Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Did you know that each year Americans throw away some 100 billion polyethelyne plastic bags? Only 0.6 percent are recycled. (Source: Worldwatch Institute) Sad, isn’t it?

Well, today I want to tell you about a story I heard on our local NBC news affiliate, KPRC Channel 2, last Friday evening. It was about a Rice University professor named Diana Welch. Prof. Welch had collected plastic shopping, grocery and newspaper bags for years, determined that she would find a good way to recycle them. It was the purchase of one of those little looms that make potholders from woven loops that showed her the way. I guess it was one of those “light bulb” moments we all hear about. After making the usual woven potholders, Diana decided to try making things with the plastic bags.

First she made potholders and trivets and placemats and even small tote bags from her collected plastic. Then she created (and has a patent pending for) a larger lap loom that she used to weave the plastic bags into 14” x 17” panels. She knew there should be a market out there for someone to make these panels into better purses and so she searched country wide. She also started hiring local women to weave her panels, thereby helping the local economy.

Prof. Welch finally found a local upscale purse designer, Elaine Turner, who said that the panels fit right into her design style. Now she has added the “Molly” bag to her line of handbags. Elaine added hemp handles and a natural organic lining to the plastic woven panels to make the "Molly" totes. I have to say that these purses are just beautiful. Expensive for my budget, but beautiful. The colors are different depending on which bags are used. They are fashionable, sturdy, easy to clean and, of course, very green. See them here:

This story just proves that, if you keep looking and never give up, you can find a way to help our environment and our economy at the same time.

http://www.reuseeverything.com/ (Professor’s page)
http://www.click2houston.com/video/19346882/index.html (video of news story)


  1. I would imagine that by the time you pay the weavers the costs would be higher. I know I have a collection of the bags I keep forgetting to take to the recycle bin at WalMarts. I guess I will have to make myself a large note so that I remember to take them. I also forget to take my market totes with me (imagine that, I make the things and forget to take them).

  2. Years ago....I used these bags to crochet strips into oval rugs for outside the front door. Geez! should have continued with my idea! Lost another opportunity! Darn!

  3. I know a woman I see at alot of craft shows that crochets purses and hats useing plastic bags. Too bad she can not get that kind of price for them. Wow over $100.