Recycled Plastic Bag Yarn, Turned Doormat

No matter how a cute a doormat is when I get it, the years of dirt, salt, snow, rain, and who knows what else always tend to wear them about the same – a greyish-blackish blob meant only to be scuffled by boots. That’s why I’m turning the ever-piling-up bounty of grocery plastic bags in my house into doormats.

Obviously, the ideal would be to use the 4 or 5 reusable grocery bags I have lying around the house, but a couple times a month I forget those, and a few other times I get more groceries than they can hold. Over time, that’s become a very packed pile of grocery bags, and because I knew you could make yarn out of them, I chose to try that for my latest crochet project. I have some detail work left to do on two projects for my in-laws, but this is a nice break because it’s mindless for the most part.

  1. I start by flattening out the bag and cutting the bottom and the handles off, so I have a uniform rectangle shape, but it’s actually a circle of plastic.
  2. With it flattened, I cut “strips” that are actually rings of plastic. I try to keep them between 1/2 an inch and an inch, but the final yarn is variable and it all kind of stretches, so don’t stress about width. Just make sure it isn’t less than 1/2 an inch because it’s liable to break.
  3. I loop the rings of plastic through each other and pull tight, to create a “chain” and then add more and more rings to it. Each plastic bag can add 12, 20, even 24 feet of yarn if you make it uniform and thin.
  4. Then I roll it up into a ball and use it just like regular yarn. The more you can make ahead of time, the faster the projects themselves go.

It’s not ideal for us to turn plastic bags into doormats instead of just reducing our use of grocery bags, but it makes me happy to see something useful come out of all this – I save the handles and the bottoms of the bags to stuff in the middle of two layers of doormat to make an extra-thick mat that also uses every single part of the buffalo, I mean every part of the bag. I’ll post a picture when I get one completely done!

Recipes for Productivity

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This is the first non-food picture I’ve really used in this blog (gardening being, very tangentially and in a weird time line, a food concept). As I finish the last few recipes from my friends and family and start working on recipes given me by many other bloggers, I’ve been thinking a lot about summer break; not just the fact that it’s a break, but that it’s a break in order to be able to make some things happen.

I listen to a lot of podcasts on my commute, and one of them recently discussed what we mean when we say productivity; it isn’t enough that we feel stressed, or that we are never sitting still. If anything, those structures seem to sometimes reduce the projects we actually finish.

I’m realizing that I want to be pouring more resources into my community, family, and friends. That sounds vague, I know, but what I want is to be spending my time on things that add value; taking ingredients and turning them into a meal, or sweeping the house so it’s already clean when Husband gets home so that he doesn’t have to do it, or writing a novel (!!!) so that future nerdy 12-year-olds can feel some of the wonder that novels gave me when I was their age… those are the things that seem valuable to me. If I was in a really bad place right now, productivity might be measured in money earned, but I’m doing okay right now, and it seems more important, both now and in worse conditions, to have good family and friends who are happy and healthy around me, than just to have another dollar.

So, as alluded, I will keep cooking, take on more home duties (Husband’s job has no summer break, so this seems like it will make our time together more fun), and work on my novel. I have also been crocheting a lot, including the above baby blanket, in order to raise money for Relay for Life, which is next weekend! I am really excited to meet all the other people who have been part of the effort around town and have a big cancer-fighting party with them.

All this to ask: what activities do you love that contribute to the resources and value in your community, family, and friends? These are simpler than we think, but still so important. What activities matter to you that don’t get their fair value in money/in the marketplace? How do you fight for the time and energy to spend on these pursuits?