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

Iron

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.

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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.

Wallets

Shoes!

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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.

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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.

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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>

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.

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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.

Waste-free holiday

I hate to be so bahumbug about one of my and most people’s favorite holiday, but it’s a fact. Christmas is the most wasteful holiday.

According to recycleworks.org, from thanksgiving to new years’, our household waste increases by more than 25 percent. With everything from added food waste, to wrapping, packaging, it adds up to over 1 million tons a week going into a landfill.

Half the paper used in America is used to wrap products. And the 2.65 billion Christmas cards sold in America (so this doesn’t include the cards not sold that are thrown away) could fill a football field for up to 10 stories.

If everyone reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, it would add up to enough to tie a bow around the planet. How’s that for a Christmas present to us and the Earth?

Food waste is also one of the biggest waste contributors. Food waste makes up to a quarter of the garbage thrown away during Thanksgiving and New Year’s. A household of four could save an average $100-$125 by reducing food waste.

The good news is that both of these problems have solutions.

To address our overconsumption of paper:

  1. Save wrapping paper this year to use for next year. It takes a bit of effort and patience from everyone involved because everyone has to wait while you carefully unwrap your presents.
  2. Use recycled paper products. Recycled cards, wrapping paper, bags, etc. And you could always send an e-card, instead of paper. If everyone sent one less card we could save 50,000 cubic yards of paper.
  3. Use alternatives to the conventional wrapping paper. Newspapers, reusable bags (which is a gift in itself and it keeps on giving), use bags or used boxes, paper bags from the store, fabric, (fabric is harder to rip to shred, which makes it easier to reuse) jars or cans (mixes are adorable in jars), I will also tell you, unashamedly, that part of my parents gifts were wrapped in Pringle’s cans. Let your creativity run wild and feel no shame.
  4. Upcycle your paper. Most of these things are super easy. Gifts bags made from newspaper or wrapping paper, bows made from any kind of paper, paper confetti (we used brown packing paper and some used wrapping paper that wasn’t in such good shape and shredded with a paper shredder).
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    Bows made from wrapping paper.

    Paper shred/confetti

    Packing confetti made from shipping paper and old wrapping paper

And for our waste of food? Mostly it has to do with planning ahead. Planning portion sizes, what people tend to eat more or less of, how you plan to store it, etc.

  1. This site, love food, hate waste, is site teaching about food waste and how to cut down. The statistics are based from the UK, but the principles can be applied anywhere. It helps with planning portion, storing and recipes so you can use the same ingredients in a different recipe.
  2. You can also donate it. I feel a little iffy about this sometimes, but if you can find a homeless shelter who will take unpackaged food then why not?
  3. Have a potluck. Everyone bring a dish and take home the leftovers.
  4. Embrace the leftovers. I’m not a big fan of leftovers, but some things like pie can never be eaten too many times. I try to just think of everything as leftover pie.
  5. Compost your plain, raw fruits and veggies.

The main thing is to be aware of the waste and take it into a count when planning your holiday festivities. Feel free to leave a comment on how you plan to cut down waste during the holiday season.

Seasoning Mixes DIY

As most people know, health is a gift that just keeps on giving. Giving homemade seasoning mixes, without all the chemicals usually in traditional mixes, is one easy peesy way to do just that.

You can find different versions, but I found these four from the Mountain Rose blog. They also sell the spices and things for all of these mixes.

Taco Mix:

1/4 cup Chili Powder
1/4 cup Cumin Powder
1 tablespoon Garlic powder
1 tablespoon Onion powder
1 teaspoon Oregano leaf (or oregano leaf powder)
1 teaspoon Paprika with 1/4 cup Himalayan salt or sea salt (optional)
1 teaspoon ground Black Pepper

To make: Put all in jar and shake well or mix in a food processor until mixed. Store in an airtight jar for up to six months. Makes approximately 1 cup. To use: sprinkle on ground beef or chicken as you would any store bought taco seasoning. 3 tablespoons is the same as 1 packet of store bought taco seasoning.

Ranch Mix:

1/4 cup dried Parsley leaf
1 Tablespoon Dill leaf
1 tablespoon Garlic Powder
1 tablespoon Onion Powder
1/2 teaspoon Basil leaf (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

To Make: Mix all ingredients together in jar or food processor. To make into Ranch Dressing, mix 1 Tablespoon of this mix with 1/3 cup Homemade Mayonaise or Greek Yogurt and 1/4 cup Coconut Milk.

Chili Mix:

1/2 cup Chili powder
1/4 cup Garlic powder
3 tablespoons Onion powder
1/4 cup Oregano leaf
2 tablespoons Paprika powder
1/4 cup Cumin powder
1 tablespoon Thyme leaf

To Make: mix all ingredients and store in an airtight container. 1/4 cup of mix = 1 package of store bought chili seasoning.

Pumpkin Mix:

1/4 cup Cinnamon powder
1 teaspoon ground Ginger
2 teaspoons Nutmeg powder
2 teaspoons Allspice powder
1/2 teaspoon Clove powder (optional)

To Make: Mix all ingredients and store in airtight container. Use as you would regular pumpkin pie spice. Great in pumpkin cheesecake,  pumpkin pie, spiced pumpkin lattes or coconut flour pumpkin muffins.

To add a little flare, fold a piece of card stock paper or possibly some old Christmas cards in half and staple it on a Ziploc bag. Just make sure you staple above the zip and not below.

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