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 Make Handmade Gift Bows

The Joy of Upcycling

My first upcycled DIY project was handmade gift bows.  About seven years ago, I fell in love with the world of upcycling and still have not managed to find my way out of the dumpster. Oddly, enough it’s where I’ve found God’s love and my new beginning. It’s a gold mine of potential. Although, I get plenty of weird looks from people who just don’t get it, I find no reason to come back to the real world. These handmade gift bows were the first things I learned how to upcycle. Every year as I sit down to make them for the year, I am flooded with the joy upcycling brings me. I think about my hopelessness before God showed His love through upcycling. This year, I have plenty of reasons to feel hopeless. My life has turned out completely different than what I imagined, but as I sit and make these bows, I am reminded of how God sees me despite my imperfections.

I’m not sure what brought you to this post, but I hope these bows bring you even a fraction of the joy they brought me.

Handmade gift bows were my first upcycling project. Every Christmas, I am flooded with the joy upcycling brings me and I want to share that joy with you.

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7 Ways to Repurpose Leaves and Celebrate Fall

Fall is the air. As the temperatures cool down, the leaves start turn pretty colors, and people get their rakes out. Raking leaves is necessary because leaves can clog drains, get stuck in the gutters and coat everything. But what happens to those leaves we bag up? Despite the fact that they still have use, most are layered on top of the landfill to buried under layers of more trash. What a waste when there are so many ways to repurpose leaves.

There are so many good uses for the fall leaves. Instead of packing them away in the landfill, we can repurpose leaves and celebrate fall!

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How to Find Your Beautiful Treasures

What is Perfect?

Who determines where we find beautiful treasures? Who decides what is useful or perfect? A blogger buddy of mine, Kristin at The Peculiar Treasure, recently wrote a blog post challenging us to look beyond our imperfections in appearance. While we all struggle with insecurities on how we look, she encouraged us to post a selfie or a photo to show our worth has nothing to do with our appearance. I accepted this challenge to find the beautiful treasures, but with my own spin.

It's easy to focus on our imperfections, but instead we should find beauty in the small things. Check out this post on how to find your beautiful treasures.

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Don’t Break the Bank With These 5 School Break Boredom Busters

School Break Boredom Busters

Boredom Busters like the ones listed below are an affordable way to keep your kids busy. My mom, a daycare provider, has a great saying “If you don’t keep the kids busy, they’ll keep you busy.” It’s a mantra she says especially around the summer months when kids are out of school, as she plans activities to make sure her kids keep their hands and minds busy.

With school break just around the corner, things aren’t going as planned, not enough money or time off to go on vacation, what’s a girl to do?

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How Upcycling Gave Me a New Beginning

How Upcycling Gave Me a New BeginningNew beginnings are hard. Although nothing has really changed between December 31 and January 1, this new year has already had it’s ups and downs. One minute is great and just as I start skipping along whistling my favorite tune  someone runs into me with scalding hot coffee, metaphorically. My job has been a little rocky with the need to constantly be learning something new, my documentary has definitely run into some problems and I’m generally just tired of always worrying that something else is going to go terribly wrong.

But you know what gets me through it? The idea that something ordinary, discarded, unwanted, even ugly can change into something beautiful or useful or both. We see it all the time in nature with butterflies, the different seasons where trees are losing their leaves, go to sleep and then wake up refreshed and flourishing, or a seed germinating to make a beautiful flower or something yummy to eat.

I think that’s why I find upcycling to be such a fascinating thing for me. I guess because if an ol’ pop bottle can have a new beginning as something as beautiful as this hummingbird feeder then maybe someday I, someone ordinary, unfinished, inadequate, will find my purpose that brings fulfillment in my life and makes me feel useful.

(At the beginning of this post, I was feeling quite down, pessimistic, confused and frustrated, but I still felt hopeful as I wrote the rest of this post. Because like I said, if someone can take care of a discarded pop bottle, then surely I will find a purpose too. It has been on my mind until this past Sunday when I randomly went to a new church service and they played this song. It validated the hope I still felt as finished this post.)

Take this orange fruit netting. Do you see a use outside it’s original purpose of holding these oranges? Although it’s not as bad as plastic bags that blow away so freely, this orange fruit bag net does still cause problems for wildlife. They might try to eat it or get tangled up in it. Fruit net bags can cause problems for the environment and animals, but they can be repurposed. Click to find out more!

Oranges are super easy for me to grab on the way to work, so I tend to buy a lot, but I have never been comfortable with throwing these nets away. Another problem, we don’t have a dish washer and sometimes even with the scratchier sponge, which we don’t always have anyway because we go through them so fast. We just can’t get our pans clean.

I spent 10 minutes trying to get this plan clean. Find out how I did it!

I spent like 10 minutes trying to get that clean and it wasn’t even budging. Then I saw an empty net just sitting there and I grabbed it out of desperation. It worked like a charm. It still took a few minutes, but I haven’t seen it that clean in months.

Ever have burnt food impossible to get off your pans? Find out my secret to getting clean dishes every time without a dishwasher.

Before, that little net had a very temporary use, but now it has a new beginning that will extend its use many times over.

scrubbie-01

 

What about these boxes?

Do you see potential for these boxes outside the landfill, never to be used again? Click for inspiration.

Obviously someone didn’t see enough use in them to throw them in the recycling bin, not even 20 feet from that dumpster. Other than metal, cardboard is one of the best recycling markets. Recycling would give it a new life and that could help a local business owner striving to make the city cleaner, but nope, that particular person didn’t even see enough potential to take the time to throw it in the bin. What do you think? Do you see a new beginning for it?

Did you know this is made with a diaper box? How Cute!

I found this upcycled project using diaper boxes, but these projects could have easily been used. I thought it was the cutest thing and if you’re interested in making it, check out this post.

What about light bulbs. Light bulbs are a pretty practical thing and they last for quite some time, but a new beginning could extend their life more. How can you say no to these cuties???

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.

I think my favorite thing to give new beginnings to are plastic bags. America use 150 billion plastic bags, which equals 150 million gallons of gas just blowing around our planet or wasting away in the landfills.

They really are the most impractical things ever invented. They cause problems for everyone. For the grocer that charges you extra to compensate for their cost, you, as they fill every nook and cranny in your house until you remember to throw them out or take them back to the store to be recycled, the recycler because they clog machines and are extremely expensive to recycle, and the environment as they choke animals and get stuck on every tree. The only exception is the industry that makes a killing off destroying the environment. Occasionally, I will bring some home because I need something to put the used cat litter in, but other than that I try not to use them.

Normally, when I see plastic bags I see a nuisance and beyond that a careless action that led to them being blown in the wind or stuck in a tree. But now instead of being annoyed, I pick them up, dust them off and take them home because even if someone else doesn’t care, I do. I see a new beginning for them.

Although many people tried to teach me to crochet over the years, it wasn’t until my grandmother gave me this beautiful bag made from crocheted plastic bags that I finally got the motivation to keep trying until I got it.

plarn crocheted bag

It is extremely sturdy and I have since learned to adapt the use of plarn for other projects and sometimes add colored yarn to add a little extra texture and color to them.

Here are some of my favorites:

You can watch this video to learn how to make plarn

Change is hard, but as I look back on my life, I can see when things ended it’s because something great was about to start. And when I get down, I just binge on pinning upcycling projects and it just makes me feel so much better! I hope you found encouragement in this post. I wrote as part of a collaborative post, so if you interested, click on the pictures below to see what my group members wrote about.

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happylsh

A Day to Give Thanks

Why Am I Thankful

There are so many ways to give thanks and I hope to express that in this post. This post will serve multiple purposes. One, I want to say what I am thankful for. I used to be such a negative Nancy but I think I am finally coming out of that darkness and I want to share that. Two, although it is too late to convince you not to go shopping on Black Friday, I am going to attempt to explain why it is just a bad idea.

Like I said, I’ve always been kind of a negative person, especially when it comes to the human race. Humans are selfish, careless and sometimes we are just down right mean. When I learned about the perils of the environment, it just gave me another reason to be discouraged. During my journey learning about environmental issues, such as Styrofoam actively poisons people, yet it is still openly available in any store or how the litter that we carelessly toss away, whether to the side of the road or in the dumpster then it some how makes its way to the oceans or to the intestines of an innocent animals, I have learned things that make me positive.

My Hope

Upcycling is my motivation, inspiration and hope for this planet and for my life. Yes, we are the most wasteful species on this planet by far, but we can also be the most creative. It doesn’t have to be trash or waste, it can become something else entirely. Instead going out to buy a hummingbird feeder, we can make one almost entirely out of ‘trash’, consisting of a Pepsi bottle and spoons.

Earth_Day_Plastic_Bottle_Plastic_Spoons_Hummingbird_Feeder_Upcycle_Pic_2

Or these totally adorable penguin Christmas ornaments made from lightbulbs.

penguin_ornaments-550x529

Or these super easy gift wrap bows made from used wrapping paper.

Gift wrap bows

I could literally go on and on all day and night, which I already did stay up way too late looking at this stuff, but I can’t help because it gives me hope.

This video gives me hope.

These kids have nothing besides the trash we carelessly sent over because we had so much STUFF, stuff we consider ourselves too good for and they made something so beautiful and magical out of it.

I am so thankful for the journey I have been given because I can’t imagine any other way.  I hope some day it will become more than just a hobby and become my full blown living, so I live and breathe it, but if not, I have been incredibly blessed to be apart of this movement in some small way.

Also, I am also thankful for friends and family, who have supported me along this journey and put up with my negativity for so long. Their love along with God’s little whispers of encouragement, I haven’t gotten me further than anything I could have done on my own.

As far as Black Friday, I find that day to be deplorable and this picture pretty much says it all for me.

Black Friday Define Necessity

Black Friday

There is nothing worse to be doing after a day of giving thanks than to go and beat people down to get to whatever sale first. People, even sales associates, have died because of this event. Tragically, when a 61-year-old man collapsed in 2011, fellow Target shoppers stepped over his body and continued searching for deals. The man later died at the hospital.

I get extremely discouraged around this time of the year, but luckily REI gave me a break. Not only are they closed for Thanksgiving, but they are closed for Black Friday, which is unheard of in the retail industry. Other stores are blaming the corporate greed on their customers:

In a press release, Macy’s passed the blame onto customers when explaining why it was forced to open its doors early. “In response to interest from customers who prefer to start their shopping early, most Macy’s stores will open at 8pm on Thanksgiving evening, consistent with many other retailers,” the store claimed. J.C. Penney likewise insisted it had no choice. “Last year, we opened much later than the competition and our stores saw a lot of frustrated customers tap our doors wanting to shop,” said company spokeswoman Daphne Avila. “This year, we decided we weren’t going to let those opportunities pass us by.”

Blah, blah, blah.

REI is becoming accountable and this year they have an #optoutside initiative to encourage people to spend time with nature, where they can also spend time with their friends and family.

Workers often have to work long shifts, it’s one of the most stressful, tiring shifts of the year for many store employees. Two years ago, a Target employee was so tired she fell asleep at the wheel and drove into a canal after working a midnight shift.

People either hate, love or at least accept this holiday because of the great deals. The thing is there are plenty of reason not to participate on this day. Environmental and moral reasons aside, research shows that the deals aren’t as good as the stores claim. According to this study, stores have been repeating the same deals since 2012.  Stores start deals weeks before Thanksgiving and carry them out through after Christmas. Also, similar deals are often offered online. People often overspend or impulse buy and they buy more without actually using those purchases.

Do You Really Need It?

So, weigh your pros and cons, but give it a second thought. Do you really need that new waffle maker or that second rate computer, just because it’s cheap? Does your daughter really need her 50th Barbie just because its on sale? You can spend your time with your family, trampled and left to die on the store floor or you can be a little more creative, #optoutside or spend the day scouring the internet for a better deal.

If you do decide to partake in this event, please be kind to the workers. Despite what CEOs think, there would be no store without them, therefore there would be no deals. They have put in long hours, gave up time with their families to serve your needs, so please show them respect.

No matter your choice, I wish you a blessed holiday.

A Day to Give Thanks

 

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