Green Dude DIY: recycling plastic for good

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idea bucket reuse idea on the green divasI know, I know: plastic is something we want to try to get out of our lives… right? No doubt… but good luck with that: more and more packaging and products are made with this cheap, durable material. And while more recycling depots do accept a wider variety of plastics, many still don’t… and that means your options for responsible disposal of the plastics you collect seem very limited.

But just like other wastes, the plastics that come into our lives hold potential for continued use through reuse and upcycling. The durability of plastic containers and bags — the thing that makes them such a challenge in landfills — also makes them a near-ideal material for many DIY projects you may want to try out. Their pliability also makes them relatively easy to work with: no special tools or skills required!

Hear my recent segment where I talk about this with Green Diva Meg here, then read on for more details.

So, if you’ve got a collection of 5-gallon buckets, or even plastic barrels – which you might if you buy
products in bulk – you’ve got great materials for planters or rain collectors. If you want to get really adventurous, though, you might try one of these DIY washing machines. A bucket gives you enough space to wash an outfit; a barrel should have the capacity for the normal load you’d use in an electric washer. In addition to saving power with these simple washers, you’ll get some exercise: they all require some form of human power for agitation.


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plastic bag on the green divasIt’s more likely, though, that you’ve got a collection of plastic shopping bags: even with our best intentions, we all end up with a few of these. We mean to take them back to the store for the recyclingbin there, but… Despite their flimsiness as shopping bags, these products can be “spun” into “plarn,” or plastic yarn that you can weave into a sort of fabric. And while that fabric may not be the stuff you want to wear or decorate with, plarn does make a great mat for people who sleep outdoors. A movement of sorts has formed to make such mats for the homeless. It’s not a solution to their plight, but it does create a bit more comfort while keeping those plastic bags out of landfills.

Got your own reuse or upcycling project
for that plastic we all collect? Do share…


Listen to the latest full episode of the Green Divas Radio Show …

Photo credit: Shutterstock

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About the author / 

Green Dude Jeff

Jeff McIntire-Strasburg is the founder and editor of sustainablog. A former English professor, Jeff's an "old timer" in the green blogosphere, and has written for Treehugger and the Sundance Channel, among others. You can keep up with his work at Facebook, Twitter, and Google+

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