Trash bag to treasure
A Foxton woman reuses plastic bags, doomed for the dump, to make hammocks, chess boards and sandals. When Amba Wright found out plastic bags were non-recyclable, she collected thousands to give them a newlease of life. It started as an art project three years ago, when she asked members of the public for their unwanted bags and ended up with a swimming pool full of them. When the bags came flooding in, the ideas began streaming in, too. Wright has gone from making handbags to dog leads, dog harnesses, swimwear and a hammock that took 1300 bags. ‘‘I wanted to see howfar I could push it.’’ Preparing the bags took some time as the handles needed to be cut off and the bags were flattened before use, then cut into loops, Wright said. Shewas determined not to let any part of the bag go to waste so the handles are used for infusing - a process where the plastic is melted down to make harder more intricate objects.
Usually Wright crochets or weaves the plastic to make her creations, but infusing was helpful for items such as chess pieces, she said.
Wright made a black and white chess board with matching pieces that took about 20 hours and 50 bags to create. ‘‘It was definitely a labour of love.’’ Wright thought about selling her products but the time it took to make them was a huge cost, she said. ‘‘You just can’t put a dollar value on it.’’ Instead of selling the items she planned to start a workshop to teach people howto make their own plastic creations.
Wright has also made hats, book covers and swimming bags, and shewants to make laundry baskets next.
‘‘They arewaterproof and wouldn’t go mouldy.’’
She also planned to make hanging seats and plastic bags designed for wheelchairs.
Wright spoke to wheelchair users who said it was hard to find bags that were easily accessible on a wheelchair, so she wanted to make a product suited to them.
The Horowhenua District Council has permanent recycling stations at Tokomaru,
piki, Foxton, Shannon and Levin, but plastic shopping bags, such as those from supermarkets, are non-recylcable. There are also three summer recycling stations atWaita¯rere , Waikawa and Foxton