for Replenishing Stillwater

Finally...Updates for Replenishing Stillwater, and some other things too...

It’s been a pretty crazy couple of weeks around here. The group I’ve been mentioning Replenishing Oklahoma raised about $700 in donations for the animal shelters in Oklahoma and that’s only working in two cities. We’re not done yet! We will set up at the Stillwater Wal-Mart on Perkins from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on April 30th and we’ve gotten donation boxes set up all over campus. Continue reading

Shedding Light on Upcycling Solutions in Stillwater

Shedding Light on Upcycling Solutions in Stillwater

I have been searching for a upcycler for quite some time. I really wanted to find someone who did more than slap a new coat of paint on something and call it good. Yes, that does serve a need, is super creative, but this purpose I needed someone who really took time to take the unusable or unwanted and make it functional. Someone who not only showed interest in this project, but also followed through with an interview! I mean this guy is pretty much a miracle!

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How to Add a Little Green To Your Holidays In Stillwater

How to Add a Little Green to Your Holidays in Stillwater

The holidays can be difficult- ham or turkey? Skip the extra butter to save calories, but ooooh, it makes everything taste so much better. Buy a new real or fake tree or just use the same one as last year, though the lights might or might not be working? Whether to gift that extra expensive foot massager or settle for the gift certificate for the cheaper place in the mall?

All these decisions add up and it shows in our landfills. In the US, household waste increases by 25 percent.

The holidays can be overwhelming with all the decision and choices, but here is a guide to help make three things simpler. Reducing, reusing and recycling.

Reduce:

No matter where you live, these options can be used.

  • Rather than offer your guests disposable cutlery and plates, serve food on real, reusable dishware.
  • Nearly 60 percent of Americans receive unwanted gifts during the holidays. Instead of giving the gift of stuff, give the gift of experience, such as football tickets, movie tickets, gift cards to their favorite restaurant or a gift certificate to their favorite local place to shop. You can also give treats or homemade gifts.
Upcycled Lightbulb Penguins

Need an idea for a homemade gift? These penguin and snowmen are made from used light bulbs. You can decorate them with extra scrap yarn or fabric.

  • In the U.S., 4 million tons of trash is made through gift wrap and shopping bags. Plastic bags are not accepted through the Stillwater recycling program. While they are taken at some grocery stores, they are not easily recycled because they so easily clog the machines. They cause many problems the landfills and the environment, so use a reusable bag instead.

 Reuse:

Again, these tips can be used almost anywhere, whether your town has recycling option for not.

  • Ask people to carefully unwrap their gifts and you can reuse the paper to make these bows.
Gift wrap bows

Upcycled Bows Made from Used Wrapping Paper

  • Chances are, if you’re feeling the pressure during the holiday, so are your friends and family. Bring up the idea of being gifts from the many retail shops downtown. Maybe even make it a contest to see who find the best gift under $10.

As we get new stuff, there might be a temptation to throw our old stuff away, but there are plenty of thrift stores to take your used clothes, even some electronics and other used items that still have value.

According to the USDA, Americans throw away 25 percent, 52 billion pounds, of the food they purchase.  During the holidays, it is estimated, we throw away three times during this time as much as we do the rest of the year. Although this is a huge problem, there are also several solutions.

  • You can also make stock or broth from your turkey bones to reduce waste and use your leftover meat to make other meals too.

Fortunately, there are several apps to help with our food waste problems:

  • Fridge Pal-This app makes shopping lists, tracks expiration dates, and searchs for recipes for your week’s ingredients to make better use of them. It’s made for meal planning so you can utilize the best food at the right time.
  • Home Compost-Interested in composting, but not sure how to get started? With this app, find out how to use your food scraps to make soil for your garden. It’s available on the Android store, and is the most in depth explanation we’ve seen on an app so far.
  • Love Food Hate Waste-This app will help you cut your food waste by providing recipes based on the leftover food in your kitchen. Keep a track of your shopping within the app and use it to help you reduce the amount of good food you throw away by cooking inventive meals.

In the U.S., 4 million tons of trash is made through gift wrap and shopping bags. There are plenty of creative gift wrapping alternatives, such as

  • Scarves, handkerchiefs and bandannas
  • Old posters and maps
  • Newspapers (the comic sections works great)
  • A present in a present.  Place gifts inside reusable containers like cookie tins, flower pots, reusable bags and baskets or wrap gift in cloth napkins or kitchen towels.
How to Add a Little Green to Your Holidays in Stillwater Reusable OSU T-shirt Bags

A reusable bag made from an OSU t-shirt

  • Give a “treasure map” to find an unwrapped gift hidden elsewhere in the house
  • Wrap gifts in your children’s or your own artwork
  • Look through old magazines, catalogs and calendars to use attractive photos
  • Use re-useable or re-used gift bags
  • Replace ribbons and bows with natural evergreens, berries, dried flowers. Keep them as decorations or compost them after the gifts are unwrapped.
  • Wrapping paper made from recycled paper

Of course even after all the care you’ve taken to reduce the trash you take into your home, there will always be something to throw away. Fortunately, Stillwater goes out of its way to take care of its citizens.

Trees: Each year, 50 million trees are bought in the US and of that, 30 million of them find themselves in the landfill.

The City of Stillwater offers two options for families who enjoy live Christmas trees. Regardless of which method you choose, trees must be stripped of all decorations — tinsel, lights and ornaments.

  • The first option is to drop the tree off at the Convenience Collection Center. There is no charge to drop off Christmas trees.
  • The second option is to prepare the tree for City of Stillwater yard waste collection. Bundles must be shorter than four feet long and less than 18 inches across. Bundles must weigh less than 35 pounds.
  • Cardboard: Cardboard is one of the easiest things to recycle and it can also one of the most economical things to recycle, but it is also one of the biggest contributors to landfills. Recycle your cardboard!
  • Paper: For all the leftover recycling paper or paper gift wrapping alternatives, Stillwater offers paper recycling.
  • Plastic: Although, Stillwater does not offer plastic shopping bag recycling, other plastics #1-#7 can easily be recycled through the single stream curbside recycling or through the Convenience Collection Center.
  • Electronics: Don’t underestimate the value of your electronics. Best Buy, the City of Stillwater, Habitat Restore, American Scrap, Staples Office Supply. will take your electronics off your hands.

Later computer models that still work can be donated to the Stillwater Board of Education.

If you have any ideas to add to the list, leave a comment!

For a comprehensive list of what can be recycled in Stillwater, check out this Sustainable Stillwater website.

OSU Upcycled Penguin Ornaments