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)

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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/

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!

Update: Shrilk is not quite the answer we were looking for…

I recently posted an article about Shrilk and how this may become a valuable resource for us to replace plastic in the future as a natural and biodegradable option. One of the main components of Shrilk is the shell of shrimp, a polymer. Without looking into the shrimp farming industry far enough I declared that this was possibly the answer to our oceans plastic problems. After further research I have learned that the shrimp farming industry is having a very negative impact on our planet, and unfortunately you can’t fix one problem while condoning another! So here are the facts…

aquaculture-shrimp-impactsXL_293987Source: http://www.worldwildlife.org/industries/farmed-shrimp (Shrimp farm destroying mangroves)

According to WWF Shrimp is the most valuable traded marine product. Production is growing by 10% every year, making shrimp a food incredibly high in demand! Farming shrimp makes it more accessible for shrimp loving areas such as the USA and Europe, as a result 55% of shrimp is now farmed. However, this is at a cost to the environment. Shrimp farming produces organic waste and chemicals which can pollute the coastal estuaries they are built in and can also damage land around them. This is important agricultural land which is often essential to the surrounding communities. They can change vibrant, sensitive wetland ecosystems, such as mangroves, ruining other wildlife. Entire coastal zones can be destabilized. Farmers take shrimp from the ocean to stock their shrimp farms, often depleting local populations of fish who rely on them as a food source. This is a circle of destruction on delicate ecosystems which needs addressing.

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Express yourself: Friends of the Earth in Bristol

So last night we spent the evening at Friends of the Earth’s Express Yourself Event – hosted by the lovely Melanie Rideout. From 7.30pm Bristol Folk House filled with people wanting to hear good music, listen to ideas and solutions whilst eating free cake. Hidden away down an alley off Park Street, the venue’s flower covered decking shone in the candlelight. The turnout was marvellous -in the event room there were more people than seats! It was great to meet people from all avenues, some directly involved in activism others just curious about the environment and have the opportunity to explain some of the things me and Terri have been up to… Continue reading

Plastic nibbles?!

Not so long ago we posted about the negative impact using microplastics in the personal care industry has on us and the environment, but particularly on the planet’s oceans. Whilst microbeads in toothpaste and scrubs is largely to blame for microplastics presence in the habitats of fish, that presence can also be attributed to the way bottles and other plastic break down in the conditions of sun and sea. This short 2 minute video by MinuteEarth explains it all very nicely so take a look! Back to beauty – the Cosmetics Compliance Summit in October is the perfect opportunity to raise the issues surrounding microbeads and plastic in Cosmetics, so don’t forget to send a letter to your MP asking for their use to banned like many states in the U.S. have done!