The plastic shopping bag is a product hard to avoid. I researched the lifecycle of these bags and decided it could be much longer.
The mass-produced plastic shopping bag is a disposable product, meant to be used only a few times before it tears and becomes useless. Of course plastic can be recycled, which is good in principle because you’re not exhausting natural resources, but the process of recycling isn’t very environmentally friendly. It takes lots of energy, heat, chemicals, harmful emission and the recycled material is always of a poorer quality than the original. Best would be to extend the use of a product for as long as possible before recycling, but these bags were made for short-term use and must be discarded quickly.
My goal was to alter plastic shopping bags in a way that would make the material last longer, while remaining recyclable. This lead to ‘Precious Waste’, a textile made entirely out of used plastic shopping bags that were spun into yarns and then woven. The plastic shopping bag can be transformed by pure hand work into a beautiful and strong material, suitable for a wide range of purposes. When this textile is eventually worn out it can still be recycled in the conventional way, because it’s not a mixed material, and can become a new product once again.