A free and easy way to make being homeless a little more comfortable and reduce plastic waste

Carrier bags are a big blemish on the planets eco system; causing health problems for wild life in the ocean, making a mess on land. In the UK, supermarkets hand out 7.9 billion carrier bags a year. So whenever we come across a resourceful project that finds a way to put all those throw away discarded carrier bags to practical use we’re pretty happy.

In California, Alabama, Kentucky, Chicago, Arkansa, and other states across the US, groups and individuals have started to crochet single-use plastic bags into sleeping matts for homeless people providing a little more comfort for those cold hard nights. Creators of these ingenius items have called the material Plarn. And Plarn makes for some good looking matts!

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These colourful matts are a more hygienic, sustainable alternative to cardboard. Aside from being free – they’re waterproof, easy to carry around, they dry out fast, keep heat in and the bugs don’t like them. One 6ft matt is made up of around five hundred to seven hundred bags. Here’s a handy how-to video for any groups or individuals who’d like to make one:

This idea hasn’t yet had much uptake in the UK, so any community-, friendship-, whoever-else groups, that are looking for a new rewarding project, look no further! People without homes who can croquet, croquet away and if you get the chance pass the skill onto someone else who might benefit.

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Whilst we would advocate homes, shelter and beds for homeless people, the rise of homelessness in the UK can’t be ignored. This is great practical tool for anyone who does find themselves sleeping on the streets.

Let us know if you, a group or shelter you’re involved with is interested in making matts for homeless people. If you already are, don’t forget to share the skill!

If you’re affected by homelessness in the UK St Mungo’s and Shelter are both useful places to contact.

(Cover image from Bristol Blanket Project)

Love Saves the Day, and the planet

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1IBUFFA

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1IBUFFA

Bristol’s Team Love have launched their green initiative to try and reduce the impact of Love Saves the Day on the environment.

This years event is moving from Castle Park to Eastville Park. Moving slightly out of the centre, the team have decided to try and reduce the traffic and offer a cheap alternative to driving to help festival goers arrive without too much disruption to the roads. There’s a shuttle-bus on offer (The Love Bus- £3 return ticket from the centre) and there will be organised bike rides to the event, keeping the carbon footprint to a minimum where possible.

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1L2zX1q

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1L2zX1q

We are also very pleased to hear they have a plastic cup saving plan! There is a non-refundable £1 charge for cups to encourage revellers to reuse their cups, not bin them. A great initiative to keep the plastic waste under control (nobody wants to spend their beer money on more cups!)

Last year the festival had generators run on biofuel and in the future hope to get even greener with compost toilets and and sustainable waste management.

Good work Team Love, doing the European Green Capital proud!

No (plastic) scrubs.

So we’ve been at it again, making scrubs and figuring out how to lead a plastic free lifestyle. Our latest delicious scrub consists of rock salt, brown sugar, lemon grass essential oil a little olive oil, orange rind and some coconut oil.

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We ground down the salt and sugar much finer than we did last time which meant the scrub was easier use and silkier for our skin. Other than the small circular window pictured this rock salt comes in cardboard packaging only.

Here’s Terri grinding away.

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We melted down the coconut oil on a low heat and mixed it in with the olive oil. Both ingredients came in glass bottles but we didn’t manage to find anything locally that had absolutely no plastic packaging – If anyone comes across some please let us know!

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So how did it turn out – well it smelt like a delicious lemon cake so if you prefer something a bit less sweet then I’d recommend reducing the amount of lemon grass essential oil you use. We also found that if the scrubs weren’t kept warm they became pretty stiff which we think might be down to the amount of coconut oil we used – so don’t over do it and try and keep your scrub warm.

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Photo credit: Linda Evans

The loosest screw…

I went to buy screws in Wilkos the other day and found they sell the loose in a ‘Pick ‘n Mix section.

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You’re supposed to fill either a large plastic bag for £2.99 or a small plastic bag for £1.99 with any of the nails in the bins. But if you take your own container (I used my pocket)  – you can avoid the plastic!

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It’s not quite as simple as it sounds – you need to take one of the bags with you to the counter because that’s where the barcode is but if you explain to the person at the til that you want the bag to stay in the shop (maybe even take it back yourself) the hey presto – plastic free DIY!

Saving plastic bags from the bin

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It’s always interesting to see the ways in which people manage to be inventive when recycling plastic. Reform Studio have created Plastex, a material made from reused plastic bags. The focus is on raising awareness ‘about how we define waste and the possibilities behind reusing what was once destined to become trash.’ The products (for the home) aim to prolong the lifespan of the plastic bag, reusing it in another way rather than sending them to landfill. With the average usage period of a plastic bag averaging around twelve minutes and the amount of time they take to decompose averaging at years, it’s important for us to address the issue of our throwaway lifestyle and find solutions.

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Plastex was designed by a team in Egypt, where plastic waste is a serious issue. Plastex is made by using a traditional Egyptian hand loom to weave the strands of plastic bags. Reform studio is not only aiming to prolong the life of the plastic bag but they also want to help to revive the weaving industry in Egypt to create work opportunities and help local communities. An all round winner!

The collections that they have created are vibrant in colour, stylish and practical. ‘The Grammy’s collection brings an old authentic design back to life; a chair that dates back to the 1960s’. The chairs are handwoven and are one of a kind due to the fabric depending on the plastic bags used each time. The fabric is durable, washable and dirt-resistant and has seen the ladies at Reform Studio become a laureate at the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards. Good work!

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You can take a look at Reform Studio here.

We will be looking for more creative ways in which discarded plastic can be reused, so feel free to make suggestions!

 

All pictures taken from http://reformstudio.net/products/

Supermarkets: Making a Green Life Simpler?

Down & Out in Bristol with Plastic is all about how we as individuals can find ways of using less plastics in day to day life. One of the ways we’ve advocated is to shop at the grocers, places with food bins, and places where refillable alternatives to the usual single use option are offered. But, of course, sometimes the convenience of supermarkets fits in with a busy lifestyles. As it stands, most people shop in the supermarkets. Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Co-operative, Lidl, Aldi all provide us with access to groceries in the same place, at times of day other shops may not be available. As much as we are responsible for the choices we make, those who present us the choices have some responsibility for the consequences of those choices. With this in mind, we thought we’d take a look at what the supermarkets are doing to make sure the plastic they sell has a minimal impact on us and the environment and what we can do to encourage and support them.

                Aldi supermarket

Plastic has many positive uses in medicine and technology which, when produced and disposed of properly, outweigh the negatives that come with choosing this material. It seems to be packaging that’s the main problem for both the environment and our heath; chemicals leaching into food and rubbish clogging up the fish and landscapes. So it makes sense for plastic packaging (including plastic bags) to be at the centre of what we aim to reduce in terms of plastic.  The UK introduced packaging regulations in 2003 which guided retailers in their packaging methods, stating clearly that packaging methods.

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G-Star RAW for the oceans: Is Pharrell making recycled plastic clothing trendy?

‘We have created Denim’s next generation.’ – Pharrell Williams

On August 15th 2014 G-Star launched their brand new recycled plastic clothing line: G-Star RAW for the oceans. With Pharrell Williams as curator and co-designer the project is likely to gain a large following and plenty of coverage, bringing the issue of plastic waste in our oceans into the limelight at last. It’s all well and good having celebrity endorsement, but does this project actually have real potential?

The team at G-star have developed a new Bionic Yarn, a world first created for their denim products. As the website states, in a step by step process guide, the plastic is collected from the ocean and is then broken down into small fibres which can then be spun. They are spun into a strong core yarn and then helixed with cotton, this creates Bionic Yarn. The yarn is then weaved or knitted into the fabrics ready to make RAW for the oceans clothing. Bionic yarns are up to 400% stronger than conventional yarns, meaning clothes are long-lasting.

‘I see fashion in the future as a place to wear the responsibility’ – Founder of Bionic Yarn Tyson Toussant 

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RAW for the oceans was taken to New York Fashion Week where they showcased their creations along with conferences discussing the issue of our oceans plastic problems along with their new Bionic Yarn. The collection has been well received, particularly when Pharrell himself has been wearing the clothing as he is something of a fashion icon. It seems that together they have achieved the difficult task of stirring interest and gaining support for the cause, whilst also creating a contemporary and relevant product to capture the attention of younger generations too.

G-Star, Pharrell – We salute you! Keep doing what you’re doing!