Saturday, March 10, 2012

Why Plarn?

As you will notice as I post more designs on my blog that much of what I construct is made of plarn (plastic bag yard). Many people would ask why I would waste my time making something out of plastic bags when I could easily just make it with the traditional medium, regular old yarn? Plarn bags, purses, and totes sounds like a cheapskate way of trying to spend money on crafting materials, but it is hardly that. I make plarn for many of reasons. Yes, one of those reasons was money or my lack thereof, but mainly because I had become scandalized by the primary purpose of a plastic bag.
Grocery plastic bags were made for solely temporary purposes. Its function basically is to carry your purchases from the grocery store to your car and to carry your groceries from your car to your house. It only had to remain durable enough to survive this small trip. If it tears, no biggie, just throw it away. If your plastic bag drawer was full, that was okay it didn't a cost a thing; into the trash it goes. Really the lifespan of plastic bag in your life consists of the minutes; you drag it to your car and then to your home. That's it. The lack of durablity, the temporariness, and the inherent waste that plastic bags tend to produce (especially in our landfills and our cabinet space) doesn't seem worth the couple of minutes we spend with something that has become regrettably a staple in the American way of life. It really isn't efficient nor is it really that convenient when all things are said and done. The website about plastic from Environmental Protection Agency says:
    • 31 million tons of plastic waste were generated in 2010, representing 12.4 percent of total MSW.
    • In 2010, the United States generated almost 14 million tons of plastics as containers and packaging, almost 11 million tons as durable goods, such as appliances, and almost 7 million tons as nondurable goods, for example plates and cups.
    • Only 8 percent of the total plastic waste generated in 2010 was recovered for recycling.
    • In 2010, the category of plastics which includes bags, sacks, and wraps was recycled at almost 12 percent.
    • Plastic bags are among the nondurable aspect which generates about 7 million tons.*
Five minutes of use doesn't really justify that amount of waste and the damaging effects it has on the environment. It got me thinking how a plastic bag's life was really in vain. It exists merely for the appearance of efficency, comfort, and convenience. I wished there was a way to redeem the use of the plastic bags from being something that was temporary to something that was more permanent but not in the global warming, end-of-world kind of permanent.
Then, I remembered vaguely that a friend mentioned to me that people were making yarn out of plastic bags. I thought initially that would make some ugly yarn, but it wasn't until I did some online research that plarn was not that bad with a little ingenuity. It is durable and extends the plastic bag's lifespan to something bordering on longterm. I decided to give it a whirl, and I was hooked (no pun intended).

I made a grocery bag for myself and used it constantly. People started to stop me in the street to ask me about my grocery bag. I told them how I made it. The intial response was "You should sell this!" At first I was incredulous. Why would anyone spend $30 on a bunch of plastic bags transformed into an elaborate plastic knot? It is a combination of three reasons:
  1. It is an investment in the future: These plastic bags don't end up in a landfill that would take thousands of years to decompose, but ends up being a useful part of a person's life. Yes, it is still serving the purpose of transporting your groceries or whatever purchases, but it can repeat its purpose over and over again. A singel plastic bag cannot accomplish this goal. A single plastic bag can only take so much abuse before the handle snaps.
  2. It is a fist bump to Mother Earth: This seems self-explanatory. The less plastic bags you obtain from the grocery store by using a reuseable bag means less production of flimsy plastic bags. Now plastic companies are still going to produce them, but being a able to convert your's or your neighbor's plastic bags into something more permanent will definitely reduce the amount of bags if you bring a reusable plarn bag to the store.
  3. It was a way redeem the infamous plastic grocery bag from its original purpose: This may take some time to elaborate and perhaps I am going to an extreme here. When you make plarn and use it in your crafting, you are turning something that is intriniscally temporary (a flimsy plastic bag) into something totally permanent (a durable and quite attractive reusable bag). You are giving that plastic bag another life, which is more useful than what it originally was made for. It is sort of inspiring and empowering.
With all the stress that society puts on us to be eco-friendly this one seems not so stressful for me. It makes me feel like I am making a difference (albeit a small difference). Regardless, I have fun doing it. Now if you are not a crafter or you don't know how to knit or crochet but know someone who does tell them about plarn. If you know someone who makes plarn, supply them with the pages that might be stuffed in your cabinents somewhere. You might be giving your friend a new and affordable way to craft. I am thankful for my friends who brought it to my attention. I love to crochet and plarn just so happens to not put an elaborate dent in my pocketbook.

Plarn is initially not a beautiful thing, but with a little skill and a little flair it redeems the woesome temporariness of plastic bags and turns them into a beautifully longterm useful thing.


  1. these are so cute do u have patterns for these two bags and the rose as well?

  2. The one that looks like a market bag is a modified version of the Summer Provence String Bag by Kathy Noth. Here is the link to it:
    As to the one that looks like a purse, I have not written down how to make this one unfortunately. I plan on developing it soon though.

    The Rose was just me fooling around as well. I am will try to reproduce it as some point, but I am not sure as to when because I have some other irons in the fire. You could try finding a rose pattern on

    1. Love love love this purse. I hope you get pattern. The items are so vintage. Thats what I like. Thanks. Louise

  3. Love the resourcefulness of the plarn concept! Will be researching how to create it and more plarn patterns.

  4. This plarn patterns are awesome but if I could ask.What is a purpose or function of crotchet plastic bags.

    Please reply