Even though some cities, states and even other countries have banned single-use plastic bags, we humans still use (and dispose of) a lot of them. Globally, we use about 1 trillion plastic bags each year, which comes out to 2 million a minute, according to Earthday.org’s fact sheet on disposable plastic.
What the heck do we do with a trillion plastic bags? For one company, the answer is to turn them into something beautiful while reviving a dying traditional handicraft.
Plenty of companies (including big ones, like H&M and Adidas) already turn plastic into fabric. Patagonia has been making fleece out of recycled plastic bottles since 1993. What’s different about Reform Studio’s Plastex comes down to production: They create the fabric by weaving strips from plastic bags on a traditional Egyptian handloom.
The Cairo-based studio has designed furniture that incorporates the fabric, and has started a Re collection that focuses on using Plastex as the primary material. Take a look at this midcentury-inspired stool, posted to their Instagram at @reform_studio:
The studio says Plastex is both durable and washable, Fast Company reports. (Not bad considering the average single-use plastic bag is used for approximately 12 minutes!) And you’ll want it to be durable, because you might be trekking across it every day. This cheerful rug from Reform has a tag that reads, “I used to be a plastic bag.”
Right now, the only place you can buy goods with Plastex is in Egypt. But the studio has collaborated with Ikea, Fast Company reports, so fingers crossed that we might find some of their repurposed woven goods at a nearby Ikea soon.
Meanwhile, other industries are trying to keep plastic out of landfills and waterways by not creating plastic waste in the first place. In fact, major hotel chains such as Marriott are eliminating those tiny shampoo, conditioner and body wash bottles that have been ubiquitous in hotels for decades.
Aramark, known for its food services and facilities, has pledged to phase out straws and single-use food containers by 2022. McDonald’s is working to have guest packaging come from renewable and recycled sources, and to recycle packaging at all of its restaurants by 2025. Kroger has decided to get rid of plastic bags at their grocery stores by 2025. Whole Foods has pledged to drop the use of plastic straws in U.S. stores by this July.
Reform Studio says they’ve kept more than 10,000 bags out of the landfill by creating this fabric. Way to reuse, reduce and recycle!