Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Plastic bag dress

Earth day.  (Okay so I'm a little behind on this blog.)  Each year HOPE Society is plagued with the concept of what to do to celebrate Earth Day.  Last year we took pictures of environmentally friendly products sold in stores all over town.  The year before we had an upcycling contest to try to encourage people to come up with creative ways to reuse things. This year, I wanted to make a statement.

Not sure how much of a statement we actually made.  My original thought was to make a big pyramid of the amount of disposable cups Houston goes through every year.  But of course that would mean using a lot of disposable cups. 

So I tried to come up with something that could be made of waste that's already been used.  Plastic bags seemed to be a good option.  They are typically still clean after use and it's easy to collect a lot of them in a short period of time.  Plus they are a big environmental issue.  

At first I wanted to make a big flag out of the bags.  There was an issue of where one could fly such a flag. And if it tore, there would be litter issues. So Cindy and I came up with the idea of making a plastic bag dress! I was very excited about it.  We asked her daughter to be the model and  immediately made a duct tape mannequin.  (http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/1200x/3a/88/c3/3a88c34f7568f5dfcc0e335ac389bb2e.jpg)

I worked on the dress at every opportunity over the next few days as I was running out of time to make a display for Earth Day.  But I got it done and was fairly happy with the results.  

Unfortunately, Cindy was having trouble coming up with good information on plastic bag waste to put up as part of the display with the dress.  Not that she couldn't find info.  It's just that the more she dug, the more she found that there wasn't much persuasive evidence against them.  Apparently, it take approximately 132 uses of a reusable bag to compensate for the extra pollution and energy use to make them compared to a disposable bag. You would need a pretty durable bag to get through that many shopping trips.  If you use them once a week, that's over two and a half years.  And even biodegradable paper bags are more environmentally damaging because they take so much more to produce them than disposable plastic. 

We opted to set up a previously used display consisting of the reduce, reuse, recycle concept (with emphasis on the reduce and reuse part) in an effort to reduce more waste by reusing a display rather than making a whole new one.  It wasn't really my initial vision, but it did attract attention. Kids especially thought it was cool because the dress was made for their schoolmate.  

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