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We all know cloth grocery bags are standard issue for green-minded, do-gooding people. And I’m proud to report that I keep a big pile of them in my fuel-efficient car, enough to tote groceries for my entire four-person, two-dog, one-cat household.

But the truth is, sometimes, I forget. Sometimes I get to the checkout and realize it’s going to be a paper-or-plastic kind of day. If you looked in the cabinet under my kitchen sink you would see the shameful result: a crinkly clump of flimsy Kroger bags, eager to spill out across the kitchen floor.

Admit it, you’ve been hiding a secret stash of plastic bags, too. It’s okay. We’re here to help you reduce, reuse and recycle to the max. Once you’ve used all the bags you need to pick up dog poop and wrap up stinky diapers (who needs one of those expensive Diaper Genies when a firmly knotted Target bag works just as well?), collect the thousand or so bags left over, because it’s craft time!

Let’s take all those old bags and make … wait for it … new bags! Stick with us, it will make sense in a minute.

Plarn is a big deal these days. Have you heard of it? Slicing plastic bags into strips, knotting those strips into “plarn” (plastic yarn) and knitting or crocheting them into new bags (or mats, baskets, hats, etc.) is actually a thing. Check out Pinterest if you don’t believe me. Lots of libraries and community centers offer how-to classes, and some homeless shelters keep their volunteers busy crocheting portable sleeping mats. My friend Darby drags her teenaged son to classes where they work together to make these mats. If a sullen 15-year-old can do this, you can, too! Don’t know how to knit or crochet? That’s alright, it’s easy enough to learn. You need  a new hobby anyway.

Go here for an easy tutorial for turning plastic bags into balls of plarn.

After that, grab crochet hooks or knitting needles and get busy. Here are some simple, cute patterns to get you started.

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