Fusible Plastic

Here is what I love and kind of hate about plastic bags. They’re really hard to manage: they take up a lot of room, float around without much encouragement and they’re just annoying, but that makes it fun to deconstruct them and turn them into something else. Fusible plastic, for example.

What you need:

At least 8 bags, but I recommend more in increments of 8- try to get some extra more colorful bags too


2 long pieces of parchment paper

Of your eight, the majority should be grocery bags or at least the same kind of bag. For my latest run, I used a kitchen bag in the middle because I wasn’t sure how it would compared to others and it still worked out pretty good. That set might have been my best.

Take each bag and fold it down neatly, so all the edges are tucked in. Cut off the seam on the bottom and the handles.

Cut down the side, so you can open it up and lay it flat. Do this with all eight of your bags.

Lay down one sheet of parchment paper and lay down your bags on top. For me, it’s impossible to make all the bags even, but just do the best you can. Make sure if your parchment paper is too short that you’re bags aren’t hanging off the side. Then add your second piece of paper. Also, be prepared for a little bit of a mess because sometimes the ink will melt.

I think the iron does best if it’s set on rayon or the 5 or 6 setting. I would rather you start on too low a setting and work your way up than start too high and ruin the plastic.

The plastic bags can easily get out of line, so the best way to start is melt one end and then work your way over. Once you finish one side, turn it over and work on the other side.

Keep the iron moving constantly. I mean constantly. The plastic tends to shrink and at first I thought I was doing it wrong, but as I kept ironing, I noticed that it was giving the solid feel I was going for. If you can feel the separate layers, you need to keep going.

Before you sew anything, decorate your bag with whatever cute plastic bags you have leftover. These will melt pretty quickly so don’t leave the iron on there for more than a few seconds at a time or you can sew your decorations on. Once I got a method down, I had better luck melting. Mostly I had to work with Wal-Mart bags, but since I hate Wal-Mart,  I did my best to cover up it’s name. For the second time, I just cut the Wal-Mart out and stacked the bags, so the hole wasn’t in the same spot for each bag.

There are tons of things you can do with this fusible plastic. I sewed up the sides, melted  some thing scraps to make handles and made a reusable bag. Because so much of my plastic didn’t turn out the first time, I didn’t have enough to make another one, so we made a pencil pouch.

Fold the bags in half and sew up the sides with right sides together. Then turn the bags inside out.

Fold the bags in half and sew up the sides with right sides together. Then turn the bags inside out.

005 003 004

The material is waterproof and extremely sturdy, so it would make a great beach bag. If you really wanted to. you could sewed it as a lining on a cute bag. These are just the simple things you can do, but there are plenty of awesome ideas that I want to do someday.

Raincoat: Yes, you read that right.



Crocheting Plastic Bags

Like I said, I’ve become addicted to crafting with plastic bags. There is just so much you can do with them and they’re such a nuisance, it just fits.

Let me start by saying, I’m a terrible crocheter. If I had been a mother when crocheting was popular, my kids would have probably been beat in the school yard and then left to freeze. Luckily, plastic bags weren’t around back then, so they’d at least have that going for them. And even luckier, I don’t have kids now to put through that experience. The good news is I am getting better. I tried to learn a few months when I wanted to make a rug out of crocheted bags, I still have that unfinished, but then I was inspired by the bag below, which my grandmother made me for my birthday.


It has a pocket and a place to hold your keys.

I’m sure you understand my motivation. It’s amazing. Here is the pattern, if you’d like to make your own. She tried to teach my aunt and I, but I wasn’t catching on very quickly, mostly because the stitches all seem the same and it’s like ‘Make two double stitches. OK, I can do that.’ Fifteen minutes later, “OK, I did two. What, I did all that and I only did one?” That and keeping the tension was difficult. Needless to say I didn’t retain anything I learned that day, so I decided to practice with something else.

I found this video:

Here is Part 2 and Part 3. Watch the video to make sure because what she calls single stitches seem to be something else.

Beautiful, right? This video allowed me to watch the same thing over and over without anyone’s patience being at risk, get the stitches down and practice, practice, practice.

It took me about 8 hours to do what she does in like 20 minutes, but I did finish and that’s what is important.


This flower isn’t great, but I will say it looks better than it does in the pictures. I took a million and it still looks like a hot mess, but it does actually have stuff resembling petals. It took me almost two bags to finish.

Now I’ve learned enough to be able to make some of the bubbles for the bag. Slowly, but surely I guess. And I’ve picked up some crocheting magazines for patterns to do later. There is so much inspiration out there. If you’re not a seasoned crocheter, I would suggest you start with yarn first, make the flowers then make the flowers with the bags, then find something slightly harder then work your way to the bag.

Anyway, have fun, don’t be too hard on yourself and be creative! Feel free to let me know what you’re working on!

Plastic Bags

For the first half of my latest semester, I got caught up in school; I was extremely busy and I had no time for anything but school work. I didn’t do any upcycling and for a while I didn’t have time to even notice my soul was being crushed but it was.

About midway through the semester, the environmental club I’m apart of asked me to do a project for a creativity fest. If you’re asking yourself what a creativity fest is, then I have terrible news for you because I went and I still have no idea. There was all kinds of people with huge displays I didn’t understand. It was on day when I had so much going on that all I could do was go, set up and tear down before I had to be to my next class. My partner wasn’t too much help either. Our club didn’t give us too much information for what was expected of us, it was supposed to be interactive, which  our display really was not, and it was supposed to be creative that’s all I knew. I have a pretty awesome plan for next year, but this year our table was embarrassingly sparse. But this event got me inspired to craft and I really haven’t been without a project since. If you ever ask me to do something like this, just know you’re going to get more than you bargained for. I’m so passionate about the idea of upcycling and educating people about waste, that I just throw myself into that project and go completely overboard. I felt terrible for my partner because I just kept throwing ideas and information at her and I’m sure she was like “……dude, just shut up already.”

Just a few weeks before I learned about the nuisance of plastic bags. And it got me inspired about plastic bags, which has been my main medium since. Below are a few quick facts and hopefully it will inspire you to use less or at least do these crafts with me.

American use 150 billion plastic bags; equals 150 million gallons of gas

·         They are difficult to recycle because they’re too lightweight and clog machines; only 1 percent ever get recycled

·         They can only be ‘down-cycled’ into something other than bags

·         Each year hundreds of thousands of seabirds and marine life die from indigestible plastics mistaken for food.

Source: Garbology by Edward Humes

·         Plastic can’t decompose without sunlight. Even with sunlight, plastic can’t ever fully decompose

·         A total of 500 billion bags are used world-wide every year. That’s enough to circle around the Earth 4,200 times.

·         http://oceancrusaders.org/plastic-crusades/plastic-statistics/

Isn’t that disgusting? So needless to say that was my inspiration for the creativity fest and it will be my inspiration for next year. I’ve learned out to melt them and crochet (somewhat, I’m really trying but I’m a terrible crocheter.) and braided the scraps to use for necklaces. The best part is they’re free and they’re everywhere. Start collecting them people and hopefully over the next week or two I’ll be able to show you how to use them.


How glass is recycled

I have been gone from this blog for a very, very long time, but I am back to show you this very awesome video. For a while now, I have been badly wanting to make a documentary of sorts about our recycling system. I thought of trying to work with my school-town’s waste management program, which seemed very helpful in the past when I made slideshow,  and follow their every move. From the time someone brought their trash to the curb to the recycling plants (Which depending on the type of recyclable, it could be taken by truck to places on the other side of the US. Yeah, the recycling system, I’ve learned, is very inefficient) and then I would follow the unrecycled trash to landfill. My dream is to someday make this journey a reality on film, but people are so touchy about their trash. Their ashamed and disgusted by it, so they hide. But the huge lengths we go to hide the trash also hides the problem and makes people so blind and unaware they need to do something to change their ways. All this, plus it’s even illegal to take pictures at a landfill, so I figured I should wait until I’m done with school with a clean plate and hopefully some more video experience before trying to tackle this project.

Now this little video is awesome to me because it shows part of the journey I wish document, but also because the market for recycled glass is microscopic. Most recycling programs don’t accept glass and if they do, it might still end up in the landfill, which sucks because glass NEVER EVER, not in a million years, decomposes. But I’m sure the market is small because it takes so much energy to melt down the glass, but this video gives me hope they can come up with an efficient system and it’s just plain cool.

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/67692057″>Secrets From The Recycling Plant: How A Used Bottle Becomes A New Bottle</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user3572793″>Planet Money</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

New Things

I may or may not make it through this semester, but there is a strategy to surviving some things and it’s basically taking it one thing at a time.

I have some awesome sounding classes this time around. One being Natural History; it’s a science class basically about identifying different organisms and environments of those organisms. The teacher is awesome and seems to have similar beliefs, which is always fun because a lot of people just think I’m crazy, which is fine, but a bit boring at times. His teaching assistant, who teaches the labs is a peach and quite frankly a bit weird, but that’s why I like her. We’re going to get to watch squirrels. It doesn’t get much more interesting than that. Although, the safety presentation she gave us did sound a bit like we might die, but dying while watching squirrels couldn’t be the worst death ever, right?

My other favorite class, Environment and Society, is off to a fascinating start and I’ll give you a loose version of why.

On the syllabus, my professor states that we shouldn’t wear perfumes, lotion, cologne or other strong smelling, chemically stuff because he’s super sensitive to the chemicals. This is interesting to me because my grandmother, mother and I, less than the first two but it’ll probably get worse, are highly sensitive to those chemical things. Then he starts talking about site called Oak Ridge that became to site to build hydrogen bombs for the Manhattan Project in 1942. It went from hydrogen bombs to nuclear bombs. The whole town’s economy runs off this place. Around the ’70s, the managers kind of realized the mercury, 2.4 million pounds to be exact, used from their hydrogen bomb making days is unaccounted for. Basically, they had thrown it into the nearest creek and eventually won itself a spot on the Superfund list. The plant and government covered it up and it wasn’t until five or so years later when an intern started digging around and exposed it. Unfortunately, like most environmental problems, the people were in denial and they didn’t panic and the class discussed why that may of been, but that’s a different thing.

People were getting sick, cancer, ALS, to name a couple of things that were happening. A doctor had moved there and started connect the dots to poisoning from working in the plant. He was bullied by the plant and town, but he continued to help the patients that came to him. Eventually, he left with over $300,000 in legal fees. Some time later, my professor started to work there as an intern. In the middle of internship, he came into work and saw that he office had been taped off as radioactive. When he talked to the boss, the boss told him everything was fine and not to worry. Needless to say, he never went back to the office. Eventually, he had to start seeing the doctor had started uncovering the connection between the factory and health problems. My professor suffers from a variety of health issues, including his allergy to chemical smells, which includes cleaners and air fresheners and other things that are impossible to get away from, and a thyroid problem.

It’s all very interesting because I’ve never encountered someone else with the sensitivity to chemical smells and how he got them was also very interesting.

I’m thinking those two classes will keep me alive through the semester. I hope.


It’s that time again. It’s hard to believe that I started this blog a year ago. It never got to the point that I wanted that point where I would call it a success. That’s a bummer, I won’t lie, but I learned a ton. I’m not sure the future of this blog, but I think it’ll be what I first meant it to be and that was a upcycling DIY blog, but we’ll have to see. For now I’d like to say thank you to all the people who have been following me through the good and the bad, the positive and negative. And to my mom who read even the crummiest of posts and who made everything I’ve done possible.

And so it’s time for my favorite time of the year, New Years. The time that makes me feel a bit hopeful because it makes me feel like if I really try, I can make the change I’ve always wanted to. Last year I wanted to be able to run a 5k. That soooo did not happen. It’s pathetic, but I’ve got a new plan. And I did make it through the apocalypse, so that’s something.

This year I will make the following resolutions:

  1. I will only have one Dr. Pepper. I need to explain this. I didn’t actually resolute to not drink soda, and it’s not like I drank it all the time, but maybe a couple a year or so, but I wanted to be healthier and stop supporting evil corporations and it just kind of happened. I may have had a few sips here and there, but it was so long ago and since I didn’t actually resolute, I don’t know for sure if I ever had one or not, but I’m pretty sure a full pop bottle was never in my hand. For the last few months, I’ve been craving my poison of choice like something terrible and it’s been EVERYWHERE. Every family occasion, every junk food machine (luckily, when my willpower just happened to slip, I never seemed to have any money), every party, everywhere I turn it’s been there just within my reach. I was so close and I had been so good for so long that I just couldn’t give up the willpower. So this week or maybe when school starts, whenever I get a chance that poison is mine, but then that’s it. For another year.
  2. I’m not giving up on my dreams of being able to run a 5k. I’ve tried several programs and one of two things happens. A, there are too many people at the gym and just can’t get up the courage to look like such a loser. Or B, I start to run and then I realize how much of a loser I am because I can’t even make it to the certain point before I start gasping for air, so I just quit before I give too many people a change to notice. I don’t have enough patience with myself and I need to get over it or I’ll never be able to run a stupid 5k.
  3. Ride my bike more. There are a few reasons why I don’t ride my bike everywhere. I won’t bore you with them, but I’m hoping to find some answers out there on this great World Wide Web.
  4. Write down every good thing that happens on a piece of paper and put it in a jar. I’ve seen this idea floating around. It’s kind of cheesy, but kind of cool. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to keep up because every time I get a monthly, weekly, daily calendar I can’t even keep up with flipping the thing, but that’s what new year’s is about…trying new things. Then at the end of the year, you take out all of the notes and read them all.
  5. I think…I’m going to keep a journal. I’ve never been able to keep up with it and I’ve never really wanted to, but I think way, way too much and instead of just keeping those thoughts locked up tight, I think it would be healthier to at least get them out somewhere. Plus, I think it will help me get out of deadening writer’s block rut.

I do hope you guys have a happy New Year and feel free to leave a comment about your resolutions.

Happy Holidays

Yesterday was Christmas. Yesterday it snowed. My family had a lovely day and last weekend we saw my mom’s side of the family, which was great. Since I’ve started this journey, I’ve gotten nothing but support from my family. I’ve learned so much over the past year about the environment and about appreciating my family. All of them, make me want to do better. Be more creative, to work harder to do things even though they’re less convenient and to just generally carry on even though I don’t think it makes much difference, which is the hardest thing for me to do.

This weekend was full of upcycling and crafting while keeping the environment in mind.

We made reindeer ornaments out of corks.


And bottle cap ornaments…out of bottle caps, which we had to cram seven people into a bottle cap size circle to go into the bottom bottle cap. We haven’t exactly finished that.

Everyone, even the guys, were totally on board with these crafts, which is interesting because when my aunt and I try to get them to do stuff at home it doesn’t work out quite as well. But there they were like Martin Stuarts!

I got a solder from my grandma and an awesome upcycling books book from my aunt.

My great aunt made me a lamp from a glass coke bottle that she found in the lake and popcorn bucket from the theater (I don’t think it was used).

028 And she made adorable bird feeders for my mom and aunt made from terracotta and old license plates.

My mom got me cruise control added to my car, which is a gift that keeps on giving and a ‘keep it green’ shirt  and more love than one could ever hope for.

I appreciate all the effort my family goes into caring about the things that I care about.