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Bags of future for single-use plastic

Council zero Waste coordinator Jo Dean, Te Awhina Cameron Community House Donna Gray, volunteer Michelle Trueman and Masterton District Council environmental and sustainability lead Agnes Piatek-Bednarek, with a plastic mat made out of plastic supermarket bags. PHOTO/PAM GRAHAM


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Who knew you could make mats from ‘plarn’ – yarn made from plastic – in this case, the single-use plastic supermarket bags collected in the swap for jute bags run by Masterton District Council [MDC].

Michelle Trueman crocheting with yarn made out of single-use plastic bags. PHOTO/PAM GRAHAM

There wasn’t a final count made of the plastic bags collected at the event last month when people could swap five plastic supermarket bags for a jute bag but they gave away 1200 jute bags on the day so organisers reckon they got more than 6000 plastic bags.

Anyone is welcome to come along to Te Awhina Cameron Community House and see them being crocheted into mats and they’re welcome to try it themselves.

The bags have been kept in boxes and when volunteers or staff have time they role them into balls, and cut them into strips, and join them together to make the ‘plarn’. This is then rolled into balls and used as you would any yarn.

Michelle Trueman is one of the volunteers at Te Awhina Cameron Community House having a go at crocheting them into a mat.

She said she learned to crochet from her mother but hadn’t done it in years. She uses a simple Afghan crochet stitch to make the mat and there were also plenty of ideas on the internet about what could be done with plarn.

A report to the MDC’s community wellbeing committee last week stated the mats were for sleeping on, and were hygienic, waterproof, easily transportable, and also provided protection from cold floors.

The initiative of transforming the plastic waste into sleeping mats is very successful in Australia, where several charities have agreed to make the plastic mats and redistribute them to homeless people.

The Te Awhina Cameron Community House Volunteer Group have contributed a significant amount of time an effort towards this project, council says.

Community house co-ordinator Donna Gray said it was typical of the recycling projects at the community house.

As she spoke people from the community dropped in to talk about issues they had, and a man “just stopped in to mow our lawns”.

She said there had been a huge change in the area in the four years she had been involved with the community house.

“People are working well together”, she said.

The project to make mats from plastic bags was an example of this and people visiting the house had been intrigued by the transformation of the bags.





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